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Dog Play Pens / X-Pens: What to Look For + Reviews

Does your pooch cause mischief when you aren’t paying attention, but has too much energy to be happy cooped up in a crate? Maybe your pup steals shoes, or chews on things he’s not supposed to play with.

In this article we are going to discuss different types of dog exercise pens and give you our top picks, so your pup let out his inner crazy without worrying about your house being destroyed!

Best Dog Play Pens: Quick Picks

Dog Play Pen

Our Rating

Price

TOP PICK #1Midwest Exercise Dog Pen

$

TOP PICK #2: Iris Plastic Puppy and Dog Play Pen

    

$$

TOP PICK #3: Precision Soft-Sided Dog Play Pen

$$

TOP PICK #4: Richell Convertible Indoor / Outdoor Play Pen

$$$

TOP PICK #5OxGord Folding Exercise Playpen

$$

Why Buy a Play Pen For Your Pooch?

Exercise pens provide a safe, contained space for your dog to romp around without having full range of your house. They are useful in a number of different scenarios:

  • Puppies and Chaos-Seeking Canines. Play pens are useful for dogs of any age that you want to keep out of mischief, but can be especially useful for a puppy (or a litter of puppies) that isn’t fully trained yet!
  • Keep Out of Certain Rooms. A dog exercise pen might also be for you if you just want to keep your pets out of certain rooms or spaces. Some areas, like a garage, laundry room, or pool area, may contain dangerous elements or substances you want to keep your dog away from.
  • More Space Than a Crate. If you are home but unable to give your pup 100% of your attention, an exercise pen allows you to focus on other things while at the same time letting your rambunctious pooch can have adequate space to move around, stretch, and play.

Things to Consider When Buying a Dog Play Pen

  • Dog Size. You’ll want to buy a play pen that is big enough to let your pooch move around and get some exercise, and tall enough that he can’t jump out!
  • Location of Pen. Are you planning to keep your dog play pen inside or outside? Depending on the location, you’ll want to consider whether you require a durable, waterproof unit that can withstand the elements, or a more attractive aesthetic model that may fit in better with your home decor, but lacks the same kind of toughness.
  • How Tough is Your Pup? If you have an especially rambunctious pup that can chew through or break out of anything, you’ll want to consider a tougher, more durable exercise pen to withstand those canine chompers!
  • Portability. Before choosing a dog play pen, you may want to consider if you’ll be moving it around a lot, as some units are easier to transport than others. Some pens can easily be collapsed and adjusted, while others are more permanent fixtures that can’t easily be relocated.
  • To Adjust or Not to Adjust? If you are looking for a canine play pen that can meet several needs, you may prefer an adjustable pen that can change size with the removal or addition of panels. Depending on what type of space you are working with, there are different shaped x-pens. Some can even be positioned against a wall to be used as a makeshift fence.
  • When One Door Closes, Does Another Open? Some dog play pens come with doors, which can be convenient if you have limited movement or have a larger dog that can’t be lifted over the fence. It can also be a good way to avoid introducing your pooch to the concept of jumping over the pen.
  • Stabilizing Stakes to Keep Things in Place. If you are interested in keeping your dog exercise pen outside, you might consider one that comes with stakes or stabilizers to keep it from being knocked over by a larger dog or blown away by strong winds.
  • Materials. There are many different materials to choose from when picking a play pen that suits your needs.
  • Metal is the most common as it is sturdy and can be used inside or outside. However, it could be less ideal indoors as it is not the most attractive option and has the potential to scratch hardwood floors.
  • Wood is more aesthetically pleasing, but is not as durable for outdoor use. Wood can also be susceptible to avid chewers.
  • Plastic can be used indoors or outdoors, but also may not stand up to an aggressive chewer.
  • Mesh can work for indoor use as well, but is less durable and the soft fabric can be chewed through pretty easily.

Types of Dog Play Pens

INDOOR DOG PENS


It can be really nice to have a playpen inside your house to provide your pooch with more space to move around while still confining him to a specific area.

They can also be a valuable tool while you are housetraining a puppy, or to begin bridging the gap between the crate and having full range of the house. Starting with a small, safe space can be a good way to make a rescue dog feel at ease!

Eventually, you may consider graduating your dog to indoor dog gates, which give your dog free run of an entire room within your home.​

OUTDOOR DOG PENS


If you don’t have a fenced-in yard and don’t trust your pooch to not run away, but want to give your dog the ability to play outside unsupervised and off-leash, an outdoor pen could be just what you need.

But don’t forget to find a durable, rust and decay resistant material to withstand the elements! For a larger, more permanent outdoor option, you may also want to consider outdoor kennels.

Best Dog Exercise Pens: Our Top Picks

1. Midwest Exercise Dog Pen

Price: $

Color: Black and Gold Zinc

Size:​ 16 square feet of enclosed space. Eight 24 inch panels

Height: Comes in heights of 24, 30, 36, 42, and 48 inches

Additional Features: The Midwest Dog Exercise Pen can be purchased with or without a door. It comes with 8 ground anchors and a durable e-coat finish to protect against rust and other elements for outdoor use. Folds flat for convenient storage.

PROS: Owners like that this dog play pen comes with two door latches, and also love the ability to easily customize the shape of the exercise pen. The different height options make it an excellent choice for small to large dogs.

CONS: Some owners report their dogs climbing out of the shorter models, as well as knocking over the panels. With the gold zinc model, some users found the zinc coating wearing off.

2. Iris Plastic Puppy and Dog Play Pen

Price: $$

Color: Blue, Blue Moon, Brown, Chrome, Dark Grey, Frosty White, Pearl White, Pink, Red, Turquoise, and White

Size:​ 21 square feet of enclosed space. Eight 24.6 inch panels.

