Top 5 Best Dog Playpen Reviews – Updated for 2017

Update - 2016.11.23
After countless hours of testing and reviewing, we have determined that the best dog playpen is the Midwest Exercise Pen!

There’s a reason we call dogs man’s best friend. They’re loyal companions, and they offer us unconditional love. In return, it’s our job to give them what they need to live happy and fulfilling lives: food, shelter, exercise, love – and safety. For many dog owners, the safety aspect includes picking the right dog playpen to help train and protect their dogs.

Whether you’re training a new puppy or just want to keep your dog contained to one area of your house or yard, picking the right dog pen can be a challenge. There are lots of options out there, and it can be hard to figure out the differences between them. You want to protect your dog first and foremost, but cost, appearance, and portability may also be a concern for you. Check out this chart that illustrates some of the key features dog owners look for in a dog playpen:

Top 5 Best Dog Playpens for 2017

Product
Quality
Strength
Price
Overall
Rating
Review
#1 MidWest Exercise Pen
Very High
High
Check Price
99%
Review
#2 SmithBuilt Premium 8-Panel Dog Exercise Play Pen
Very High
High
Check Price
98%
Review
#3 BestPet Heavy Duty Pet Playpen
High
Very High
Check Price
98%
Review
#4 Oxgord Dog Animal Heavy Duty Playpen
High
High
Check Price
97%
Review
#5 IRIS Indoor/Outdoor Plastic Pet Pen
High
Medium
Check Price
95%
Review

 

What to Look for in a Dog Pen:

You know your dog better than anybody else does. You’re ready to buy a new puppy playpen, and we’ve reviewed all the top options for you so you can make an informed decision. It’s important to ask yourself a few questions about your dog – and yourself – before you start comparing your options.  Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • The size of your dog – Large dogs will require a big area to be comfortable, and you will also need to think about the height of the playpen walls if you want to keep your dog contained.
  • Where you will use the dog playpen – Are you using it inside or outside? Will you have to move it frequently, or can it stay in one place most of the time? The materials a dog pen is made of can have a huge impact on how it looks and how easy it is to transport.
  • The disposition of your dog – Is your dog likely to panic or be uncomfortable if left in a small pen for a long amount of time? Even small dogs may benefit from a large dog enclosure in some situations.
  • Your budget – How much money are you comfortable spending? There are puppy pens at a wide range of prices.
  • Your dog’s escape abilities – Some dogs are natural escape artists, and you’ll want to keep that in mind. Pens have open tops, and if your dog is a jumper you may want to go another route.

It might be helpful to make a list of the particular features you think are most important before moving on to the next section, which will help you compare the top five dog pens and make a decision.

When You’re Ready to Buy Your Dog Play Pen:

Now that you’ve thought about what you and your dog need in your new dog play pen, it’s time to share our top five dog pen picks for 2017. This page will give you an overview, and when you’re ready to make a decision, you can just click the “Buy Now” button over on the right of the dog pen you choose.

#1 – Best Pet Playpen – Midwest Exercise Pen Review

Our #1 choice is this versatile and affordable dog playpen. What makes it so special? To start, you can order it in five different sizes to accommodate your dog’s needs. It’s also very lightweight, weighing in at about ten pounds.

Unlike our other picks, this puppy playpen has a rust-proof coating, making it suitable for indoor or outdoor use. It’s got a sleek black look that makes it inconspicuous enough for indoor use. Given its versatility, this playpen for dogs has a very affordable price. It offers the perfect marriage between a heavy-duty dog pen and a lightweight dog kennel. This is why it’s our top choice!

MidWest Exercise Pen - Dog pen

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#2 – Best Puppy Playpen – Smithbuilt Premium 8-Panel Black Dog Exercise Play Pen Review

Our #2 pick for the best doggie playpen is this model from Smithbuilt. What separates it from the pack is that it is extremely lightweight and portable, collapsing down to a flat two inches when completely disassembled. Like the Midwest Exercise Pen, the Smithbuilt comes in five different sizes so you can pick the right height for your dog.

This dog playpen sets up and breaks down without any tools. It was clearly designed with portability in mind, since it comes with its own all-weather nylon carrier bag.

