One of the biggest challenges as a dog owner is where your dog spends his time when you are away. Dog playpens are a popular option because they are safe, easy to set up, and can be conveniently folded down for storage or travel.
The type of playpen you need will depend on the intended use for you and your dog.
You will need to consider where the playpen will be set up, what shape(s) it should be arranged in, how big the pen needs to be, and how difficult it would be to move the pen as needed.
Written by Laryn Carter.
Laryn is a Clemson University alumna, with undergraduate studies focused on Animal and Veterinary Sciences.
As a life long animal lover raised on a family hobby farm, she has special interest in both pets and farm animals.
She enjoys combining her passion for animals with her interest in writing to create well-written, educational content. In her free time, Laryn likes to read, travel, and spend time with her friends and family (animals included!)
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What are dog playpens for?
Dog playpens, like crates, are primarily intended to safely contain your dog.
They are typically larger than crates, however, to provide your pup more space to move around and even play.
Most playpens are made up of connecting panels that can be assembled and arranged for use and then folded up for easy storage and travel.
Many people find playpens advantageous not only in their daily life but especially during travel or unusual circumstances.
Puppies, who are prone to getting into trouble when not closely monitored, can benefit greatly from spending time in a playpen.
Another example is a dog who cannot be trusted outside unleashed but can enjoy the fresh air and nice weather with its owner thanks to a playpen.
Although I have never used a playpen for my dog, I’ve seen my family members have great success with the outdoor pens they’ve used for their dogs.
Top 3 Overall Best Playpens
Best Outdoor Playpen
This BestPet playpen is a classic option with all the bells and whistles including the varying configurations, easy assembly, and convenient collapse for easy storage.
Additionally, the pen is built to last thanks to its heavy-duty metal construction, rust-resistant coating, and double lock design.
Best Indoor Playpen
Specially designed for the indoors, this playpen by Unipaws is constructed from wood and metal, with four support feet on the bottom, and an attractive, arched-top locking gate.
The pen can be arranged in a Z shape, U shape, or even a straight divider thanks to the 360° rotating hinges, and can even be easily stored.
Best Portable Playpen
This small playpen is made to be soft to the touch, safe for your pet, and lightweight for storage and travel.
The pen folds flat to fit into its carrying case, is highly portable, and has easy access through the front zipper, overall making the pen ideal for either inside or outside use.
Best indoor playpens for dogs
Unipaws 6 Panel Extra Wide Freestanding Walk-Through Playpen
The Unipaws freestanding playpen is built with six wood and metal panels.
With hinges designed to rotate 360 degrees, this playpen can easily be arranged as a hexagon, Z or U shape, stretched out as a divider, or capable of being extended with additional panels.
Traditional wood and metal enclosure bars keep the playpen heavy enough to be stable while four wooden support feet help hold it upright.
MidWest Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen
This exercise and playpen has a classic structure with 8 metal panels which are available in five different heights.
The pen is easily assembled, no tools required, and ultimately provides 16 square feet of enclosed area.
A durable e-coat finish, eight ground anchors, and four thumb snaps help make the pen sturdy and secure.
This playpen is the most similar to what my family members have used for their dog.
It has a classic design and it is very easy set-up. Besides that it is available in different heights.
Additionally, I feel that the rating and number of reviews prove that customers are happy with this playpen.
MidWest Homes For Pets Puppy Playpen with Floor Grid
This MidWest Homes metal playpen is more structurally akin to a dog crate.
This crate can not only create a safe space for your pet but also fold flat for easy transportation and storage when not in use.
With a satin black, electro-coat finish, door openings on the top and sides, and slide-bolt latches, this pen is convenient for cleaning, access, and security.
FXW Dog Playpen for Large/Medium/Small Dogs
This FXW playpen is are available in 3 different sized panel options.
The pen folds flat when not in use, can be arranged in a variety of shapes, is easily combined with another pen, and is secured in place with metal stakes built into the pen.
The anti-rust powder coating and metal stakes with rounded tops allow the pen to be both durable for years to come and safe for your dog.
Best outdoor playpens for dogs
Cool Runners Pro Series Secure Aluminum Playpen
This aluminum playpen has six sections that are designed to fold up and velcro securely for easy travel and storage.
The expandable design allows for multiple pens to be interconnected, and the panels can be arranged in a hexagonal, rectangular, or linear shape.
