A dog playpen is the best way to train your puppy or dog in a fun yet safe space, protected from anything potentially harmful. Managing your young dog at home while you are outside or even inside can be tricky, even with an attentive puppy proofing of all the rooms.
Leaving your pet alone in the area you have delimited and feeling worry-free while you aren’t supervising your dog is priceless. I hate when I’ve got to let my babies home on their own, let alone if I am not sure to find them alive when I get back.
Do I Need a Playpen For My Dogs?
A puppy playpen is a tool helping you raise a well-behaved puppy. Puppies instinctively seek presence: yours, other dogs, children, anything that moves and that makes them feel safe and amused. You must remove that instinct from within your dog’s brain and sooner than you think, he or she will be actually happy to have some alone time to relax and sleep peacefully.
Not just that, it is also a safe confined area where you can leave your dog worry-free. Playpens are your most important tool if you can’t afford to supervise your pet all the time, perhaps because you work long hours, even from home.
If you have a safe garden and want to allow your puppies and dogs to go from yard to home, and vice-versa, investing in a quality dog door would be more judicious.
All in all, a puppy pen is a must-have for everybody even if it will not be used every day forever. It refrains your dog or puppy from chewing on dangerous outlets, and teaches them to be happy alone with great toys to play with! What’s not to love?
How To Choose The Best Dog Playpen?
Although they seem to all look the same, there are several points that make a huge difference between a low-quality xpen and a top-of-the-range exercising pen.
Obviously, space is something to start the selection process with: you want your dog to have enough room to walk around, stretch, and grow while always having enough space.
There must be enough space for you to place a training pad or fake grass so your dog can toilet without it being too close to the bed area. The bed area must be comfortable and somewhat different: try covering it, or separating it from the rest of the pen.
The construction of the playpen should make you decide between two good models. Prefer a sturdy plastic model if you have small dogs or if you’ll leave the playpen outdoor in the rain. It will prevent mold and rust. Prefer metallic wired pens if you have larger dogs and want something that will last even if it rusts a little.
Safety is another point manufacturers have greatly improved over the last years, and it’s good. A dog playpen should remain steady, firmly attached to the ground, panels safely locked together, and the gate extra secure. If not, well, chances are the panels will fall down like a house of cards.
Dog Crates vs Playpens
Unlike crates, dog playpens do not provide a flooring or tray system. Both, dog crates and puppy playpens, are effective containment systems for dogs. While both products are enclosures, playpens generally can be extended by attaching more panes.
Crates are recommended for indoor use and housebreaking due to their tray helping with the cleanup. Playpens are ideal for larger dogs and outdoor use. Regardless, make sure the crate or xpen is comfortable using dog blankets, a comfortable bedding, and always some fresh water available.
Top 6 Best Dog Playpens
Here are our winners for the best dog playpens. Look through the five, and pick the one you think will suit you the best for either outdoor or indoor use.
1. Parkland Pet Playpen with Carrying Bag
If you need a top-quality soft-sided playpen, this is a top choice indeed. Setting this one up takes a couple of seconds thanks to its steel-framed pop-up. Made using 900D Oxford polyester canvas fabric, this pen is accompanied by two very useful accessories:
- a washable pad – for enhanced comfort within the soft-sided playpen
- a carry bag – for storage and travel-friendliness
Thanks to its premium engineering, this playpen will resist gentle scratching. Obviously, aggressive chewers and scratchers still need a heavy-duty crate rather than a soft playpen.
Coming in two sizes, this soft crate is ideal for puppies and up to medium-sized dogs. You can use it as a private den or as a training pen. A lot of customers also take it along on various travels, but mostly short journeys or to go camping.
You can try it risk-free thanks to the 60-day warranty which you can get all of your money back if you are not satisfied for any reason – no questions asked!
2. BestPet Heavy Duty Pet Playpen Dog Outdoor
This is the best outdoor playpen for dogs, but unfortunately, it will not do well indoor (read scratches and not super foldable.)
It is a heavy-duty playpen so weather and elements won’t affect it much even after a couple of years. I would simply suggest a quick disinfection every few days or week and you’ll be fine.
Thanks to the 8-panel construction, you can shape it differently without buying any extra parts. It can be octogonal, squared or L -shaped. The 8th panel being the actual door, it has a little panel that will remain so puppies can’t escape even if the door is left open.
The BestPet Dog Playpen is ideal in the long run because of its modularity. You can buy two and make an even bigger space, or three, or four, or as many as you need for your dogs. Whether you buy an extra panel or just several playpens, the pieces match so in few clicks you can have a spacious safe area for your dogs!
BestPets manufactures exercise pens of various sizes and heights to suit all dog owners. Make sure you get the right size, and one piece of advice: you rather want a bigger and taller pen than the opposite… Dogs can jump!!
3. MidWest Exercise Pen Outdoor
A famous brand for pet equipment, MidWest offers a quality playpen for dogs with double-latch door access, ground anchors, and corner stabilizers.
This is solid and sturdy equipment that, for all the travelers amongst you, folds nearly flat. There is no bag or packaging, so it will have to be transported as is if you go on the road.
There are 5 different heights available for the panels: 24in, 30in, 36in, 42in and 48in. As always, go for taller than you think, simply to be on the safe side.
No tools required for this pen, you simply need to assemble it. It may be a pro for many but I know breeders aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty so no tools could mean a not super sturdy pen. The BestPet seems stronger once anchored in the ground but this MidWest playpen is from far the best for people needing a mobile pen (camping, for example.)
