A dog playpen is a practical solution when you can’t give your pup free rein in your home or yard. For travel, for times away from the house, or for Houdini dogs who you can’t let out of your sight for a second, a playpen can save you and your pup a lot of trouble. In fact, it might even save your dog’s life by preventing them from getting into things they shouldn’t eat or getting into dangerous situations, such as running across the road.
Our vet advisor, Dr. Jamie Whittenburg, looked at all types of dog playpens to determine which is the best option for your pup, looking at factors like durability, portability, and escapability. She chose the BestPet Extra Large Indoor Outdoor Dog Fence Playpen for its durability and versatility. This playpen is a universal choice whether you’re using it inside or out and no matter what breed. Read how she chose the top 5.
If you’re looking for a more compact, temporary option, then don’t forget about crates – just make sure they’re the right size for your dog.
Our Vet’s Top 5 Dog Playpens
Here are the top picks from our vet. Compare the ratings and features of different models to find the right one for you.
|Editor’s Picks||Brand||Rating||Max Size||Material||Water or Rust Resistant|
|Best Overall||BestPet Extra Large Indoor Outdoor Dog Fence Playpen||512″W x 40″H||Metal|
|Best Budget||Amazon Basics Foldable Metal Pet Dog Exercise Fence Pen||192″W x 48″H||Metal|
|Best Outdoor||ChickenCoopOutlet Backyard Dog Kennel||20’L x 10’W x 6’H||Chain Link|
|Best Portable||Ruff ‘n Ruffus Portable Foldable Pet Playpen||48″W x48″H x 23.5″H||Nylon Fabric|
|Best for Exercise||FXW Dog Fence Outdoor Pen||182 sq ft; 48″H||Metal|
*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers
In This Article
Who Should Buy Dog Playpens
- Escape artist parents – It might be time to consider a dog playpen when your dog manages to escape despite your best efforts to contain them. Even if you have a room that your dog is safe in, putting a spacious playpen in the room may keep them from scratching up, chewing, or otherwise destroying your door.
- Working families – If you have long chunks of time away from your dog, you want to make those times as stress-free as possible. Not only will a stressed dog act out, but you don’t want your fur baby more anxious than they need to be – especially when a puppy is transitioning to longer times away from you. A dog playpen will keep your pup out of endless amounts of trouble.
- Isolationists – If you have multiple dogs, you might be dealing with a few challenges. From fights to mating to just about everything in between, there are several reasons why separating your dogs is necessary. A playpen can help to keep a dog in heat away from the other dogs in the home, and it’s also useful for isolating a sick pup from the others to avoid spreading illness.
Who Should Not Buy Dog Playpens
- Old dogs, new tricks – If you have an older dog who’s no longer prone to puppy habits, you may not need a playpen. If your dog can have free rein of the house and it’s a non-issue, then why bother confining him? There’s not a lot to gain by restricting a dog’s movement when it’s not necessary.
- Safe spaces – When your home – or a segregated area of your home – is dog-proof, then you don’t need to confine him to a playpen. If your dog has a room that they can be confined to that has all they need (food, water, bed, etc.) and causes no potential risk, you probably don’t need a dog playpen. However, keep in mind that there may be travel or infrequent situations when a playpen can still be useful.
Research Tips (From a Veterinarian)
The ideal dog playpen for your dog gives your pup enough space while still fitting in the area where you want to confine them. It should also be durable enough to withstand chewing and other wear and tear. Here’s what to consider when choosing a dog playpen:
- In or out? First, it’s important to decide what you’ll be using the playpen for, whether it will be used outdoors or inside, and how large it needs to be to accommodate your pets comfortably.
- Portability – Another feature to consider is the ease of setup and transport if you often need to move the playpen. Whether you plan to take it when you travel or just move from one room to another, it’s worth looking for portable options.
- Durable materials – Also, it’s essential to consider the material that the playpen is made from. Heavy-duty metal (steel) kennels will last longer. You may prefer the models that are coated for protection from rust. If you have a strong dog or an escape artist, it’s essential to consider the strength of the bars. Some dogs can easily escape playpens made of flimsy or small gauge wire. Inspect the panels to make sure there are no sharp points or edges.
- Your dog as an individual – Your needs may vary based on the intended use and the size and personality of your dog. Locking mechanisms on the doors are a good idea to prevent escape, so I suggest avoiding doors without them.
- Don’t be afraid to ask around – It’s also a good idea to ask friends, neighbors, and your veterinarian for recommendations. In these conversations, you can ask the questions you really want to know, like “Can it fit through my kitchen door?”
- See it in action, if you can – If possible, it’s best actually to see the playpen prior to your purchase. This will enable you to inspect the construction and ensure the pen is suitable for your needs.
How Much Do They Cost?
Most of the cost differential between playpens is down to the size and durability. If you’re getting the escape-proof playpen that a large dog can’t chew through or jump over, you’ll be spending far more than if you want a portable playpen for your toy breed. You’ll spend even more if you want it to be a permanent fixture in your yard; these types of dog playpens can run you over $500, while the bulk of others will be between $50 and $200.
