Last Thanksgiving was a wild one. At only two months old, Eira was an energetic, high-needs puppy and we couldn’t leave her home. We still hadn’t purchased a crate for her and didn’t want to leave her alone in the house. The last time I’d done that, I had tried to keep Eira enclosed with a baby gate at the end of a long hallway. The first time I did that, she pooped and ran around in her anxiety to the point where she needed a bath the moment I got home, and the hallway and baby gate needed a thorough cleaning.
The second time I tried that, she was slightly bigger. Big enough to jump over! So, for Thanksgiving, we brought her to our friend’s home. Thankfully they have lots of dogs and it was a big old party with Eira and her mastiff friend Thea playing almost constantly. Eira being Eira, she kept pestering Thea even when the other puppy was clearly done.
Tiny Eira plays with her mastiff friend, Thea, last Thanksgiving. Thea enjoyed playing with Eira for half an hour at a time, after which she’d take massive naps. Eira never wanted to stop playing!
Our friends had a large, plastic puppy playpen to put the dogs into one at a time when another dog needed a break. At one point, there were four dogs in the living room. Eira loved it! But the rest of us wanted some peace and quiet to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal.
Three of the four total dogs who played together on Thanksgiving in 2018. Eira slept well that night!
When we arrived home that night with a totally wiped-out puppy, we knew we needed to find a good puppy playpen. That way Eira could entertain her friends in an enclosed space — we often had toddlers and dogs in the same room, and that could get wild really quickly. But here’s the thing: most metal playpens aren’t cheap. We didn’t want a plastic playpen because Eira had a penchant for chewing plastic things, like the brake shift in my car.
It was a while before we could afford to buy a metal puppy playpen. Technically, Eira’s not such a puppy anymore, but we LOVE her metal playpen. We finally bought it for her after she got spayed and pooped twice on the carpet. We decided to keep her in the playpen at night or when our toddler had had enough puppy for a little while.
It’s now essential to our peace and happiness as a family. Eira enjoys having a safe space to escape my son, and my son enjoys not having to worry about Eira eating his Play-Doh.
Eira in her puppy playpen. We love how you can adjust the metal play pen to suit any space in your home!
At just over 1,000 square feet, our house is pretty small. So there’s no room to put the crate out in the center of the living room, but we tuck it up against the wall as you can see in the photo above. In the video below, you’ll see how we can easily leave it open for Eira to come and go but still have access to her food, water, and favorite rug. At night, we close it and hook it on a Command Hook so that Eira can’t open it and slip out.
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See how easy it is to fold the crate to fit your house? Plus it’s nice and tal. Eira hasn’t tried to jump out of it, although she might be able to. If that’s an issue for your dog you can find metal puppy gates that are higher than the one we have for Eira.
In fact, there are tons and tons of options on the market. Below, we’ll show you our top 6 puppy playpens, including the one I got for Eira! Like Eira’s, a lot of these playpens are suitable for indoor or outdoor use. We still haven’t used Eira’s outside because she has a big area that we want her to be able to explore, and the playpen would limit that. But there are some playpens on here that might fit an area even of that size.
ESK Collection Puppy Playpen
Ideal for smaller dogs, this puppy playpen isn’t metal. This works well if you:
- Have a verified non-chewer.
- Don’t want the clunky look of a metal gate in your home.
- Travel a lot with your pup.
- Have a verified jumper — the playpen has a ceiling so your pup won’t be able to leap out.
The light, foldable playpen is easy to fold down and bring with you in the car so you can give your littler dog a secure space to use the potty, play, or rest. It’s an indoor-outdoor playpen that measures 48 inches across and 25 inches tall, and it comes in several colors, including red, pink, blue, and black. It’ll look adorable in any home, and when you’re not using it, it’s easy to store.
Don’t worry about your pup not being able to breathe: the sides and top are made from mesh for ventilation (and so you can see your little dog playing whenever you want). The mesh and the oxford cloth fabric are durable and waterproof. Plus, the outer walls feature roomy pockets for storing treats, leashes, toys, and more.
This product would also be ideal if your dog is having puppies. It’s a safe, enclosed space, and you can purchase a whelping bad to place inside the playpen as an easy-to-clean floor.
The pricing for this product is relatively inexpensive, especially compared with the solid quality the playpen provides.
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North States Indoor/Outdoor Playard With Lockable Door
Ideal for smaller dogs or senior dogs who don’t jump, this roomy playpen is about 7 feet in diameter and 26 inches tall. What I love about this playpen is that it comes with a lockable door — just your typical doggy door flap that your dog can freely enter or exit, but that you can lock if you want your dog to stay inside the pen. Even better, the eight panels are detachable from each other. If you want a smaller space, you can have it. And then you can put the panels you took out in front of your stairs or in any doorways you don’t want your pet to reach.
Made in the USA from extra-durable plastic material, this isn’t a pen your dog can easily chew to shreds. Even better, the playpen comes with pads on the feet so that it doesn’t scratch wood floors. Like the first pen we looked at, this one works both indoors and outdoors. As a bonus, it features a carrying strap to make it easy to gather together and bring on a road trip.
Keep in mind that this playpen costs nearly twice as much as the first one we listed. But it’s a sturdy one.
