Dog playpens are great alternatives to crates and kennels in that they provide exceptional freedom of movement for pooches while guaranteeing their safety. While not everyone would agree to the use of such pieces of canine furniture, many dog lovers and experts actually use them for a variety of purposes, but mostly to provide a good balance of doggie freedom and safety. However, to maximize these benefits it is imperative that only the best and most appropriate pet playpen be chosen for your canine friend. Not to worry though as our list of the 10 best dog playpens have you covered.

Dog Playpen Buying Guide

As we have mentioned in our introduction, doggie playpens are exceptional pieces of canine furniture that allow you to provide your pooches with a certain degree of freedom that is far greater than what they have inside a crate or kennel. In the following sections, we will try to explore some of the most pressing concerns any dog playpen buyer faces. We’ll start with a determination whether your dog really needs a play pen or not. We’ll also be sharing with you a few things you may want to consider before making that purchase. Of course, we’ll round it up with a presentation of some of the most common types of dog play pens. By the time you finish with this article, you’d already have all the knowledge you need to make the correct decision.

does my dog need a playpen

Does My Dog Need a Playpen?

For most of us, having a doggie play area is actually not a requirement especially if we have plenty of time to bring them to the park for a few hours of fun and exercise every single day. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to afford their pooches with the luxury of undivided time and attention. You would actually be lucky to find a dog owner who can really devote at least 2 hours of his or her time solely on the play and exercise needs of his or her pet canines. And this is just the play part we’re talking about.

So, does your dog really need a playpen?

Let’s try to rephrase it this way: does your young child need a playpen?

The reason why we had to make an analogy to a child is that we are essentially the pet parents of our dogs. Silly as it may sound but the responsibility for taking care of these pooches have fallen squarely on our shoulders the moment we decided to either purchase them from a reputable breeder or adopt them from the shelter. The point is that, since we have taken the responsibility to take care of these adorable creatures, we might as well give them the best.

To answer the question whether your pet canine needs a play pen or not, let us look at the benefits that you and your doggie can derive from this type of canine instrument.

  • Ensures safer playtime 

If you take your canine friend to the park, it is quite impossible to have your eyes glued on it all the time. Chances are there will be instances when it will be picking up things, swallowing these, and ending up sick. If you put your furry friend in a confined space, you are effectively limiting what it can pick up. You can choose the things that you want to be present within this confined area. You can place its favorite toy or even another dog that your pet is familiar and friendly with. The point is that a playpen allows you to control so many variables all at once to make sure that playtime is indeed fun and safe.

  • Helps in canine socialization 

Depending on the size of your pet playpen, you can actually help your pooch develop its own socialization skills. For instance, a variety of outdoor dog pen products can accommodate more than 5 dogs at a time and they will still have plenty of space to run about and play with one another. You can take this opportunity to develop your pet’s social skills by allowing it to interact with select dogs that are properly trained and are well-mannered as well.

Compare this to an open area where any other dog can virtually come up to your pet. While your pet dog may be fully trained and well-behaved, there simply is no telling that the other dog will be the same. It is all a matter of safety again.

  • Promotes doggie happiness 

While the playpen does not actually guarantee absolute freedom for your pet, it nevertheless provides a feeling of such. A dog that is able to run about, jump as high as it wants, or even play with all the different toys without getting yelled at can truly feel a lot happier and more content. Besides, increased free play can help your doggie friend to dispense of its energy so that it will feel more relaxed afterwards.

  • Provides a safer environment for your guests without necessarily hiding your pooch 

You’re hosting a party at home, but there are some guests who are quite averse to dogs. What do you do? You can either put your pooches in their respective crates, but that would simply be not right considering some of your guests are dog lovers, too. A better option is to put your pets in a playpen so they get to see your guests and vice versa. Since they are confined to a particular section in your home, they will not be disturbing or annoying anyone. Additionally, for your guests who would like to pet your pooches can simply enter the pen and get up close and personal with your doggies. It’s a win-win situation for both your pets and your guests.