Our Methodology: Why Trust Pets Digest
As a veterinarian, I’ve seen a lot of problems with dogs getting into trouble and can testify that a good playpen will help with several of those troublemaker problems. After treating injuries that occur when a dog is trying to escape or when they’ve gotten into something they shouldn’t have when the owner was away, I’m confident saying the right playpen can even keep your pet safe. Not to mention, it can keep your belongings safe, as well. – Dr. Jamie Whittenburg
The Best Dog Playpens: Full Reviews
The BestPet Extra Large Indoor Outdoor Dog Fence Playpen is well-built and spacious enough to allow dogs to play safely while still being contained. Dogs who jump are not good candidates for this type of structure as they may easily escape. It’s a great choice because it can be configured in different shapes, comes in various sizes, and can be connected to another playpen to increase the space.
Assembly is simple, and the playpen comes with assembly instructions that will enable you to construct the structure in a matter of minutes. This playpen is well-built and sturdy. The coating should guard against rust, and it’s portable for the needs of campers or travelers.
- All metal construction
- 6 size options
- Easy assembly
- Some rust issues over time
- No nonskid pads on bottom; may damage floors
The Amazon Basics Foldable Metal Pet Dog Exercise Fence Pen is versatile and can be used indoors or outside. Lightweight and easily moved, this playpen is most appropriate for small dogs. There are no tools required for set-up, and the panels fold down flat for easy storage between uses.
The pen is made of durable iron metal with a rust-proof black finish to last for years of use. The playpen has a step-through door that is equipped with two secure-locking slide-bolt latches. There are also eight ground anchors included for outdoor use.
- Easy assembly
- With or without door options
- 6 size choices
- Door locks stick occasionally
- Wire bars will not restrain a determined large breed
You’ll like the ChickenCoopOutlet Backyard Dog Kennel playpen for outdoor use. It allows dogs room to play and provides a shaded area for protection from the elements. This enclosure is large, measuring 20’L x 10’W x 6’H, and is only suited for outdoor use. This enclosure is big enough for multiple dogs; however, it may not be ideal for very strong dogs or escape artists as the chain link is not heavy duty.
This playpen uses a quick-connect system that allows for easy assembly. The cover over the kennel portion is UV resistant and will protect your dog from rain and sun without cracking or splitting.
- 6ft tall to prevent escape
- Durable chain-link construction
- 200 sq ft area within
- Difficult assembly
- May require additional latching for more determined escape artist dogs
There is no assembly required for the easily portable Ruff ‘n Ruffus Portable Foldable Pet Playpen. It also comes with a carrying case which increases the ease of transporting it. The playpen is available in three sizes: Medium (29x29x17 inches), Large (36x36x23 inches), and Extra Large (48x48x23.5 inches).
This playpen is a nice way to give your dog more room than a crate, but it’s not ideal for vigorous exercise. It can easily be used for traveling and camping. The playpen is made from durable water-resistant materials and comes with a removable zippered top that can be used to provide shade.
- 3 size options available
- Includes portable water dish and carrying bag
- Folds flat and pops up in seconds
- Not for escape artist dogs
- Smart dogs can turn it on its side to run while still in it
With the FXW Dog Fence Outdoor Pen, you’ll get 48 panels that provide 729 square feet of exercise space, making it a great choice for enclosing large areas and allowing dogs to exercise vigorously. This outside dog enclosure features a powder coating that will help protect against rust and extend its life. The steel wire of this dog fence is smooth and solid, so no need to worry that your dog will be able to chew the panels and escape.
The pen’s panels can be put together using the supplied poles in just a few minutes in multiple combinations, shapes, and configurations. The fence folds flat for easy storage and transportation, which makes this an ideal choice for a large exercise pen.
- Size customizable from 24″H to 50″H
- Choose from 8, 16, 22, 24, 32, or 48 panels
- Includes metal stakes for added stability
- Some rust issues when kept outdoor for long periods
- Small dogs may get muzzles stuck between bars
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a dog live in a playpen?
It’s worth noting that even the USDA approves of penning dogs, provided the pen is large enough.2(They’re only concerned that the dog can stand up, turn around, sit upright and lie down, though, so that’s not a limiting factor for most playpens.)3
Is a crate or playpen better for a puppy?
Where should a puppy sleep at night?
How big does a dog pen need to be?
This answer depends entirely on your circumstances. You’ll have to decide on the size based on your dog’s breed and how you plan to use your playpen. If you plan to just keep them safe and secure for short bursts while you’re away, it won’t need to be too big. After all, consider how many dogs are kept in a kennel while their owner is out. For dogs who love to snuggle in, like dachshunds, as long as they can burrow into the blanket and stretch out, they’re probably going to be fine. For active dogs who need some space to play, you’ll want to give them a larger area. You can certainly find oversized playpens for dogs, but the reality is you’ll need to cater the pen to the area you put it in. Most pens will be large enough for your dog to walk around in some and even play a bit. That means you’ll want at least a couple hundred square feet of room within the pen. They should still get the bulk of their energy spent in play with you, though, so don’t think the space you give them relieves you of your responsibility to interact with your dog.
Pets Digest uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- Hubrecht RC, Serpell JA, & Poole TB. Correlates of pen size and housing conditions on the behaviour of kennelled dogs. Appl Anim Behav Sci. 1992:34(4); 365-383. doi:10.1016/S0168-1591(05)80096-6.
- Yeon SC, Golden G, Sung W, Erb HN, Reynolds AJ, & Houpt KA. A Comparison of Tethering and Pen Confinement of Dogs. 2010;257-270. doi:10.1207/S15327604JAWS0404_03
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. Inspecting the Kennel – Kennel Size. USDA. Updated June 2, 2020. Accessed April 4, 2022.