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Sometimes your dog might just need a safe spot to hang out. Maybe you have a puppy who gets into mischief when left alone or an older dog that needs a cozy place to stay. A pen offers an easy solution.
There are all kinds of options from simple metal pens to fancy wooden gates that do triple-duty as room dividers and attractive pens. Choose based on the size of your dog, how rowdy they are, and whether portability is an important factor for you.
Ahead, you'll find the best dog pens on the market.
Best Overall: IRIS Open Wire Dog Pen
Dimensions: 47.24 x 31.50 x 27.95 inches (Large version) | Material: Wire
Open top but secure bottom
Three sizes, including tall
This is a great cross between a crate and a pen. It has the security and sturdiness of a solid wire crate, but it doesn’t have the feeling of confinement because there’s no top. This is a perfect solution for puppies where you need to reach in often to change potty pads or for senior dogs who need a safe spot. It’s also a good choice for dogs recovering from surgery when you might have to lift them in and out, but still need to limit their movement.
The pen comes in three sizes: medium, large, and large tall (for the climbers in the bunch). The wood-look trim and white epoxy-covered wire makes it look a lot nicer than traditional crates and pens.
Best Convertible: Richell 3-in-1 Convertible Pet Gate
Dimensions: 31.5 x 135 inches as a gate or 68.9 x 31.9 x 31.5 inches as a pen | Materials: Wood
Works as a gate, pen, and room divider
Has gate for easy access
Not for very large or very tiny dogs
Some pets can open the gate
This handy product is attractive, functional, and versatile as it does triple-duty as a pen, gate, and room divider. The panels are easy to lock in place at either a 90-degree or 180-degree angle. There’s a lockable gate so it’s easy for owners to move from room to room or get inside the pen to clean, however some owners say that crafty pets can easily figure out how to unlatch the gate.
The gate is available with four or six panels and you can attach more if you need a larger pen or want to block off a bigger room. The manufacturer says it’s meant to contain pups 8.8 to 44 pounds.
Best Traveling Pen: EliteField Two-Door Soft Playpen
Dimensions: 62 x 62 x 36 inches | Material: Polyester, mesh, and steel tubing
Easy to fold
Top and bottom zip off
Can be tipped over
Zippers, mesh, and canvas can be chewed
This pop-up canvas playpen has soft sides, is easily folded, and comes with a carrying bag. It’s simple to tote with you on the road if you travel a lot, whether it’s camping or taking your pup to grandma’s house. It will give them a familiar, cozy spot to sleep and stay safe. The playpen has a zip-off canvas bottom and a zip-off mesh top. You can take off the bottom if you want to put your dog in the grass and can keep on the top if you worry about an escape artist. (I worry about teeny puppies outside and predators like hawks.)
There are mesh windows for ventilation, handy pockets for storage, and stakes to keep it anchored. Rambunctious dogs can learn how to tip this over and clever ones can unzip the zippers so it’s best for chill pups. It comes in six sizes and a rainbow of seven colors.
Best Heavy Duty: Precision Pet Courtyard Kennel Exercise Pen
Dimensions: 38 x 36 inches | Material: Metal
Multiple pens can be attached together
Has step-through gate
Available in just one size
Heavy (65 pounds)
This heavy-duty metal pen has lots of key features. You can use it indoors to offer a safe space for a puppy (or a whole litter) to play. Or you can set up a temporary spot for your pets outside if you want to keep them nearby when you’re outdoors. The metal is a durable galvanized steel.
Unlike some pens that can feel flimsy, this one is sturdy and solid. There’s a step-through door for easy access to pick up your pet, to change potty pads, or offer food and water. Several of these can be attached together to make a bigger pen.
Best Budget: MidWest Homes for Pets Folding Metal Pet Playpen
Dimensions: 24 to 48 x 24 inches | Materials: Metal
Easy to set up and move
Can configure in different shapes
Some dogs can climb out
Can move across the floor
There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles for a basic metal exercise pen (or “x-pen”) but they are a good cost-effective way to keep your pup safe and out of trouble. They are quick to assemble: just unfold them and attach with the included clips. There are also anchors to help stabilize this pen if you are going to use it outside.
