Your Trusted Source for Pet News and Product Reviews
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Puppy Play Pens – Everything You Need to Know

Buyer's Guide Dog Crates Exercise Pens Playpen

puppy play pen

When it comes to caring for your dog, many owners will use a crate. This is the perfect way to give them their own personal space in the house and it allows them to travel with you when you go away.

Pet crates do have a lot of benefits, there’s no doubt about that. However, some owners may feel that pet crates aren’t the direction they want to take, especially when they have puppies on the scene.

Sometimes, puppies and pet crates don’t mix and you may need a puppy play pen, which provides a range of other benefits and differences to that of a pet crate.

There are a variety of reasons you may want to use a pet play pen over a pet crate with one of the main ones being that the pup will have much more space to move around and exercise.

They are also great if you have a litter of puppies and need to set up an area to fence them off whilst still giving them space to move around.

This article will look into what play pens are and how you can use them. They are commonly used around the country and you need to make some considerations as to whether you need a crate or a pen for your dog(s).

If you’re interested in learning more about these portable dog play pens, continue to read on.

What is a Puppy Play Pen?

In the simplest way possible, a puppy pen is almost identical to a children’s play pen. It is an area that is fenced off that allows your new puppy to move around and exercise.

It is for this reason why they are also called puppy exercise pens. The pen is set up as a means for the puppy to be watched while they exercise and move around. It is essentially like putting your puppy in a playground and supervising as they play.

In most cases, a puppy exercise pen will be used for excitable puppies with high energy levels. This will be a factor that you need to consider when choosing between a crate and a pen.

In addition, as well as puppies and small dogs, you can also use pens for full-sized adult dogs but, depending on their size, you may need a water resistant pen cover.

Different Types of Play Pen

As with crates, pet exercise pens come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. In the modern world, exercise pens now come with an array of special features and gimmicks that make them more appealing to buyers.

Most dog play pens will have areas for water, food, and toys. Some may even have a place for the puppy to rest, like a bed. As with crates, pens also come in different heavy duty materials, such as plastic, wood, metal wire, and canvas.

The heavy duty material a play pen is made out of will actually depend on the use. In most cases, there is a distinction made between indoor and outdoor pens. With outdoor pens, you are more likely to find plastic or wire, as these can withstand weather and general wear and tear. Many outdoor-use pens are also classified as play yards.

With indoor-use pens, you are more likely to see wooden and soft-sided pet products. If you have a lot of puppies you need to contain, brands normally allow you to combine different segments together to form bigger exercise pens, saving the hassle and money of buying an entirely new one.  

What is the Difference between a Crate and a Play Pen?

Although both have fairly similar purposes, they are very different at the same time. When you are considering getting a pen over a crate, you do need to consider multiple factors because they may make your life easier or harder.

Toilet Training

For starters, crates make toilet training/housebreaking very easy and can cut the learning curve in half. This is because crates act like a den and dogs will not soil themselves where they sleep.

With dog pens, however, puppies will have enough room where they feel they can soil. They will not associate the dog exercise pen as a den because it’s too open, making toilet training difficult.

Larger Dogs

Crates might be better for bigger dogs, as many will be able to jump the guards of a pen and roam freely. A crate provides a safer option if you don’t want your dog escaping into the house.

Saying this, it will depend on the size of your pet exercise pen as some brands have developed larger walls to stop this from happening. Also, you can purchase covers to prevent any great escapes.

Chewable Materials

Finally, exercise pens might act as the perfect chew toy for some puppies. If you have very excitable puppies who love to chew everything, a dog play pen might be a bad option.

Puppies can burn through anything and crates offer a little more security. However, as with crates, it will depend on the material you invest in, as wood tends to be chewed more often.

Midwest Homes for Pets has a good in between option and offers free shipping. The Midwest exercise pen is shaped like a heavy duty crate but designed with the portable playpen concept.  

When Should You Use a Play Pen?

So as you may have noticed above, there are more benefits to using a crate opposed to a dog play pen. However, there has to be a reason why they exist?

They’d be no point to them if they didn’t serve a purpose. Well, actually, pet pens do have a purpose which is they act as a substitute for pet crates.

Obviously, some dogs are not going to like crates not matter how hard you try to train them. When this happens, you may have to switch to a pet play pen.

For puppy training and care in general, having a play pen allows you to let the dog out to play and exercise whilst protecting your home in the process.

The last thing you want is a teething puppy shredding your furniture.


A puppy play pen is a fantastic alternative to a pet crate if you need some extra space. They are essentially pet crates but they allow your dog to explore and move around without having them wreck your house.

They have a number of benefits, including the ability to keep your dog active while they grow.

Although it is more difficult to toilet train with pet play pens and that they’re less secure, they are still a worthwhile investment.

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