This is our review of the best dog playpen products in 2022
Dogs are a part of the family and we love taking care of them, but that doesn’t mean we can always be by their side.
When we have to leave them at home, it’s essential to make sure they’re in a safe environment where they can’t get into trouble. That’s why finding the best dog playpen is so important.
Our top pick is the MidWest Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen. It’s a breeze to set up, provides 16 square feet of space, can be used either indoors or outdoors and you can even buy a wire or sunscreen top.
In this guide, we’ll be reviewing:
What separates the best dog playpens from the inferior ones? While there are a few different factors at play, we’ll explore what you should be looking for
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about choosing and using puppy playpens.
Our Best Dog PlayPen Options
Best Overall – MidWest Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen
This easy to use pet playpen is great for use both indoors and also for outdoor use. The midwest exercise pen has a hinged door for easy access and 8 ground anchors to keep your dog safe when used as an outdoor pet pen.
The whole unit folds flat for easy storage and can provide ample space for small dogs and medium-sized dogs, thanks to its 16 square feet of usable space.
The multiple panels of this metallic pen are coated with water-resistant materials and a rust-resistant coating to protect against wear and damage from the elements.
This dog pen requires no tools to set up and even comes with a one year manufacturer’s warranty. We think this is easily one of the best metal playpens for use indoors or outside
Heavy Duty – UNDERDOG Extra Heavy Duty Puppy Play Pen
A heavy-duty, durable dog pen perfectly suited to use both indoors and out. This UNDERDOG metallic pen features eight panels made from heavy-duty metal that can stand up to even the most energetic dogs.
The panels can be arranged in various configurations, including a square shape, rectangular shape or even an octagon to suit your and your dog’s lifestyle.
As a taller pen, we think this is the best pet playpen for active dogs or a strong dog that often breaks free from wire playpens.
It can be folded flat for easy storage and is coated in a pet-safe protective seal, making it perfect for an outdoor dog playpen and safe personal space for your dog.
Top Plastic Choice – Iris Ohyama, Dog playpen
If you’re looking for plastic pet playpens, look no further than this handy dog space made from lightweight and weather-resistant plastic. Suitable for use both indoors or outside in the garden this small plastic pet playpen is great for miniature dogs, young dogs, or even small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs.
This sturdy portable plastic playpen for pups can be easily moved and stored, with fully wipe-able surfaces for quick and simple cleaning. Whilst the base model is one of the smaller dog playpens on this list, there is an option to purchase additional panels to create a more oversized playpen for your pet.
With the ability to include up to eight panels to form different shapes, this is an excellent choice for a puppy playpen or a safe personal space for smaller animals.
#1 Portable Pick – Zampa Portable Foldable Pet playpen
Featuring protected seams and reinforced corners, this fully portable playpen may not be as heavy-duty as the metal dog playpen choices on this list, but it’s certainly our top pick for a soft playpen that be easily transported for families on the move!
Designed for maximum functionality, this pet playpen features mesh windows and handy pockets to store all of your dog’s necessary items.
Consisting of panels made from water-resistant materials, this puppy playpen is ideally suited for use either indoors or outdoors.
With an included carry bag for maximum portability, we recommend this travel pen for dogs that regularly find themselves on family adventures!
Best With Roof – Petsfit Puppy Pen
Our top choice for fully enclosed dog playpen with an attached roof, this fully portable product is ideal for travelling but isn’t quite as waterproof as some competitors.
Mesh windows in each of the eight panels allow you to keep an eye on your dog, with handy pockets situated beneath to keep all of their necessary items on hand.
Best suited for use indoors, this soft and safe dog playpen folds flat for easy storage and can be easily cleaned with a wet brush. It’s an excellent option for an exercise pen for small pets and puppies or a puppy playpen to keep your dog safe.
Cheap & Budget – Amazon Basics Dog Exercise Pen With Gate
The best pet playpen for families on a budget, this sturdy enclosure works great as a dog playpen for indoors and can be also be used as an outdoor playpen thanks to the eight included ground stakes that allow you to use this pen safely.
It’s easy to assemble without the requirement of tools and can be simply folded away when not in use to be easily stored.
Horizontal bars provide added reinforcement for the more energetic dogs in your family. The easily manipulated design means this pet playpen can even be used as a room divider if necessary.
Great for Wood Lovers – Unipaws Extra Wide Dog Gate, Pet Playpen
A stylishly designed and highly functionaldog playpen for indoors, this Unipaws enclosure is made mostly from wood, with fully rotating hinges that allow it to be used as a room divider or pet gate.