They come in many heights, ranging from 24 inches to 48 inches, so you can choose based on the size (or climbing ability!) of your dog. You can also clip more than one of these together if you need a bigger space. They can be arranged into an octagon, square, or rectangle but if they stay in that configuration depends on how rowdy your dog is!
Best Indoor: IRIS USA, Inc. 34-Inch Exercise Playpen
Dimensions: 34 x 24.6 inches | Material: Plastic
Easy to assemble
No step-through gate
Bulky to move
This pen is a great-looking option when you need to keep a pet out of trouble in the middle of your living room. It comes in two shades of gray, as well as white, and is made of molded plastic that will never rust. The panels are easy to assemble with long full-length rods that keep them connected. You can let your pup in and out through the door that has a metal swing latch.
"I have this pen and one drawback is that if you’re short (I’m 5’2”) you have to take out one of the pins each time you want to step inside to clean up. It’s just too tall for me to step over. I’ve had friends borrow this to use in place of a crate when they want a nicer place for pets to sleep in a bedroom."–Mary Jo DiLionardo, Dog Foster Parent and Spruce Pets Writer
Best for Puppies: Paws & Pals Wire Heavy Duty Playpen
Dimensions: 24, 32, or 40 inches high x 30 inches | Material: Metal
Easy to put together
Straight gate latch (might be easy to open for some dogs)
Some owners complain of rusting
This sturdy metal pen is so easy to assemble, you might spend more time unboxing it than putting it together. More solid than simple x-pens, it is made of rounded tube frames and rust-resistant coating for indoor or outdoor use. There’s a convenient step-through gate and the eight panels can be moved so the pen can be configured in several shapes.
There are several different heights so you can choose based on the current height (or projected adult height) of your puppy. The rods that connect the panels can be used as anchor stakes to help secure the pen if you want to give your pup some time outside.
What to Look for in a Dog Pen
The most important factor when choosing any dog gear is safety. You don’t want to put a tiny puppy in a pen with wire bars that are too far apart where they could get their head stuck. Or you don’t want to put an aggressive chewer in a canvas pen where they could gnaw their way out or swallow a zipper or ingest some mesh.
Watch your pet and see how they behave inside the pen at first. Make sure they’re not able to scramble over the top or tip it over. It should be a solid, safe, comfortable place for them to hang out.
Depending on how you plan on using the pen, you’ll want to make sure your pet has room to move around. If it’s for a puppy, make sure there’s room for a separate sleeping area, a place to play, and a potty spot.
You’ll want something that’s easy to fold and relatively lightweight if you’re going to move your pen from room to room, take it with you on trips, or move it from indoors to outdoors. Some playpens are harder to collapse than others and awkward to set up.
What size pen should I get for my dog?
Most pen manufacturers will offer size recommendations based on your pet’s breed, weight, or height. Keep in mind that rambunctious puppies or rowdy breeds will be more likely to jump against the sides or try to climb out of a pen than calmer, older pets.
How can I keep my dog from climbing out of the pen?
Make sure your pen is tall enough for your dog, especially if you have a climber. Some playpens have detachable tops made from netting or other materials to keep your pup from making a break for it. You can also make your own top by attaching a bed sheet or some garden mesh to the top. If your pen has a door, always open it and take your pup out that way. Once dogs figure out they can go over the top, they can realize climbing is one option to get out.
How can I keep the dog pen clean?
Check out the cleaning instructions that come with the pen. Many coated metal pets can simply be hosed down with water and dried with a towel or allowed to air dry. Because canvas pens might stain, it would be smart to put down a washable pee pad (view on Amazon) on the floor to help with accidents.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets?
The proud mom of a rescue dog, Mary Jo DiLonardo has fostered more than three dozen dogs and puppies. She has tried many different pens to keep them safe and out of mischief. For more than 25 years, Mary Jo has covered a wide range of topics focused on nature, pets, science, and anything that helps make the world a better place.