SmithBuilt Premium 8-Panel Black Dog Exercise Play Pen - playpen for dogs

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#3 –  Best Dog Exercise Pen – Bestpet Heavy Duty Pet Playpen Review

Our #3 choice is this heavy duty pet playpen from Bestpet. It’s made of heavy-duty rust-resistant steel, and the sides are 40” high – high enough to prevent all but the most agile dogs from escaping. This puppy playpen has some nice features. The rust-proof coating means that you can use it indoors or outdoors. It comes with eight panels that you can reconfigure based on your requirements, and it’s fairly easy to transport.

It doesn’t require any tools to put together or take apart, which makes it a nice choice in terms of portability. It also collapses flat so it won’t take up a lot of room in your car if you have to move it around.

This pet playpen is sturdy and portable, and that’s why it’s our #3 pick!

BestPet Heavy Duty Pet Playpen - Dog playpen

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#4 – Best Large Dog Playpen – Oxgord Dog Animal Heavy Duty Playpen Review

Our #4 pick is this heavy duty option that is built to contain even the most active dogs. Like the name suggests, this is an extremely sturdy pen. It comes in a variety of heights so you can choose the one that will best contain your dog.

A nice feature of this pet playpen is that you can set it up in a variety of configurations to accommodate the needs of your dog. You can adjust both the shape and size of the pen, which makes this one of the most versatile choices around.

Another nice thing about this dog pen is that it comes with stakes that you can use to drive the sides into the ground to make it stable if you are using it outside. Even if your dogs are going to be running around, they’ll have a hard time getting out of this pen!

Oxgord Dog Animal Heavy Duty Playpen - Dog playpen

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#5 – Best Plastic Playpen For Dogs – Iris Indoor/Outdoor Plastic Pet Pen

Our #5 pick is this super affordable plastic pen. If cost and portability are your primary concerns, this is a great option for you.

Like the other pens on our list, this one doesn’t have a roof. However, the company does sell a mesh top separately, so if your dog is a real escape artist this might be the best choice for you. This is the lightest of all the options listed here because it’s made of plastic and not metal. That means you don’t have to worry about rust, and the whole pen is very easy to move around.

You have the choice of ordering four panels to make a square pen, or eight to make a large octagonal pen. The option of buying a top for the pen, combined with the lightweight construction and versatile size, make this a very affordable option.

IRIS Indoor/Outdoor Plastic Pet Pen - Puppy playpen

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What is a Dog Play Pen?

A puppy pen allows your dog to have some freedom when in the house or outside, but they still confine your dog to ensure that he or she isn’t allowed to leave the space. Owners use a pet pen most often when a pet is a puppy.

One example of a time when a puppy play pen may be warranted is when you’re trying to teach your pet to go to the bathroom outside.

Smaller cages won’t provide a puppy with the room that they need to release their energy, and they’re often too small to do much else than stand up, turn around and lay down. When you come home and do let your dog out of the cage, they’ll often:

  • Run up and get excited
  • Pee on the floor out of excitement

And the vicious cycle will continue. Puppy pens allow your pet to have some freedom – certainly more than a normal crate – yet they confine your dog to a space you can prep for messes.

The Iris dog pen is a good example of an affordable, yet functional dog pen. While not the best-in-class, this model does come with a little door to let Fido easily out of their cage – without straining your back in the process.

You’ll find puppy playpens, indoor dog pens and you can even buy an outdoor playpen, which is great when trying to train your pet. There are even models designed for exercise, which every pet, whether a puppy or adult, will need plenty of to grow and stay strong.



Different Types of Playpens for Dogs

Dog playpens come in a variety of types. While a Great Dane is large, they would need a pet pen that is much larger than a puppy pen that they can easily escape from. The right type of pen will be spacious enough for your dog, yet it’ll ensure that your pet can’t escape from the pen and run amuck inside or outside of the home.

We’re going to cover dog play pens in their most basic form first:

Indoor Puppy Pen

A dog indoor playpen is meant for use indoors. These are the play pens that you’ll use when you want to keep the dog in the home while you’re out running errands or don’t have the time to watch your dog carefully.

The idea is that the pet play pen will keep your pet safe, and it confines the pet to a specified area.

What you may not know is that dogs don’t like to go to the bathroom where they sleep. Who does? This is why people choose to crate train their pet because the animal will not go to the bathroom in their crate.

Many pens will work the same way.

But some pets will go to the bathroom even in their crate or their pet play yard because they have to go. There are times when your pet will not be able to hold it in anymore.