To quote a reviewer on Amazon, “The metal bars are not the flimsy type like you see in pet cages, but thick no-nonsense bars with impeccable quality in their golden zinc finish. The playpen has 8 panels that fold in any direction so you can shape the 16-foot long product into a room divider, or snap the ends together with the included golden spring clips to form a rectangle or octagon.”
4. Precision Soft Side Play Pen Indoor
Wow. When I started studying the best play pens on the market, I never thought I would actually recommend a soft-side playpen for dogs to you. Yet, the Precision Soft Side Play Pen proved me wrong and I admit defeat.
Those who already have it know how sturdy and strong this xpen is, unlike what we may think at first sight. There have been cats jumping on it, big dogs running against it, and this soft playpen took every challenge perfectly without a scratch.
It is obviously an indoor exercise pen, and would better suit small and medium dogs. Giant breeds would probably not feel super comfortable in it. The speed at which it unfolds is pretty insane, and it folds at the same speed… It is the best option for the ones traveling, especially for holiday rentals. The carrying case is included.
The bottom panel is zipped so you can take it off and wash it as often as you want plus, everything has been built using water-resistant materials which helps if you have it set up outside temporarily.
5. IRIS Indoor & Outdoor Plastic Pet Pen
Built-in the United States, this puppy pen is very well suited to mixed indoor and outdoor use. It is made of durable heavy-duty molded plastic so you can rest assured that this playpen will never rust, even in the frequent rain.
The 8-panel construction is solid and comes with non-skid rubber feet to protect your flooring, especially for indoor uses as metallic pens tend to scratch floors. The panels interlock together securely with full-length connecting rods.
We love this dog playpen because you can easily fold it and transport it anywhere. It is light and sturdy. The plastic material makes it extremely easy to clean and disinfect — ideal when left outside and needs to quickly be put indoors.
For the look, this playpen comes in two sizes of either 4 or 8 panels, and different colors such as chocolate, white, green, blue, chrome, and more!
6. Richell Convertible High Pet Playpen
Those who say a pen is a pen never enjoyed the perks of having the Richell Playpen. Surely it looks like a simple playpen but it is full of ingenious features that will simply make your life a lot easier.
First, it is made of extremely durable plastic that can be used inside or outside: no mold, no germs, and no contamination can survive on it. It comes delivered with a mat to provide extra comfort to your dogs but you can also use it as a cover if the conditions are not ideal outside. The plastic is completely water-resistant, no rust!
Simple but so efficient, the bars are vertical so dogs can’t try to climb — no horizontal bars means they can’t keep trying! For extra sturdiness, the Richell Convertible Playpen comes with its own specially designed caps to safely lock the panels in place at 90°, 120°, and 180° angles. It really provides so much extra stability, it’s crazy.
The door also has a safety lock so your kids or your smart dog can’t escape. Too many pens and gates are easy to open and catastrophic situations can occur; well not with this pen!
Like most pens, the panels can be laid out as a rectangle or square or even as a hexagon. Good to know: it can convert itself into a pet gate and room divider easily.
As a hobby breeder of some toy breeds that like to climb, I have tried out quite a few play yards. Richell has designed one that is made to hold up and gives our little monkey dogs no place to get a purchase on so they can’t scale the walls because there are no horizontal bars. Also is super easy to wipe clean the 6 plastic panels, unlike many other models that have lots of small openings that collect grime.Reviewer on Amazon
Getting The Dog Familiar With The Play Pen
The best start is to introduce the playpen to your puppy from the first weeks so it sees it as part of life and grows extremely happy being in it. Older dogs, however, will take some more encouragement to get inside and remain there calmly.
Just like crate training, it has to start gradually with few minutes here and there, with you in the room, then without, then with increments of the duration.
Toys and treats are amazing to give that extra push, especially with stubborn dogs. However, you don’t want to abuse treats as they may become the gateway drug to get your dogs to do anything. Toys, however, should always be in the pen and you can throw in a new one sometimes when you’ve got to disappear for some time.
A Playpen Is Not a Prison
Something too many dog owners and breeders do is to force their dogs into the pen or put them in it to punish them for undesired behavior. This is a massive error: it makes your dog associate the playpen with a bad experience. Never force your dog to enter the x-pen.
Instead, simply take the time to gradually get your dog to love it, and actually, want it. What I did with my Border Collie is to sometimes put her food in the pen, and close the door so she cannot access it. It made her crave the food and being inside that pen. And now, she loves :)
Crying and Whining: Don't Give Up!
It is horribly hard to ignore your dog’s pitiful look, and it becomes harder when it starts whining. Some will go as far as insistent loud barks. DO NOT GIVE UP.
Even more… Don’t even pay attention, don’t look at your dog, don’t pronounce a word, don’t mumble, don’t puff, don’t have any reaction. By doing so, you are showing how useless crying is, and all dogs will stop doing this, you just need to be constant over a few days or weeks to succeed.
When you are ready to open the gate to let your dog(s) go, ask them to calm down and sit before opening the door. It won’t be easy at first as both the dog and yourself will be impatient to hug each other ha!
These are clearly the best dog playpens on the market. Some are more expensive, some less, but they are all offering amazing value for their price tag.
The Richell is the one that looks the best while offering inventive features that simply make your dog’s life safer. If you are going to set up the dog playpen outside, you may prefer a sturdy, less sexy, metallic pen like the BestPet Heavy Duty Pet Playpen. For dual-use, the MidWest playpen is definitely a good value for money.