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Puppy Rearing Log: The Setup

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Whelping Pen Setup
(click photo for larger image)
Plan A
whelping crate plan A
Plan B
whelping crate plan B
Plan C
whelping crate plan C

Plan A: I made a whelping pen frame from 1/2-inch plywood, 4 x 5 feet in size with sides 2 feet high. A tarp was under the frame. Rubber antifatigue mats (ribbed side down) lined the pen.

I used a size 500 airline crate bottom for Atalanta and the pups. Bedding was a folded comforter in a slipcase wrapped with a blanket. An incontinence pad was under the blanket to protect the slipcase from the dam's discharges.

A board across the door kept puppies from crawling out, but allowed Atalanta to enter and leave the crate at will.

A blanket across the whelping pen frame, over the back 2/3 of the crate, created a den-like atmosphere and held heat in the crate. It was easy to fold back to handle the pups and change the bedding in the crate.

Plan B: By day 9, I realized that Atalanta needed a break from dealing with eight puppies at once so I divided the litter into two groups. The larger pups went in one group and the smaller pups in the other group. I set up a size 300 airline crate with a heating pad to hold the shift that was "on break." During the day, I rotated shifts about every two hours. For the two nights I used this setup, I put a different shift with Atalanta each night.

Plan C: After two days and nights of changing shifts, it was clear that the pups that spent the night with Atalanta gained weight as expected, but the pups that did not spend the night with her did not gain weight well. To provide Atalanta with access to both groups of pups at all times, I took the front panel off the wooden whelping pen and set up two size 500 airline crate bottoms side by side. Each crate had a heating pad to keep the pups warm. (Note: These crate bottoms are rotated 90 degrees from the position of the original, single size 500 crate bottom shown in Plan A and Plan B photos.)

I made taller front boards (see left crate), anticipating that at least some of the pups would be able to climb over the short boards before the two groups would be recombined. I made box platforms for Atalanta to step on before getting into the crates so she would not have to jump into the crates when the taller boards were used. I set up the platforms while the shorter boards were being used so Atalanta could become accustomed to them. The platforms were 3.25 inches tall. One was 20 x 22 inches and the other was 22 x 24 inches: the smaller one can nest inside the larger one for storage. A rubber antifatigue mat on top of the platform provided secure footing.

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Updated 11 May 2003
Copyright 2001 - 2003 Adele C. Monroe
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