These playpens are designed to be indoors, so they won’t have the same level of durability or protection against the elements like an outdoor model. There are hybrid models available that are both indoor and outdoor models, allowing you to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Outdoor Pet Pen

Outdoor pens, compared to an indoor puppy playpen, offer a more durable design. They’re similar in nature, but outdoor pens should have some form of rust resistance to ensure they can withstand the elements.

Otherwise, the pen’s material will start to degrade and may pose a risk of injury, too.

The Midwest puppy playpen is an example of a pen that has been designed with rust resistant materials so that it can be used all year long. Many owners also leave these units outdoors for extended periods of time.

If you want your furry friend to enjoy the outdoors with you but don’t have the ability to watch over their every move when you’re out in the yard, a doggy play pen is a smart choice.

Exercise Puppy Pens

Exercise pens are either indoor or outdoor pens, and the main difference is that they’re larger in size. These pens will allow dogs to be able to play, roll around and shake their toys without running out of room in the meantime.

A lot of owners will buy a large playpen for their puppies, and this will often suffice.

When a dog is growing, especially breeds that are routinely larger in size, it’s better to buy a larger playpen if you want to use the pen as the puppy grows. An exercise pen for dogs must be tall enough so that your dog can’t jump out of the pen.


Product
Quality
Strength
Price
Overall Rating
Review
#1 MidWest Exercise Pen
Very High
High
Check Price
99%
Review
#2 SmithBuilt Premium 8-Panel Dog Exercise Play Pen
Very High
High
Check Price
98%
Review
#3 BestPet Heavy Duty Pet Playpen
High
Very High
Check Price
98%
Review
#4 Oxgord Dog Animal Heavy Duty Playpen
High
High
Check Price
97%
Review
#5 IRIS Indoor/Outdoor Plastic Pet Pen
High
Medium
Check Price
95%
Review

Importance of a Puppy Play Pen

Why would someone buy dog play pens? Because they’re important to your dog and your home. Everyone that has ever owned a puppy knows that they like to get into everything. It’s not uncommon to come home from work to find that your sweet, big-eyed puppy decided to gnaw on the legs of that piece of antique furniture that has been passed down two generations.

And while you may want to go into a fit of rage, it really isn’t the dog’s fault.

Dogs are naturally going to be mischievous when they’re younger, and they’ll do a lot more than eat your furniture. They’ll also:

  • Use your new carpeting as an outhouse
  • Chew through socks and shoes
  • Rip up blankets and pillows
  • Get in the trash
  • Knock over lamps

You get the point.

Dog playpens help put an end to these mischievous activities – or curb the occurrence of these events.

For training purposes, doggy playpens are a vital tool for constraint.

Yet, even a small animal playpen will have more than enough room (when it’s the right size for the breed) to allow a dog to walk, play and get some of its energy out. If you leave your pet in a small create, they’ll get cramped and they’ll be miserable if they’re not sleeping.

Plenty of people keep their pets in crates at night for comfort reasons, but you don’t want the dog to live in a crate for 70% of their lives.

Muscles don’t have the chance to gain strength, the dog won’t be able to be active and, in some cases, the lack of movement can cause proteins in the dog’s liver to buildup, which wouldn’t happen with a larger, doggie playpen.

Putting all of this together, you’ll find the importance of a dog playpen is to:

  • Keep a pet confined
  • Allow for enough movement when confined

And if you have a pet that will run when you open the door, it’s much better to put them in puppy play pens than to allow them to scratch at your bathroom door or bolt out of the house. Exercise pens for dogs will be able to let your dog expend some of this energy without feeling the need to run out the door with you frantically chasing behind.



Doggie Play Pen Buying Guide

You’re interested in the Iris pet pen, but you’re still struggling between the Iris playpen and the Midwest exercise pen with door – we’ve been there, too. It’s difficult to pick a pen when you really aren’t sure what’s good and what’s necessary.

Do you need a door? Maybe.

What about the size? Doggy playpens are a commitment to your furry friend, and there is a lot to consider.

We’re going to be discussing what you, the consumer, should do to narrow down your choices when picking a dog playpen.

