Choosing The Best Puppy Playpen (Crates Don’t Always Cut It)

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Dog in playpen outside (caption: Best Puppy Playpen)Do you find yourself crating your puppy too much during the day? As puppy owners, we’ve all been there. You’re in and out of the house running errands or trying to make meals and clean the house. You can’t leave your pup totally unattended—oh, the trouble they can cause! But too much time cooped up in a crate isn’t ideal for dogs of any age. They need time to play with their toys and move around. Puppy playpens are an excellent alternative to over-crating.

Article Overview

Why Do I Need A Puppy Playpen?

In many cases, crates aren’t enough. But first, keep in mind, a puppy playpen isn’t a replacement for the outdoor exercise your puppy needs on a daily basis. (An outdoor dog pen won’t cut it.) Although puppies don’t require nearly the exercise that adult dogs do, they still need to walk every day.

The U.K. Kennel Club recommends five minutes per your puppy’s month of age (no more than twice daily). So, if your puppy is two months old, he should get 10 minutes, at three months old, he should get 15 minutes, and so on until he’s fully grown.

But a puppy exercise pen still helps your pup’s developing muscles and joints become stronger—much more so than lying around in a crate all day. A pen also encourages your pup to develop independence and confidence. It’s important for him to learn that he doesn’t need to be attached at your hip 24/7. Puppy pens give you and your dog peace of mind.

Yorkie coming through white gate in the house (capton: Best Dog Gates)What About Closing Off An Existing Space?

If you have an area in your home that’s safe for your dog to spend limited time in alone and can be closed off with one simple added boundary, you might want to consider a dog gate or a freestanding gate to close off a larger opening.

Sadly, it can be difficult to find spaces that are easy to close off, not needed regularly by the humans, and is safe enough to leave your dog unattended for short periods. In these cases, you should consider one of our recommended playpens.

What’s The Best Puppy Playpen?

There are an overwhelming number of excellent dog pens on the market. We’ve done our research and broken down our top choices by category to help you find the best puppy playpen for your home and pet.

Premium | Indoor (Small to Medium) | Indoor (Large) | Outdoor | Portable

Best Premium Dog Pen: Richell Convertible Pet Playpen Review

Richell Convertible Pet PlaypenView on Amazon

Richell’s Convertible Pet Playpen is the “top dog” of puppy playpens. It’s the most attractive and stylish of the pack, and the sturdiest dog pen we’ve reviewed. This playpen is made of thick, durable plastic and is great for indoor and outdoor use. It’s also one of the most versatile, easily converting to a room divider or freestanding pet gate.

Richell also offers a couple of nice add-ons—a floor tray and a pet comfort mat that you can also use as a roof. The potential drawback for some owners? The best dog playpen has a pretty hefty price tag. But if your budget allows, we think it’s the best pet exercise pen on the market, paws down.



  • Simple to set up and break down
  • Sturdiest model we’ve seen
  • Large, lockable door
  • Add-on mat doubles as a roof
  • Folds up flat for easy storage
  • Good height at 36″
  • Heavier than other pens, so not as easily portable
  • Expensive


Best Indoor Dog Pen (Small to Medium): Iris Plastic Pet Playpen Review

Iris Plastic Pet PlaypenView on Amazon

If you have a small- to medium-sized breed, the Iris is an excellent choice, especially if you don’t have a lot of space in your home. It’s a compact and attractive alternative to wire playpens, which is why it’s a great small puppy playpen.

Don’t let the plastic fool you—this is a sturdy pet pen with double steel door latches. And you can use it indoors or outside. You can even go crazy with some of their color choices. This is an excellent playpen for puppies to keep them from chewing on things they shouldn’t be chewing on.



  • Easy assembly
  • Heavy duty plastic
  • Sturdy dog door
  • Can purchase add-on panels
  • Folds up flat for easy transport
  • May be too short for climbers/jumpers (but you can buy a roof add-on)
  • No playpen height choices (the only option is 24″H)


If your dog is not yet housebroken, you could also get a potty training floor tray and pee pads (these would work in most of the recommended enclosures reviewed here).