Metal enclosure bars within the strong pressed wood frame provide this pet playpen with the added weight and stability needed for active dogs or adult dogs that like to jump up onto the panels.
This stylish dog pen’s sleek design and glossy finish make it great for families that take pride in their furnishings, and its sturdy, quality design makes it incredibly functional and robust.
Best Puppy Pen – Ellie-Bo Easy-Up 8 Piece Playpen
Made from lightweight galvanised steel and featuring an interlocking concertina design, this exercise pen and puppy playpen is straightforward to use and store whilst also highly functional for indoor and outdoor use.
The portability of this design makes it perfectly suited for an outdoor puppy playpen and it can be easily transported to be used as a dog playpen, indoor enclosure or room divider.
Great for energetic puppies and young dogs, this versatile product can be extended by purchasing additional panels (up to 8) to accommodate a large dog or suit your needs for a large dog playpen, outdoor enclosure or larger room divider.
This medium sized playpen boasts an 8-panel foldable design with a door for easy access. One of it’s key features is the included water-resistant floor mat – it stops pups from digging and makes any messes easy to clean up.
The ground stakes are also great for keeping the playpen in place outside. Plus it’s really easy to put up and take down and folds flat for easy storage when not in use
Reading the reviews it appears this playpen is quite easy to climb out though so it may not be te best option for determined pups
7 Ways in Which a Dog Pen is Invaluable
Puppy playpens are important for younger dogs as they provide your pet with a safe space to call their own. Puppies can be nervous about their new surroundings, and most will feel the benefits of having personal space.
Puppies can be incredibly energetic and inquisitive, but they also need a large amount of sleep to ensure that they are healthy and happy. Providing your dog with a puppy playpen and a comfy bed that they feel safe in can significantly improve their sleep quality and help them remain healthy as they grow.
Puppy pens for breeders
When dogs give birth, they need a safe space to contain the pups, both for the mother’s mental wellbeing and the pup’s physical safety. A puppy playpen with a comfortable interior and good visibility is necessary to keep both the mother and the pups safe.
Dog playpens with lower railings are useful, as the bars can prevent the puppies from escaping but will allow the mother to enter and exit the enclosure safely.
Bringing home a new puppy.
A newly introduced puppy will benefit greatly from a puppy pen as this space to call their own will help them relieve any anxieties they may have. Providing your new puppy with an enclosed area will allow them to settle into their new space and reassure them that they are protected and safe.
Dog crates and dog playpens are important when taking your dog on holiday for various reasons. When travelling, your dog should have a comfortable and safe dog crate that will help to keep them calm during the stresses of travelling.
Providing your dog with a pet playpen at your destination will help them understand that they are still in a “home” environment.
A comfortable space with blankets and bedding will keep your dog calm and provide them with a sense of comfort to relieve any travel-related anxiety whilst protecting hotel or holiday home furniture.
Providing your dog with a safe space whilst you are not home is critical to curbing any separation anxiety that can lead to destructive behaviours and discomfort.
Dog’s will naturally seek out a protected area when left alone, where they can have access to food, water and shelter, with a good view of their surroundings to scope out any danger.
Crate training your dog from a young age will help them regulate their anxiety better and result in a calm older dog that will comfortably catch up on some sleep whilst you’re out during the day!
In the garden
Dog playpens for outside play are a great safety measure that prevents your dog from running off or escaping. An outside dog playpen will provide a safe and enclosed space that your dog can be left to enjoy whilst you carry out any daily errands.
A large outdoor pet playpen will allow your dog to enjoy their daily exercise, and the benefits of some fresh air, without running the risk of escaping. If your household includes children or small animals or you’re having a family BBQ, outdoor animal pens can help to keep everybody safely separated.
If your dog is highly social or becomes over-excited around new people, rowdy kids or begs for food when people are eating, a dog playpen can provide a safe area to give your dog a time out and help to stop this behaviour.
This is especially useful for younger dogs as they will gradually learn to associate their dog playpen as an area where they are expected to be calm and relaxed. Using this time out conditioning can train your dog to better behave around people and children and many pups appreciate the feeling of security a safe space like a playpen gives them.
Recovery After Injury
Indoor dog playpens, outdoor enclosures and other large protected areas are great for gradually rehabilitating your dog after an injury. Like humans, an injury in your dog should be gradually worked on to ensure that the affected area can repair itself properly.