The high-quality lightweight aluminum is easy-to-clean, prevents rust, and has a sturdy handle.
Giantex Foldable Freestanding Metal Playpen with Door
This playpen consists of eight metal, weatherproof panels.
Flexible connections make it easy to attach additional panels to the playpen and allow the panels to be arranged in a square, rectangle, octagon, L-shape, or stretched out to use as a divider.
Designed to be heavy-duty and durable, the playpen is made with steel pipes, a double lock on the door, and metal ground stakes.
BMS Extra Large Playpen/ Exercise Pen
This heavy-duy playpen has eight sections which are made from high-quality iron.
The playpen is designed to have a simple, tool-free setup, break-down, or connection to another playpen.
The panels can be arranged in a variety of shapes including an octagon, square, or rectangle.
In addition to being solid and rust-resistant, this playpen is made with rounded edges and a double locking mechanism on its door, all of which improve safety and durability.
BestPet Folding Metal Playpen/ Dog Kennel
This dual playpen and portable dog kennel is made with eight panels, like most best-selling playpens.
The playpen’s design allows for the configuration of rectangles, squares, and octagons, as well as simple assembly and addition of extra panels and convenient folding down for storage.
With sturdy metal, a rust-resistant coating, and a well-designed locking mechanism, this playpen is sure to last.
Best portable playpens for dogs
Zampa Portable Foldable Pet Playpen Exercise Pen Kennel + Carrying Case
There is no assembly required for this playpen, as it pops up in seconds to create a spacious interior, and then folds flat for storage and travel.
The pen is made with reinforced corners and seams, a water bottle holder, and exterior side pockets, and has a carrying case and 4 metal spikes for outdoor use.
Parkland Pet Portable Foldable Playpen
It only takes seconds to set up the playpen, with no tools or assembly needed, and it folds flat for easy travel and storage.
Lightweight, yet sturdy, the parkland playpen is an easy way to secure your pet both indoors and outdoors, and the zippered top and front door make access in and out easy too.
PETMAKER Pop-up Pet Playpen with Carrying Case
The pen quickly pops up to create a soft, safe, portable crate for your pet, and then easily folds back down into its carrying case for storage and travel.
Built to be soft and secure, this pop-up pen can be used inside or outside, and even has a removable roof to provide shade or sunlight as preferred.
Frequently Asked Questions about Dog Playpens
Is it safe to use a playpen for your dog?
Playpens are a safe place your dog can relax for a few hours at a time. Just like with a crate, you should first help your dog become comfortable in the playpen before leaving them for extended periods.
You can start by simply spending around the playpen and encouraging your dog to go in and out by themself before placing your dog in their playpen for slowly increasing amounts of time.
In time, your dog will know the pen as a happy and safe place.
Aside from helping your dog get comfortable spending time in their playpen, you should also ensure there are no hazards on or inside the pen.
Most playpens are designed with very few small, loose, or otherwise dangerous pieces, but it’s always a good idea just to look it over and remove any items you think could be problematic.
The same goes for any bowls, blankets, or toys your pup could ingest, choke on, or become caught on.
These steps will help ensure that their playpen is a safe, and comfortable place for your dog.
When should you use a playpen versus a crate?
These two tools have both similarities and differences, so it can be confusing on which one is best for you and why. In the case of playpen versus crate, I believe the preference comes down to a couple of different factors, all of which are related to size.
Playpens are popular because they serve the same function as a crate, but with a lot more space.
If you want your dog to be able to move around comfortably and even have space to play, you should use a playpen…
…rather than a crate where they are essentially forced to lay down the entire time.
Crate is preferable for puppies
A related factor is the age (and housetraining) of your pup. If you have a young puppy, excess space is advised against.
Since it can encourage them to potty in the wrong places and set back their housetraining.
In this scenario, it is preferable to use a crate until the puppy is fully potty-trained.
The last scenario has to do with the size of your dog and therefore, how much space they need.
Both crates and playpens come in a variety of sizes such as small, medium, and large, but a common issue with playpens is getting them tall enough.
Many playpens are standardly sized between two and three feet tall, which may not be tall enough for a giant-sized breed or escape artist.
Dog gates are taller, if you need more height.
The preference, in this case, may simply fall on whether a crate or playpen contains your dog the best.