Benefits of Dog Play Pen
for Outdoor and Indoor Use

If you own a puppy or dog with a high energy level and a tendency to get into mischief, a dog play pen may be a great solution for you.

As the name implies, a play pen offers an optimal space for dogs to play safely. And just like a crate, it offers a great way to confine not only a young puppy but also an adult dog.

Also known as dog exercise pen, a play pen offers the same peace of mind as a play pen for children.

A vast array of play pens on the market today boast many appealing features and materials.

This article will help you learn how a dog play pen can allow your dog to feel part of your family while staying out of harm's way.

Dog Play Pen Types

Play pens are portable fences that allow puppies sufficient space to romp around. They can be used with equally good results regardless if placed in a living room or outdoor yard.

Most play pens offer sufficient space to accommodate a dog's food and water bowls, a few toys and a comfortable dog bed. Play pens come in a variety of materials, such as plastic, wire, wood and canvas.

Play pens designed for outdoor use are similar to a dog run, even though smaller, and are usually made of sturdy materials such as plastic or wire. Several offer the option to be covered to prevent the dog from escaping. Indoor play pens are generally in plastic or soft-sided which are easy to fold, transport and store.

Both indoor and outdoor dog pens often offer the option of joining panels together for the purpose of creating larger play areas.

Dog Play Pen

When to Use a Dog Exercise Pen

If you are a new puppy owner, a dog play pen may turn out being your best friend. Allowing a safe space for your pampered pooch to frolic, a play pen allows you to do chores around your home without worrying about finding half of your home destroyed by a teething puppy.

A dog play pen may also be a great management tool for those times you may need to separate your puppy or dog from guests, children or other pets.

One of the biggest advantages of play pens is that they can be used in a similar fashion as crates. However, since they offer more space and freedom, play pens may be a great alternative for dogs who are not particularly fond of crates. Outdoor dog play pens may also be quite useful for dog owners who own yards lacking a fenced section.

Play Pen vs Crate

As mentioned, play pens may be used as effective substitutes for crates when dogs display a dislike for them. However, there are pros and cons to consider when using a dog play pen instead of a crate.

Because play pens are larger than crates, they are not appropriate for crate training, which is based on a dog's instinct to not want to soil in the same area where he eats and sleeps. However, if your puppy is too young to be housebroken or if you are planning to house train your puppy using puppy pads, a dog play pen may be a good place to keep your puppy along with some puppy pads.

Here are some other things to consider:

  1. A dog play pen made of the wrong material may be destined to destruction if the puppy or dog likes to chew.
  2. Depending on your dog's size, many play pens can be climbed over; something that would be unlikely to happen with a crate.
  3. If your dog is a climber, you may need to purchase a play pen cover.

Tips for Using Indoor Play Pens

Indoor play pens are a great choice for when you are running errands around the home and don't want your puppy or dog underfoot.

If your puppy or dog tends to romp a lot moving the play pen around, you can try to place some heavy objects around its exterior perimeter so to help keep it in place.

Because play pens do not usually have a floor, accidents may easily seep into your carpet. You may, therefore, want to place some form of absorbent padding in the dog pen to prevent this from happening.


Despite their name, exercise pens are not meant to be used as a substitute for walks, play time with your dog and exercise.

Tips for Using Outdoor Play Pens

Outdoor play pens are a great solution for when you want to work in the yard without worrying about your dog digging or getting into trouble.

When using an outdoor play pen, puppies or dogs should never be left in direct sunlight because of the risk of overheating. Fresh water should always be available and the puppy should have a shaded area. Dry food may be preferable to canned as the latter tends to dry out quickly and spoil. However, expect critters to show up if your puppy does not eat its kibble right away.

Because most expandable play pens lack bottoms, you may need to securely fasten your play pen to the ground to prevent it from moving or sliding should your dog move a lot or jump.

Final Thoughts...

While a dog exercise pen is not to be used as a substitute for exercise and regular activities, it can ultimately work great for keeping your puppy or dog happily entertained. Best of all, a dog play pen encourages good habits while decreasing the occurrence of bad habits; a great way to set your puppy or dog up for success!

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Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

If you are a new dog owner and want to learn more about dog behavior and obedience training, I highly recommend you read and follow this Secrets to Dog Training guide. It's written by a professional dog trainer and is full of techniques you can use to modify your dog's behavior.


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