Best Indoor Dog Pen (Large): Midwest Exercise Pen Review

Midwest Exercise PenView on Amazon

The Midwest exercise pen is a good choice for larger breed puppies who need a little more room to move around. It consists of eight 24″ wide panels with a black E-coat finish for protection against the elements (you can use it in or outdoors).

The Midwest includes corner stabilizers for indoor use and ground stakes for outdoors. We love that it’s available in 5 different heights and that you can purchase an add-on sunscreen or wire mesh top for shade or security when outside.



  • Simple set up
  • Five different height choices
  • Double latch dog door
  • One-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Easy to transport or fold down for storage
  • Can’t purchase single add-on panels
  • May not be sturdy enough for full-grown dogs


Best Outdoor Dog Pen: BestPet Pet Playpen Review

Oxgord Heavy Duty Yard PlaypenView on Amazon

The BestPet Pet Playpen is a large, extremely sturdy area for your puppy to stay secure and have fun while outdoors. It comes with multiple panels and a double-latch door, and you can configure this playpen in different shapes. This outdoor playpen consists of heavy-duty steel with a rust-resistant coating, but it’s easy to assemble (no tools required).

It folds down easily for storage, but some of the panels are 30 inches wide so that portability may be an issue. You also get ground anchors for extreme durability. It’s 73 inches in diameter when assembled as an octagon.



  • Easy to assemble
  • Extremely sturdy and durable
  • Three different height options
  • Sturdy double-latch door
  • Folds down easily for storage
  • Can’t purchase additional panels
  • Some panels are wider than average so transport may be difficult


Best Portable Dog Pen: Zampa Foldable Portable Pet Playpen Review

Zampa Foldable Portable Pet PlaypenView on Amazon

Do you travel a lot with your puppy? If so, the Zampa portable playpen for dogs is a must-have. This playpen is easy to set up and fold down and comes with a handy carrying case. Although not as sturdy as steel pens, the Zampa is pretty durable and has an attached floor mat and reinforced corners and seams to keep your puppy put. It’s even water-resistant so you can take it outdoors.

The largest size measures 30″ high and 61″ in diameter, so it may not be best for large breeds or older puppies once they grow bigger. But the portability is a breeze. Learn more about traveling with your pets.



  • No assembly required
  • Folds down easily for transport
  • Comes with carry bag
  • Zippered dog door
  • One-year money back guarantee
  • Comes in 4 colors: blue, brown, pink and red
  • May be too small/short for larger breeds
  • Not as sturdy as metal playpens


What If My Puppy Is An Escape Artist?

And then there are those pups who are just too crafty for some types of playpens (see the video below). If you already know your puppy is prone to mischief, make sure you find the best escape-proof playpen you can.

Outdoor Puppy Playpen, Wireless Fence, Or Standard Fence?

If you’re deciding between an outdoor puppy playpen or a wireless fence, you may want to consider reading this article about wireless dog fences.

A standard fence is the safest option, but it comes at a higher price tag than the other two options and you’ll need to make sure that your neighborhood or landlord allow it.

Wireless dog fences give your dog more exercise space (find out how much exercise your dog needs), cost less than most fencing, and they don’t take up space in your yard. Maximize your puppy play yard with the gear that fits you and your dog’s needs while also considering your budget.

Which puppy playpen would you recommend?

The information contained in this article and website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional safety advice; it is provided for educational purposes only.

About The Author:

Sally holds a BA in English from James Madison University and began her 25-year writing career as a grad student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism & Mass Communications. She’s been a pet parent since college years (and spent her whole childhood with pets). Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

Now as a parent of two teenagers, she’s made sure to raise her daughters to learn how to love and care for pets (and other animals) in the most responsible and loving ways. As a result, she and her daughters now have 5 rescued dogs and cats who essentially rule their home! Sally has also volunteered over the years to help raise funds for various animal nonprofit organizations.

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