The Basics

There are a few basics that you’ll want to consider before delving into all of the features that you’ll come across. A few of the things we recommend doing are:

  • Set a Budget: Go into the buying process with a budget. If you plan on buying a dog play yard, how much will it cost? A pet play yard can cost $30 – $60+, so make a general budget before making your choice.
  • Read Reviews: If you look at all of the models we’ve reviewed above and decided that the Iris dog playpen (or any of the models we picked) isn’t the right choice for you, you’ll find that there are countless models available. The key most important thing to do in this case is to read reviews. With reviews, you’ll gain insight into these products from a consumer’s perspective.
  • Space: Where will you put the dog playpen? You want it to be close to the family when possible. Dogs are pack animals, and if you keep them in their pen away from the family, they won’t feel like “one of the pack.” Try and find a space to determine where you’ll put your pen.
  • Type of Pen: Earlier, we discussed the different types of pet playpens you’ll find. If you plan on keeping a pen outdoors, you need to make certain that the dog playpen was designed for outdoor use.

These are the most basic things you’ll need to consider when choosing your pen, but there is a lot more to consider.

Important Features of a Pet Play Pen

In terms of features, you’ll find that a dog play yard doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but it does have a lot of specs and small features that make a big difference when choosing the right model for you.

A few of the features and specifications that will matter the most when picking your pet play yard are:

  • Pen Size: We’ve mentioned it before, but a small animal playpen won’t work well for a dog that can easily jump over the fencing or walls. Most models will allow you to customize the size of the pen by reducing panels, and this allows for a versatile pen that can be adjusted in size as your pet grows and their needs change.
  • Reconfiguration: Do you want a standard square play pen, or would you like options? Many models can be reconfigured, so your puppy play yard can be an octagon play yard, circular or placed against the side of the house to act as a normal, fenced-in area.
  • Doors: Never underestimate the important of a door. A playpen for puppies may not need a door, but a large pet playpen that will hold a 50+ pound dog should have a door. Otherwise, you’ll need to step over the playpen’s wall (often falling or tripping), or you’ll notice how your back has suddenly began to hurt from all of that lifting.
  • Materials: The material that the play pen is made out of is very important. You want only the best for your dog, and the following materials are most common:
    • Plastic: The plastic pen is durable and affordable, and since these models don’t rust, they’re often sufficient for outdoor use. When used indoors, you don’t need to worry about these pens scratching the floor, which some metal ones will do. Dogs that like to chew can chew through a plastic model over time, so keep this in mind.
    • Metal: When you choose a metal play pen, know that these models are more expensive, but they’re also more durable. Metal models have a tendency to be high quality, but when used outdoors, make sure there is a rust-resistant coating on the pen so that it doesn’t degrade and pose a risk of injuring your pet (more on that in our next section).
    • Mesh: Not as common, mesh pens have the benefit of being more comfortable (they often include a floor, which is nice for outdoor use. But they can also be bitten through by puppies. These models are designed to be as durable as their counterparts, but they are still able to help you train your pup. They also have roofs in some cases, ensuring that it’s impossible for your pet to escape out of the pen.
  • Stabilizers or Stakes: When placed outside, a small dog playpen can move and even be picked up off the ground in heavy winds. This causes a hazard for your pet and property. Stakes or stabilizers for an outdoor play pen will be able to secure the pen in place so that it doesn’t get moved by your dog or strong winds.

And always choose the appropriate height for your dog playpen. A large dog playpen will need a much higher height than a pen designed for small dogs. When in doubt, it’s better to choose a large dog pen that your dog won’t be able to jump out of than a dog play pen that is too small and doesn’t do its job.


Is a Dog Play Yard Safe?

Whether you call them dog playpens, play pins or play yards, they’re all inherently safe when you purchase them (and they’re not defective). They’ve been designed from the ground up to be able to help consumers contain their animals.

But they can be dangerous in some cases.

An x pen for dogs needs to be examined periodically. This is essential if you hope to keep your pet safe. Why? There are a few reasons:

  1. Metal pens can rust and break. When a metal pen does rust and break, your dog can be severely injured on the jagged edges left behind. Some dogs will get excited, go to jump up on the side of the metal dog playpen, and if it gives out and breaks, the pet can become impaled in severe cases. Dog playpen offering rust resistance and a high-quality design won’t be a concern.
  2. Plastic play pens can be eaten through by some breeds. They’ll gnaw at a part of the pen, and after some time, they’ll break it. This poses a slight risk of swallowing the broken piece of plastic, which can then become lodged in the dog’s throat.