  • Helps minimize damage to your furnishings and other belongings 

Whether you care to admit it or not, you don’t want to come home to a home with damaged furnishings, upholstery torn apart, and carpet shredded to bits. You can always put your pets in the crates but this will somehow restrict their freedom of movement. Putting them in a large-enough playpen should help provide for a safer area for them and away from your precious items. Of course there is a tendency for your pet to scale the walls of the pen and escape. That is why training is still a very important aspect of using the playpen.

  • A better alternative to kennels and crates 

Let us look at the logic behind putting dogs in crates or kennels. These are exceptional pieces of canine shelters, mind you. They can sleep and have their own privacy inside these pet homes. However, if it’s privacy you’re after, putting a crate inside a playpen should be a better option since this allows your pets to move freely once it is already awake from its slumber. It is this idea of an open, albeit limited space for dogs to move about that makes doggie play pens such a huge hit among dog owners.

  • Facilitates easier training 

Training pets is not really easy, especially in the initial stages. If you are going to train them inside the house, chances are they’ll be running from room to room and it will be a game of hide and seek. If you put them in their crates, it wouldn’t help either. Putting them in a play pen, meanwhile, significantly reduces the amount of space that they will be running so you have better control of your training sessions. The mere fact that will still be able to run gives them the impression that you are not punishing them. Of course, diligence and perseverance still matters as well as a very methodical approach to training. Now, if you’re talking about crate training, then this is definitely not for you.

With all these benefits of using a doggie play pen, it would be quite baffling if you will still not consider on getting one for your pet. However, to provide you with a more balanced approach to this presentation, we are going to give you a few of the downsides to using a playpen.

  • The question of portability 

Unlike crates some doggie playpens are not really portable. While it is true that they can be easily folded down for ease of transportation and storage, you will still require a separate travel crate to put your pooch into while on the road. You simply cannot put a pet on a folded-down play pen. Another thing is that it is still heavy even though it can be folded. This significantly affects its overall portability. Sure, you can always put it in the back of your truck or even in your car’s trunk but you’d still have to carry it. A better alternative is to get pop-up types of play pens. Of course, these have downsides, too.

  • Some pens are easily knocked over 

This is best addressed by buying only dog play pens that are made of the highest quality, most durable, and sturdiest materials. You will also need to check the integrity of their joints and other attachments. For sure, the price will be a factor but if you want something really sturdy and not get easily knocked over, then you’d have to be prepared to shell out some more.

So, does your dog need a playpen? The decision is yours.

Things to Consider When Buying a Dog Playpen

If you have already made up your mind and have decided to get a playpen for your pet, the next thing you need to focus on is choosing the right one for your pooch. If you’re going to look at the market today there are a lot of choices. Each one can be a good candidate for the best dog playpen plum. However, before you pick one, you need to consider some things first.

  • Location and size 

These two parameters go hand-in-hand since the area where you’re going to place the pen in will determine the size of the pen. For example, if you decide to place the doggie play pen inside a certain room in your house, you will have to consider the general area of this room. Then you will need to ask yourself if the play pen is going to occupy the entire room or just half of it or maybe a quarter. You decide since only you know the actual layout of your room. In case you decide to put it in your garden or backyard, you will have more leeway in the choice of pen size. Do take note, however, that the larger the pen the more expensive it becomes.

When it comes to size, which technically pertains to space, it’s all about what you think is enough for you to place your dog, its feeding and drinking bowls, its bed, its toys and other accessories, and still have plenty of space left for it to romp around. Otherwise, if your pooch cannot move about, then all you have is a crate without a roof.

  • Indoor or outdoor 

There is a huge difference between an indoor-only pen and an exclusive outdoor use play pen. For starters, an indoor pen should have furniture- and floor- friendly surfaces, attachments, and components so that it will not inadvertently damage your home’s interior. Weatherproofing is also not a requirement since it is already located inside the home and virtually protected from the elements.

On the other hand, if you choose to get something for the outdoors, then choose one that is weatherproof. It should have some form of protection against corrosion, dust, rain, snow, and anything else that Mother Nature might throw at it. While it is not advisable to place your playpen under direct sunlight, you might really have to choose one that has UV protection.

