Luna had a healthy litter of Micro Mini-Goldendoodles here in our home in Boise, Idaho, a few days ago!
The week leading up to a litter's birth can be a little chaotic, but mostly we are doing a lot of waiting for puppies to arrive. Luna was not nervous at all for this whelping. It probably helps that she's had a couple of litters before this and knows what to expect!
So, what do we do to get ready for whelping a litter? And, by the way, what exactly does whelping mean? Let's talk about it!
What is Whelping?
The word whelping is used all the time in the dog breeding world. It can refer to a couple of different things as well. First and foremost, whelping means a mama dog is having puppies. So, labor and delivery. But, more broadly, the word whelping also refers to the time period from when a mama dog goes into labor, all the way until the puppies are weaned and go home to their new families. This span of time usually spans 6-9 weeks. Pretty neat, right?
How do we get ready for whelping?
1. We talk to the vet!
From start to finish, we are working with our Veterinarian to make sure our mamas are healthy enough to go through the breeding process.
2. Gather supplies
About a week before the due date, we open up the totes where we keep all of our extra sheets, blankets, and towels. Those all get washed and placed near where we plan to whelp. Along with that, we keep a timer, snacks for the mama and for us humans, and a charged device to watch some movies. Luna's whelping was fast this time, from start to finish, taking about 4 hours. Sometimes though, it can take all day (or night!!). Puppies arrive one at a time, and there can be some boring stretches in between appearances. That's where the charged device for movies comes in.
3. We keep an eye on the mama
Luna started nesting about three days before whelping. Nesting means that she was 'digging' in the bedding we prepped for her and getting ready for her puppies to arrive. Some dogs during this time are prone to digging a den for their coming puppies. This is instinctive, and so we don't try and train our dogs not to do this. But, about 2 weeks before whelping, all of our mamas are accompanied outside for potty breaks and exercise to deter them from digging.
Luna will also start showing signs when active labor begins, and we keep an eye on her and keep that week free of plans so that we can drop what we're doing when Luna starts laboring.
4. We take a lot of naps
Puppies are not considerate enough to be born during banking hours very often. In our experience, mama dogs are very likely to go into labor right as the house is quieting down and going to bed. Or, at 4 am. Either way, we like to be as well-rested as possible, especially as the due date gets closer Luna has to be checked on several times a night. So, naps are a big part of our pre-whelping planning!
Puppies arrive, and we rush around keeping them warm enough, and dry enough, and eating enough. Then we also hang out and watch movies and wait around a lot. Mama dogs can do almost all of the work themselves; we humans are mostly there for support and provide a safe environment for the litter. But we like to hang out too, on the off-chance there's an emergency or something comes up.
It's well worth it for us to be prepped before a whelping because there's much less time after the puppies arrive. For us, the next couple of months is quite busy. We'll be raising puppies and finding families for these sweeties and everything else that comes with a litter. Getting a good start to whelping makes the next couple of months so much easier!