Maintaining the whelping box and providing a clean and healthy environment for a new litter of pups can be a chore. When my dogs whelp I make sure the mother is comfortable in her new home. The mother sleeps in the box for at least a week prior to whelping. My Lab’s litters are born on a smooth plywood floor. This allows the mother to clean up the pups, and naturally the new pups don’t get lost in the bedding. During the first 7 to 10 days mom keeps her young and the whelping box floor clean, but bedding material is a must as the pups approach a couple of weeks.
I have used many different materials for bedding. Wood chips work great but can be hard to find. Newspaper is cumbersome because it gets moved around in the box by mom and the pups and doesn’t absorb wastes very well. However, shredded newspaper from a recycling center is excellent because the material has the bulky characteristics of wood shavings and absorbs moisture like a paper towel. In addition, the pups can move around in the material with ease. One disadvantage to this material is that it can be dusty, similar to wood shavings, as the pups get active and move around in the box.
Check with your local recycling center for the shredded newspapers. The material is packaged in an easy-to-handle plastic wrap and is about the size of a straw bale. Our local recycler here in Minnesota sells it for $2 per bale. Two bales have enough bedding for a litter of eight active black Lab pups. In addition, I had extra material available for night crawler bedding.