  • Size and activity level of your pooch 

This will somehow tell you the kind of material that you may have to look for. If you have a pooch that is relatively docile, passive, and one that will never jump or scale up the wall of the pen, then plastic playpens may be a great option. Even a playpen that’s made of fabric material can be a safe bet if you’re talking about a rather passive, inactive canine.

However, if you’re looking at a rather rambunctious hound, one whose energy levels are so high that there really is no taming them, then getting something sturdier should do the trick. You can go for wooden or steel playpens.

Another consideration is the chewing behavior of your pooch. If you’ve got a mighty and tenacious chewer, choosing wood will be a huge mistake. Your best choice will be those that are made of steel, although some high grade plastics can provide exceptional chew-resistance, too. What all these simply mean is that you need to understand the uniqueness of your pet so you can choose a product whose materials are appropriate to these unique canine characteristics.

  • Ease of setup, maintenance, and storage 

We did say that portability is not really a great asset of doggie playpens especially those that are constructed of metal, steel, or wood, and even some premium grade plastics. At the very least they should still be very easy to setup, take down, and store. Some of the easiest to setup are those products that are made of fabric attached to spring metal rings that instantly pop open. These are lightweight, too, so you can bring them along. 

Types of Dog Play Pens

We have already brushed on this in our previous discussions. Doggie playpens can actually be classified according to their location and the principal material they are made of.

  • Indoor 

As the name implies, these are best used indoors. Majority of these are lightweight and are portable, too. They are easily assembled as well as dismantled. There are those that don’t require any tools whatsoever. The downside is that majority of these are also relatively small compared to their outdoor counterparts. You can think of an indoor dog playpen more like your baby’s crib. Since these are located inside the home, they do have the tendency to move across the floor especially if you have a rambunctious pup or pooch. Placing some barriers outside the fence should keep it in place.

  • Outdoor

One of the fundamental requirements of an outdoor playpen, as we have already pointed out is that it needs to be weatherproof and exceptionally durable and strong. A great number of these types of play pens are constructed of wire mesh, often coated with weatherproofing materials. The good thing about these types of pens is that they are more like a miniature property fence; they’re larger and hence, encompass a larger area for your pet to romp. These can be easily dismantled, too. You may need to secure this onto the ground so that it will not be moved by your pet.

  • Plastic 

These are lightweight and very durable materials. They come in various colors and designs. They can be used indoors or outdoors, too. Some are very resilient against chewing. Just make sure to get only those that do not come with harmful chemicals such as phthalates, formaldehyde, BPA, and others.

  • Wood 

Classic and sturdy, that’s what a wooden playpen brings to the table. Because these are often at the mercy of the elements, they are best used indoors. They can add a certain level of elegance to one’s interior design. However, they may not be particularly receptive to canine chewing. As such, these are best reserved for canine pets that are more on the passive side or have softer jaws.

  • Steel or wire 

Wire or steel pens are the go-to if you need something that can really stand the test of time. However, it is crucial to look for a product with exceptional weatherproofing since metal exposed to the elements can favor the formation of rust. This can significantly undermine the overall integrity of the pen. That said, steel or wire cages can be used either indoors or outdoors. If used indoors, you’d definitely want something with padded feet as steel can scratch floor surfaces. If used outdoors, as we already mentioned, these should have weatherproofing.

  • Cloth or fabric 

If it’s absolute versatility, lightweight design, and portability that you’re after, then a dog playpen that’s made of cloth or fabric is the way to go. Their versatility extends well to outdoor use especially if you are entertaining the idea of bringing your pooch to the family picnic but are worried that it might wander too far for your convenience. These are easy to set up and are often designed as foldable pop-ups. Care should be observed, though, as it is not as tough and sturdy as the other materials used in the construction of a dog playpen.

Getting a playpen for your pooch could perhaps be one of the most satisfying decisions you will ever make. Not only are you affording your pooch a really great time playing within the confines of its pen, you’re also ensuring optimum safety for you, your pet, and everyone else in your home. And if you’re still at a loss as to how you can choose the best dog playpen for your pet, you can always consider any one of our 10 best.

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Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for MyPetNeedsThat.com, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!

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