Providing your dog with a safe enclosure, free from any obstacles that may cause harm, will allow you and your dog to appropriately work on the injury and enjoy the necessary exercise to help them toward a speedy recovery.
Is a Playpen Better Than a Crate?
Outdoor/indoor pet playpens and dog crates are handy tools for slightly different things.
A dog enclosure/indoor dog playpen can provide a safe area for your dog whilst you’re busy. The space should be large enough to house a dog bed, food, water and an area for your dog to move around freely.
An outdoor pet playpen, or indoor pet gate, is great for leaving your dog to their own devices for a few hours, but it will provide your dog with enough room to relieve themselves, which is why a dog crate is recommended for potty training.
Generally, a dog crate is a smaller space designated to allow your dog to relax, whilst a playpen will keep them secure in a larger environment during the day.
How to Choose a Dog Playpen-Features to Consider
Try to find a dog exercise pen, or pet playpen, that has enough weight to prevent your dog from escaping but is light enough to be easily moved and stored. More lightweight pens can be anchored with ground stakes if used outdoors but may not be suitable for indoor use.
How easy is it to put up?
When searching for a dog pen, look for a design that doesn’t require tools to assemble or break down. Just like portable dog fences, a good quality pen should be versatile enough to be used both indoors and outdoors, so you’ll likely be moving the pen a fair bit.
Can it be extended?
Pens that feature an interlocking design are usually the best option when it comes to dog pens.
As your dog grows, you’ll likely need to alter the shape and size of your dog pen; choosing a model that allows for extensions will ensure that you only ever need to buy one pen for the job!
Is it versatile?
We recommend buying a pen that’s as versatile as possible. Many dog pens will come with an attached floor mat removable panels and can be used as room dividers and pet gates.
Dog pens that can be manipulated into different shapes and sizes are always best!
Does it fold up for storage?
Most households won’t leave their dog pen up as a permanent installation; for this reason, we recommend purchasing a dog pen that can be easily folded flat, with spring-loaded clips, that can be stored away easily.
Does it have a roof or cover?
A roof or cover, especially one that can be easily detached, can be incredibly useful for your dog’s pen. It will provide them with an added sense of security, give them shade and protect them from the weather should you wish to set up an outside pen during light rain or wind.
What about a bottom?
It is handy for puppies and younger dogs as they toilet train, a pen with an attached floor mat will make for easy cleaning and help protect your carpets and floors from any accidents!
A soft bottomed pen in houses with hard flooring can provide your dog with a bit of added comfort and grip.
How tall are the sides?
Whelping boxes for puppies will need shorter sides to allow the mother to step in and out of the enclosure easily. Pens designed to house a bigger dog during the day will require higher sides to prevent them from escaping.
What Size Playpen Should you Choose?
We’ve spoken above about the height and weight of your new playpen but what size should you get? There’s no point getting a playpen designed for a Shih Tzu if you have a St Bernhard and vice versa.
Indoor pens are smaller than outdoor ones but there should still be enough room for your pet to lie down, turn around and be comfortable but you don’t want it so large that if you are potty training they can use an area to go to the toilet.
Most manufacturer’s have guidelines related to a dog breeds weight and size with around 18 inches recommended for toy and miniature breeds, to up to 6 feet for large breeds like Labs. Read reviews to see how dog owners with similar sized pooches get on.
Outside pens tend to be larger with some having sides that reach 6 foot in height, while this may seem plenty high enough dog’s that can jump and climb like Huskies may still be able to escape, so if you own a Houdini it may be wise to consider buying an enclosed pen with a top. This has the added bonus of providing shade from the sun.
Whatever size you choose remember if you have a puppy to take into account growing room, as you don’t want to be forking out large amounts to replace it as they get older.
How to Introduce your Dog to a Pet Playpen – Step by Step Guide
1- Potty break
Make sure that your dog has been to the toilet and won’t need to go again in the pen or be removed to use the bathroom. You ca leave the door open to begin with so they don’t feel trapped and encourage them in with a treat or two.
2- Give them a toy
Place your dog into the pen and give them a toy to hold their attention. A stuffed kong is great as it will focus their mind instead of them worrying about this new strange place they are in.
3- Leave them alone
Leave your dog to play for a few minutes and don’t make a big fuss about leaving them alone. The more you fuss, the less likely they will relax in their space alone.