These are two very rare occurrences, and in both cases, they could be avoided with the proper diligence of the owner.



FAQs About a Pet Play Yard or Pen

Can Dog Playpens Hurt a Dog?

No. Pens are very safe, but if they do begin to rust, you’ll want to replace them to ensure that your dog doesn’t get hurt if the pen breaks. A doggie play pen that’s made out of metal and rusts can break, causing the dog to be subject to potentially sharp edges.

Do Dog Play Pens Breakdown for Easy Transport?

Yes. Many models will be able to be broken down to a much smaller size to be able to transport them from one room to the next, or from outdoors to indoors.

Should I Buy a Large Playpen?

This depends on the size of your dog. A husky, for example, will be able to jump out of even a large dog playpen. A puppy play pen will be significantly smaller in size compared to a pen designed for a larger dog.

If you have a breed that is considered large, you’ll want to buy a larger dog pen.

Even that small puppy that you know and love will grow into a larger dog. Don’t underestimate just how fast your dog grows and buy a pet play pen based on the adult size of your dog unless you only plan on using it for a month or two.

How Do I Care for a Dog Indoor Playpen?

There isn’t much care involved with these pens. A doggie play pen will really only need to be visually examined to ensure that the unit hasn’t broken or rusted over time. If it’s used out in the snow and rock salt gets on the pen, you’ll want to wipe this off with a rag to ensure the salt doesn’t begin to corrode the metal.

Do They Offer a Small Animal Playpen?

The great thing about puppy pens is that they come in a variety of sizes. The Bestpet Playpen offers a variety of configurations and a high height, so this is a pen that can change in size and has a 40” height, which is ideal for most dog sizes.

Some companies will offer different models for this purpose. The Iris 4 panel pet pen is smaller in size than the Iris 8 panel pet pen as an example.

How Much Does an Average Doggie Playpen Weigh?

This is a very difficult question to answer. A dog playpen with floor model would weigh more than your standard dog indoor playpen. Weights vary drastically depending on design, too. A heavy duty pen can weigh as much as 50 pounds.

Smaller units can weigh under 15 pounds.

Should You Use Doggy Playpens at Night, Too?

What’s interesting about playpens for dogs is that dogs like to have their own space. Many dog owners find that their pet will want to use their crates and pens at night. The reason for this is security.

Smaller breeds often suffer from security issues, so they’ll find comfort sleeping in their doggy playpen.

Make your own judgement and see. If your dog is teething or going through a phase where they want to sleep on the bed (and it’s something you don’t prefer), you may find keeping them in a doggie playpen is in your best interest.

How Do I Get My Dog to Like the Playpen?

One of the biggest mistakes owners make is they cause their pet to believe they’re in their play pen because they’re bad. Putting your dog in the pen out of anger (maybe he or she went to the bathroom in the middle of your carpet) can cause this to happen.

But you want to try and make it a positive experience for your pet.

A lot of owners will place food and water in the pen, making it the dog’s place to eat. This reinforces that being in the pen is a good thing.

What Items Should Be Placed in the Pen?

A dog indoor playpen can be filled with all sorts of items. A few of the items people put in their dog playpen are:

  • Toys
  • Blankets
  • Pet beds
  • Paper or pads (for housetraining)
  • Water and food

Don’t make the area too cramped, as you want your pet to be able to move around freely. If there is limited room, it will defeat the main purpose of your exercise pen – to allow your dog to be able to exercise.


Best Dog Playpen Conclusion!

There are a lot of reliable dog playpens out there, but these five are our top picks because of their portability and versatility. Each model has its special features, so think about your dog’s needs (and your own needs) and then click to buy the one you like best!

 

Product
Quality
Strength
Price
Overall Rating
Review
#1 MidWest Exercise Pen
Very High
High
Check Price
99%
Review
#2 SmithBuilt Premium 8-Panel Dog Exercise Play Pen
Very High
High
Check Price
98%
Review
#3 BestPet Heavy Duty Pet Playpen
High
Very High
Check Price
98%
Review
#4 Oxgord Dog Animal Heavy Duty Playpen
High
High
Check Price
97%
Review
#5 IRIS Indoor/Outdoor Plastic Pet Pen
High
Medium
Check Price
95%
Review