Provisions for Puppies
Obviously if we wanted to continue breeding provisions for having litters needed to be created at Rancho Relaxo. When we looked at the house we immediately saw potential but many aspects of what we needed were missing.
When we had looked at manufactured houses we were often impressed with the extra space they seemed to provide with master bedrooms. In this house we immediately saw that the nook off the master bedroom would be great for puppies, especially early in the life of a litter when someone needed to get sleep while the other one watched puppies. With the nook attached to the master bedroom with a wall between it looked perfect.
Unfortunately there was no access outside from the nook. I looked closely at the situation and discovered that there was plenty of room in the side yard for a small deck. Instead of a staircase to get down to the ground I perceived having a ramp. The only thing missing was a door which we had installed when our contractor built the deck.
The yard outside the nook stays shady much of the year so we had already decided to install artificial turf rather than real grass. For the puppies this turned out to be a good choice. To help with shade during the afternoon and to provide protection of young puppies from our local predatory bird population there was room right next to the deck and ramp for a 10' x 10' canopy. The legs of the canopy provided some stability for ex-pen fencing to make a smaller space for puppies. As puppies get bigger we are able to expand the ex-pen to give them more space to romp and play.
We've now used this set up for three litters. It's worked very well. While we're taking a needed break before our next litter we've already redesigned the ramp to make it less steep.
Joy's second litter was the first to utilize our plans for litters. As can be seen above we covered the laminant floor in the nook with a sheet of linoleum to protect the floor and set up the whelping box in the corner of the room.
The Whelping Box
The Puppy Yard
The puppies quickly learn to use the ramp up and down to and from the nook and the puppy yard below. NOTE: We have recently rebuilt this ramp. W'll have some updated photos after our next litter.
The puppy yard is first used toward the end of the time the puppies are in the whelping box until they are ready to go home to their new families. As they get older we adjust the size of the ex-pen in the yard to give the growing puppies the appropriate amount of space.
We even start feeding the litters outside whenever possible.
Obviously the litter box has become too small for the litter in the picture on the left. That day they were transitioned over to an exercise pen in the same spot. We invited some friends over to watch the litter outside while we took down the litter box and erected the ex-pen in its place.
Inside Exercise Pen
Once the puppies are old enough to learn how to negotiate our doggie doors we start giving them some time each day out in our kennel building and dog runs. Because the building and attached runs are completely closed off from the outside the puppies can safely be out there for long periods of time during the day.