12 Simple Dog Play Pen Facts You Need to Know

A dog play pen, also called a dog exercise pen, is the perfect solution to some very specific problems. Use our 12 Simple Facts to work out if you need one, what type is right for your dog, and how to properly get results.


Do You Need a Dog Play Pen?

dog play pen dog exercise pen - control the puppy!

Fact 1. A Dog Play Pen Or Dog Exercise Pen Has Very Little To Do With Exercise

Its function is restricting the movement of your dog and teaching them boundaries. A tiny puppy could find their play pen large enough for exercise, but not for long.

Sadly, most dogs don’t get nearly enough exercise. Find out How Much Exercise Your Dog Needs.


Dog Playpens

Most of these come in a range of sizes and colors. Click into the Amazon links below for full details and specifications.


Fact 2. You Use A Dog Playpen To Control A Puppy’s Environment

This is one very good reason why you need a dog playpen. Used correctly, it’s an excellent tool to assist in training your puppy and getting good behaviors reinforced early. See our article on How to Potty Train a Puppy, and further down the page for more examples.


Fact 3. Indoor Dog Play Pens Are Perfect For Apartments

If you need to restrict your dog to a certain area while you are away at work, an indoor play pen is the ideal tool.

Did you know you can watch and talk to your dog even while you are away? Check out the Petcube! Used in combination with a dog play pen, you will have perfect monitoring of what’s going on. Click the image below for more information.


Click the Petcube Image Above to Read Our Review


Additional Resource: Read our Best Apartment Dogs: Your Practical Guide


Fact 4. You Can Secure Your Dog Outdoors If Your Fence Isn’t Up To The Job

If your fence doesn’t form a working barrier for your dog, or if you have areas of the yard you want your dog to stay away from, an outdoor dog exercise pen gives you some options.


Dog Playpens

Most of these come in a range of sizes and colors. Click into the Amazon links below for full details and specifications.


Fact 5. A Portable Dog Play Pen Makes You A Better Guest

When you stay with friends or family, why not take your own play pen? If they don’t own dogs or if their home isn’t dog-proof, you can take the stress out of the situation by bringing along your own means of confinement. It can also make the unfamiliar environment seem more familiar to your dog.


Fact 6. You Still Need To Train Your Dog!

You can’t use a play pen instead of training your dog to behave. If your dog tears up the house when you are away, you need to fix the problem not just put the ‘problem’ into a pen.

Having said that, a dog play pen can be an aid in the training process.



OK, Let’s Pause

So now you’ve worked out that you need a dog play pen. The remaining 6 Simple Facts are all about using the pen, so before you can do that you need to get your hands on one. There are different types available.


What Type Do You Need?dog play pen dog exercise pen

Now you need to dig a little deeper into your requirements. Here’s what you need to think about.

  • Area: How much space do you need enclosed? Will that area change? Some dog play pens have extra panels that you can add as needed.
  • Height: There’s no point putting your dog in his pen if he can jump out at will. If he’s very agile, you may need to consider one with a top.
  • Indoor or Outdoor or Both: Where exactly are you planning to use the pen? Outdoor pens need to be resistant to the elements so they won’t rust, warp or fade. Indoor pens should be kind to floors. An indoor/outdoor pen needs to be easily cleaned when you bring it inside so you don’t track the dirt with you.
  • Portable: Do you need it to be easily disassembled and stored. Will it fit in the trunk of your car?
  • Kid-Safe: Does it need a child-proof lock?
  • Chew-Proof: If you’re not yet in control of your dog’s chewing habits.

Write your specific requirements down. Do it now – don’t skip this step.


Buy or Build?dog playpen

At DIY Dog Projects we’re always looking at what we can build rather than buy, and an outdoor dog exercise pen can be a great little DIY project. At its very simplest its just some basic frames joined together and covered with chicken wire. Keep it lightweight and you can lift from one side for access, but why not have more fun and build a simple hinged door as well?



Handy Hint: Use hinges to join two of the sides of your pen, and you can then use one of those sides like a swing gate. Simple and effective!




But hold on – let’s check back to that list of requirements you wrote down. If you’re going to build, make sure you build to the requirements. Think it through and make a plan.

We’d love to see some examples of what you’ve made for your dog. Enter a comment below!

Whether You Buy or Build, the Requirements Rule

It’s the same if you want to buy a play pen for your dog. Keep those requirements with you and don’t be side-tracked by any gimmicks.


How Do You Use Your Dog Play Pen?

This model meets many common requirements. Click here for more information.


Fact 7. You Need To Anchor Your Dog Play Pen

An indoor pen on a wooden floor can easily slide around, which partly defeats the purpose of using the pen. Place items with some weight against the sides to stop the movement.

Outdoors, you also have the option of staking your dog exercise pen down into the ground.


Dog Playpens

Most of these come in a range of sizes and colors. Click into the Amazon links below for full details and specifications.


Fact 8. Outdoors, You Need Somewhere Flat

The flatter, the better. You don’t want any gaps under the edge of the pen because they will create a temptation to dig. If your dog has a digging problem that you haven’t yet fixed, you may need to buy a pen with a floor or build a skirt around the inside edge of the pen to discourage the digging.


Fact 9. Shade And Water Are Always Essential

dog play pen dog exercise pen water always needed

When you place your dog playpen outdoors, find a spot where there is at least some shade and always make sure your dog has water. Bear in mind that the sun moves during the day if he’ll be staying in the pen for a while.


Fact 11. You Can Use The Control Of The Environment For Chew Toy Training

Your dog playpen lets you control your dog’s environment to nurture good habits. For example:

dog play pen or dog exercise pen training needed

Chew Toy Training Can Prevent This Behavior.

image source

To get benefit from your dog play pen, take advantage of the control it provides. In this case, teach a puppy what is OK to chew by only putting chew toys in the pen. Use a chew toy that will release a treat and your puppy will quickly associate chewing that particular toy with the reward of a snack. They grow up with the habit of chewing the chew toys, rather than chewing the furniture.



Fact 12. Position Matters Inside The Pen

If your dog or puppy will be sleeping in their pen, tuck their dog crate or bed into one corner. If using an indoor dog toilet as well, place that as far from the bed as possible. Dog’s by nature don’t want to make waste where they sleep, so placing the toilet at the furthermost point from the bed plays to their natural instincts.  Click through to learn more about which crates for dogs are most suited for your puppy.


Dog Playpens

Most of these come in a range of sizes and colors. Click into the Amazon links below for full details and specifications.


That’s The 12 Simple Facts All Done, But There’s More…

We’ve realised while putting this article together that there’s more we need to share with you about puppy training, not just the bits that involve a dog playpen. We’ll start to cover that in some future articles.

In the meantime, there is high quality information available from Doggy Dan the Online Dog Trainer (link below). He has an entire section dedicated to puppy training, and also a ‘Project Moses’ section where you can follow a video diary covering week 8 through to 1 year of his rescue puppy called ‘Moses’. It shows you how the right approach and the right training techniques will turn any puppy into a wonderful dog.

If your dog’s already grown up, there’s plenty of valuable information for you too!


At DIY Dog Projects, we think that teaching your dog good behavior is the most important and most rewarding project you can do for and with your dog. We hope this article has helped you understand the ins and outs of dog play pens. If you need more help, if you’re struggling to be in control, click on the Doggy Dan the Online Dog Trainer link below and let him be your guide.

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  1. Astrid

    Thanks!! Superbinformative and awesome!! I just got a puppy, and need to make a pen. This helped me a lot! 😉

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