Once you’ve led your dog through a successful pregnancy, the time will eventually come to help her bring her puppies into the world. Whelping is a scary time for many first-time dog breeders, and any responsible dog breeder will tell you there is always a certain amount of nerves before the arrival of every litter. If you want to make the whelping as stress-free as possible, follow these tips for being calm and prepared throughout the process.
Three weeks before your bitches due date, gather all of the necessary pet supplies and start looking out for the telltale signs that she is ready to give birth. You should aim to have the whelping box ready at least three weeks before the due date, as some inexperienced breeders can get caught out by an early whelping. Your whelping box needs to be placed in a warm and dry place where your bitch feels secure. It will be your puppies home for at least the first three weeks of their lives, so it needs to be easy to clean, tall enough to keep your puppies secure but short enough that your bitch can easily step over the walls.
Let your vet know
You will probably be in touch with your vet in the run up to the due date anyway, but you should make sure you also have an out-of-hours emergency number and access to transport 24/7 in case you need to rush your bitch to the vet. Your vet will be able to advise you on things such as what to feed your bitch during and after the whelping, and key things to look out for. If you know another dog breeder or experienced dog owner, they may be able to provide much-needed support and a second pair of hands that will prove invaluable.
Gather the essentials
In addition to your whelping box, you might also need some medical supplies – not to mention the expertise and confidence to know when and how to use them. Although many dogs will give birth unaided, there are occasions that will require assistance or some breeds that will struggle to give birth without surgical intervention.
Take care of yourself
Dog breeding is tiring work, so it’s important that you take care of yourself throughout the process. It’s not uncommon for people to go all night without sleep or forego food for longer than advisable. If nothing else, make sure you stay hydrated and try to share the whelping responsibility with another person, either a vet or someone experienced in dog breeding.
Once you've got a healthy litter of puppies to care for, the hard work isn't over yet. You will have to have them checked by a vet, comply with all the right vaccinations, and if you keep them until they are eight weeks old you'll have to have them fitted with pet microchips.