Height: Comes in heights of 24 and 34 inches

Additional Features: This dog play pen comes with a door that measures 14.5 inches in width by 20 inches in height. Made in the USA with durable molded plastic that can withstand the elements and can be used indoors or outdoors.

Each panel has a rubber foot to protect your floors, and panel add-ons can be purchased separately to provide your dog with even more space. Pad holders to protect your floors and roofs for extra security can be purchased separately as well.

PROS: Users love how sturdy and roomy this dog exercise pen is, as well as its aesthetic appeal. Some owners reported buying two and combining them to give their pups even more room to run around!

CONS: Some owners report that their dogs are able to push over the panels and get out, while others have dogs that are able to climb out.

3. Precision Soft-Sided Dog Playpen

Price: $$

Color: Navy / Tan

Size:​

  • Small: 29” x 29” x 17”
  • Medium: 36” x 36” x 21”
  • Large: 46” x 46” x 28”

Additional Features: Eight mesh water-resistant panels with ground stakes included for outside use. Floor and top of pen are removable and washable for convenient cleaning. Folds down for easy storage and transportation. Nylon carrying case includes a shoulder strap and side pockets.

PROS: Users love how easy this pen is to set up and say it is great for traveling. Mesh roof can keep animals in that otherwise could jump out.

CONS: Some users report pets being able to pull up the bottom panel. Mesh may not stand up to aggressive chewers. Some people struggled with collapsing this pen after it had been set up and wish it came with instructions.

4. Richell Convertible Indoor / Outdoor Dog Pet Play Pen

Price: $$$

Color: Tan

Size:​ Available as 4 or 6 panel play pen

  • 4 panel playpen: 33.1 x 33.1 x 36 inches
  • 6 panel playpen: 63.8 x 33.1 x 36 inches

Height: Available in low, medium, or tall

Additional Features: This dog play pen includes a swinging, lockable door. It can be used in a rectangular or hexagonal shape, and also has the ability to convert to a freestanding room divider.

Durable and easy to clean, this play pen is designed for indoor or outdoor use. This model is recommended for dogs up to 88 pounds. A Comfort mat and floor tray are available to be purchased separately with either the 4 or 6 panel pen.

PROS: Owners note that this x-pen is sturdy, durable, and easy to assemble/disassemble. Users love how easy it is to convert between closed shape and open room divider. The play pens vertical bars also make it easy to contain dogs that are prone to climbing.

CONS: While the play pen is sturdy, some owners report their dogs being able to open the door, so this may not be the best choice for clever Houdini dogs.

5. OxGord Folding Exercise Playpen

Price: $$

Color: Grey

Size:​

  • Octagon Diameter: 73 inch. Eight panels.
  • Height: Comes in heights of 24, 32, and 40 inches

Additional Features: This dog x-pen's rust resistant coating makes it great for indoor or outdoor use. This exercise pen also comes with stakes that can be used to secure it to the ground if using it outside.

The unit is collapsible and easy to break down, assemble, store, or transport. It includes a door with a latch to keep pets secured, and the all metal construction includes sturdy rods to hold the panels together. This pen can be configured in multiple shapes, and multiple pens can even be combined to create an even bigger play space!

PROS: Users love how durable and sturdy this dog play pen is. They also report the ease with which they set it up, take it apart, and transport it.

CONS: A few users noticed rust after outdoor use. Several owners also reported their dogs getting paws stuck after jumping up to try and get out, so it's best not to leave your dog unattended.

Dog Play Pen Safety 101: What to Watch For

It is important to make sure your dog play pen is a safe environment for your pooch! There are a few different dangers to be aware of:

  • Metal play pens can sometimes rust, which over time can make the metal prone to breaking, leaving your pup exposed to sharp edges. To remedy this, make sure to frequently check the condition of your metal x-pen and keep an eye out for rust.
  • Plastic play pens are more easily chewed, and if your dog is an avid chewer he might be at risk of ingesting lots of little plastic pieces or even choking. This could lead to injury and even expensive surgery.
  • Some play pens have bigger gaps in the walls of the panels, so be sure to find one where your dog won’t get his paws stuck!

Before picking an exercise pen, first think of your pooch and try to predict what kinds of shenanigans he may get up to - there’s sure to be the perfect play pen for you and your pup!

In this video from The Urban Puppy, they go over a bit more info about how to use a x-pen for your puppy:​

Introducing the Play Pen To Your Dog

When you first introduce your pooch to his new play pen, it is important to make sure the first experience is a positive one! There are several steps you can take to make sure your pup loves his x-pen.

  • Leave The Door Open. If your new pen comes with a door, it can be good to leave it open at first so your dog doesn't think of it as a trap (if there is no door, you can just leave two of the panels unlatched so there is an opening).
  • Make The Playpen a Fun Place! When you first get the pen, go in with your dog and give them some meals or treats in there so they know it’s a fun, comfortable place. Adding your pooch’s favorite toys or blankets is a good way to show him that the space is his. Avoid turning your dog’s play pen into an area of punishment - you don’t want your dog to think of it as a “bad place.”
  • Start Early and Go Slow. The younger your pup is when you introduce him to the playpen, the better! And no matter what age your pooch is, just let him take his time and become comfortable with the pen at his own pace. Eventually, your dog will love going into his play pen - it will be a place of his own that he can feel comfortable and safe in!

Do you have a play pen at home for your dog? How does he or she like it? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments section below!

About the Author Ingrid Mangold

Ingrid Mangold lives in Burlington, Vermont and is taking classes to become a Certified Vet Tech. She is an aspiring dog owner who makes do at the moment by petting every dog she sees!

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