4- Let them out
Calmly return after a few minutes and let them out of the pen. You want to teach them that humans coming and going is not such a big deal.
Continue to repeat steps 1-4, gradually increasing the time you leave them alone; this will teach your dog that being left in their pen is not such a big deal, and you’ll always come back to them eventually.
This short video shows how to set up a puppy space
How to Keep your Dog Safe in a Playpen
There are a few critical factors to ensuring that your dog is safe when left in its playpen.
Ensure your home is at an appropriate temperature and that your pen is away from any drafts or open windows.
In the summer, pop in a cooling mat and always make sure plenty of fresh water is available. If your pet playpen is outside make sure it isn’t in direct sunlight.
Make sure that the toys you leave with your dog are safe, not too small to choke on, and provide them with a good amount of mental stimulation. A bored dog is much more likely to try and escape from their pen.
If your pen is to be left outside for a time without supervision, make sure you have provided your dog with a cover to protect them from the sun or rainy conditions.
Is it anchored?
Make sure that your dog’s pen is suitably anchored or weighted to the ground and unable to be moved or knocked over by your dog; this is especially important for larger dogs.
If you’re puppy wears a collar it’s important to remove it before leaving them alone anywhere and that includes a pet playpen. Collars can get caught on all manner of things and become a serious strangulation risk.
How to Keep a Pet Playpen Clean
Most pens come with the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Metal ones simply need a regular hose down with water but it may be advisable to purchase a washable mat for indoor fabric and plastic ones to avoid stains if your pooch shouls have an accident.
How Long Can a Dog be Left in an Exercise Pen?
Puppies and newly introduced dogs shouldn’t spend more than an hour a day alone; the less time spent alone, the better, as they heavily rely on their owners to keep them happy and healthy.
Adolescent dogs between 5-18 months old can be gradually introduced to spending up to 4 hours alone at any one time during the day. You should introduce this possibility slowly, as covered in our step-by-step guide.
Mature dogs over 18-months old can spend up to 4 hours per day alone if they’ve been properly introduced to crate training and have readily available food, water and toys.
Some breeds are less susceptible to separation anxiety and will cause less of a fuss than others, but all dogs are social animals, so their time spent alone should be minimal.
Baby monitor style cameras are an excellent idea to keep an eye on your dog when left alone for any significant period. But, if you work long hours during the day, you should consider a doggy daycare or regular dog walker to ensure that your pup receives the attention they need.
Making your own Playpen for Pets
Pens for pets are not cheap, so if you are handy tools building you own might be an option.
Here at Dogsbarn we’re not the most capable DIYers but there are some fantastically creative ideas on DIY n Crafty
From upcycled cots and cabinets to impressive outdoor wooden enclosures for pets, even ones with a sliding door. Best of all you will have a unique design suited to your pets requirements.
If you are the creative type the options are endless and most are constructed with simple items available from your local hardware store.
Where To Buy Pet Playpens
Pet playpens can be bought online, in pet stores and some retailers including:
- The Range
You may also be able to pick up a second hand pet playpen on sites like eBay, local Facebook selling pages or Gumtree, which could save you some cash.
Is it cruel to keep a dog in a pen all day?
If your dog has been properly introduced to its pen, it can be left alone for up to 4 hours at a time. But, try to minimise the amount of time your dog spends alone regularly.
How do I keep my indoor dog pen from moving?
Placing your pen on a frictionless mat, or securing rubber feet to the bottom of the panels, should minimise any movement. Anchoring the pen to the floor or wall will completely remove the risk of movement but may damage your interiors.
How do I get my dog to stop whining in the playpen?
- Introduce them to the pen gradually.
- Create positive associations with the pen (toys, treats).
- Ensure they have access to food, water and toys.
- Check up on your dog if possible.
- Make sure they’re able to use the toilet.
- Make sure they have enough space.
Conclusion and Top Pick
Your dog is your best friend and they deserve to be pampered. Having a safe place for them to play gives you peace of mind knowing that any destructive tendencies are contained in one area, should you have to nip out.
There are many types of pens on the market depending on what type of materials you prefer, whether or not you want an easily foldable pen (pop up style), how big your home space is, etc. You could even build your own and there are some brilliant instruction guides online should you chose to do so.
Our top pick is the MidWest Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen. This versatile option has thousands of star reviews, with customers loving how well made it is and how easily it folds away when not in use.
It’s important to do your research when purchasing any product online. We hope this guide has given you an idea of what exercise pen would work best for you and your four-legged friend.