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Midwest Foldable Metal Playpen
This is the playpen we got for Eira, and it was a fantastic choice. You can get one with or without a door. We got one with a door. Even though we don’t use it, it’s nice to know it’s there if we ever move to a bigger house where Eira can enjoy the full setup of the fence. The great thing about this playpen is that Eira can’t chew it, climb it, or jump over it. Like I said earlier, she has tried to jump but she doesn’t make it over. She just jumps up and then back down, but we do have the 36-inch-high playpen. If you have a real jumper on your hands, get the 42-inch or 48-inch fence.
Even better, when Eira tries to jump or nose her way out, we can hear her. The metal gate is loud! This might be a downside for some, but for us, it’s great. Most of the time, of course, Eira freely comes and goes. She still chooses to curl up on the rug inside her playpen because it’s her favorite spot in the house.
The metal foldable playpen is SO much better than what we were doing before, which was sectioning off her favorite corner with a wooden chair and that old baby gate. This was supposed to keep her out of our bedrooms at night (we keep the doors open so we can hear our kiddo and any intruders potentially breaking in) but it was sure clunky.
Note the dining room chair blocking the opening between the two sofas, and the baby gate that needs propping up in several places. We had to take this all down during the day and set it up again when we needed it. The wire playpen has eliminated these problems!
Now we’ve got the wire playpen and life is much simpler!
Eira in her wire playpen.
It’s even great for toddlers. (Just kidding.)
My three-year-old snuck into the playpen while Eira was outside going potty. He didn’t stay long! Kidding aside, in this photo you can see how we’ve folded up a couple sections to make the playpen fit in our home. That’s something I love about this playpen.
What I don’t love about this playpen is that it isn’t the prettiest piece of furniture we have in our home. But alas, it’s so functional that it’s hard to care. The things we do for our fur babies! Besides, look how neatly it folds up. It’s kind of heavy when folded, but still manageable. I wouldn’t bring it on a long trip but I’d bring it for a weekend getaway.
It takes just a few seconds to fold this metal playpen into a neat but somewhat heavy rectangle.
You can find fences from MidWest Pets below, and choose between no-door/door varieties, as well as pick your ideal size. Best of all? MidWest Pets’’ playpens are good quality at a low price.
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Yaheetech Heavy Duty 32 Panel Playpen
Do you have an enormous house or a section of backyard you’d like to reserve for your dog (without having to pay for and do all the work to build a fence?)? Then this playpen by Yaheetech can suit your needs. Instead of the typical 8-panel setup, it contains 16. You can buy a 16-panel playpen that’s 24, 32, or 40 inches high. The 40-inch, 16-panel fence would work really well in my backyard. The trick is getting it up to Alaska! If you have a small or medium dog who needs tons of space, you can even order a 32-panel fence. Wow! But that one is only 24 inches high, which is why it’s best for smaller dogs. If you have multiple dogs and they need separate exercise areas, you can easily divide this fence in two. Miraculously, it doesn’t require tools to set up.
Even better, you get two access doors with both the 16-panel and the 32-panel playpens. With a playpen of that size, it’s necessary to have more than one point of entry.
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Richell Convertible High Pet Playpen
A friend of mine from Oklahoma swears by this extra-tall pet gate for her two dogs. One of them is small, and the other is about Eira’s size. The best thing about this fence? It’s impossible for dogs to climb out of. If your dog seems to climb out of every wire and plastic fence in the universe, you may want to give the Richell Convertible High Pet Playpen a try. It can also become a room divider if you want your dog to stay in one room while you play in another. This playpen includes a lockable door so you can decide how much freedom your dog will have, and when.
It’s much pricier than the other fences, but my friend has had hers for about four years now and it’s still going strong with two dogs and four kids in the house. That’s a testament to its durability!
Plus, like many of the playpens on our list, this one is suitable for indoor or outdoor use.
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Ruff ‘n Ruffus Foldable Portable Playpen
While this playpen is similar to the first one we looked at, it’s even more convenient for travel because it folds easily and packs into an included travel bag. It even comes with a matching collapsible bowl for your pup to drink or eat out of. This one comes in three sizes: medium (29” X 29” X 17”), large (36” X 36” X 23”) and extra large (48” X 48” X 23.5”), and each of the sizes folds into an accompanying carry case of the appropriate size. Like a tent, but without poles. But the height for even the extra large isn’t much, so this is best for small and medium dogs. If you spend a lot of time traveling with your pup and want a safe space to keep her contained and give her room to play, this might be the best choice for you.
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What type of playpen do you use for your dog? Let us know in the comments!
Laura Ojeda Melchor grew up with two beloved German shepherd dogs—Clancy and her daughter, Bella. From the time her family brought Clancy home, Laura took on the duty of pooper-scooper and potty trainer. As a teenager Laura helped her mother care for Clancy during her pregnancy. She still remembers fondly the exciting, frigid winter night when the seven special puppies were born. Laura kept the youngest puppy—Bella—and potty trained her, too. She taught Bella important commands, took her for long walks, and spent hours throwing tennis balls for her.
In November, Laura brought home a sweet new puppy, Eira Violet. Eira is half Alaskan malamute and half German shepherd, and Laura loves her deeply. She chose not to use a crate to potty train Eira and was pleasantly surprised at the results. She now has a sweet, energetic dog who always uses the potty outside, plays well with Laura’s toddler, and enjoys long family walks in beautiful Alaska. If you were to meet Eira, she’d bound up to you with a wagging tail and get you running around the yard with her in no time.