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Why buy your dog a playpen if he already has a kennel? Well, a lot of pet owners think that one containment fits all. But this isn’t the case when it comes to your dog, especially those who won’t yield to crate training. Playpens allow your dog to adjust to the idea of confinement without solid walls and daunting doors that could be locked anytime. It’s like sending your pooch to playschool before going to grammar school. Besides, the best portable dog playpen can serve a lot of purposes aside from play. It can be used for exercise, sleeping area, training, and more.
Playpens are like crates or kennels but with more liberty. If the doggo bays and barks when placed on a locked kennel, playpens would be God-send alternatives. Here, I’ll focus on indoor playpens and how it will work for your dog.
What is a dog playpen?
Playpens are enclosures where your dog can play without getting hurt. A lot of pet owners use it to contain their dog when doing house chores or running errands. Personally, I use it to isolate my Samoyed pup upstairs while I do the vacuuming downstairs. As you know, pups – and even big doggos –go neurotic when they hear the hum of the sucking machine.
Take note that there are indoor and outdoor playpens. These are made of different materials but there are models that can be flexible enough to withstand both environments.
However, don’t mistake playpens to kennels or crates. I also had the same confusion when buying the first playpen for my Shiba (who already crossed the rainbow bridge) back in the days. Later on, I’ll discuss this, so stay hooked, my constant reader.
But aside from getting your dog stay in one place without feeling trapped, playpens can also be a good way to introduce them to crate training. I probably mentioned in a previous post about how crate training took a crazy turn on me and my dogs. It’s a process after all and not all pooches will love the idea of getting locked up. So this playpen, as laidback and attractive as it is, can be the primer for the hard-walled kennels and crates.
And if your dog is a pain to housebreak, the playpen can be a nice dungeon for potty training. Just don’t feed them inside since most portable indoor playpens are made of fabric. It’s going to be a whole mess of gooey kibble and water splashes.
With a door or without a door?
I honestly haven’t thought about this question before until I saw it in a dog forum. This is a matter of concern if you’re thinking about how you can pick your dog out of it or how you can remove the potty. Well, if you’re hips aren’t failing you yet, a doorless playpen with removal side panels will be excellent. But if you’re having a hard time, get one with a door.
What is the difference, you ask. A doorless playpen is best for those who want to contain their dog, much like how a kennel will work, while the one with a door will let the pet walk in and out freely. In short, it’s a matter of control on your dog’s movement.
Playpen vs. kennel vs. crate
So to settle the confusion, I’ll give some points on the difference between these three dog containments. As discussed, playpens are used for exercise, leisure, and restraint. But how does it differ with the two other containers?
In contrast, kennels are larger containments usually placed outdoors. It’s large enough to fit a person inside and where the dog can freely roam. Other pet owners consider it as a dog house where the doggo can play, sleep, eat, and poo. Take note, though, that some dog breeds aren’t suitable to be kenneled.
The term kennel is sometimes used interchangeably with crates. However, there’s a big difference. Crates are the one used when transporting your doggo or when you want him to have a sleeping pod inside your house. It has a door just like a kennel, but it’s portable and can be carried by hand. Dogs can be kenneled for long hours due to the luxury of space but doggos shouldn’t be crated for extended periods.
To put the best portable dog playpen in context here, it can also double as a crate. Some have a sturdy construction where small dogs can be transported in short distances. Take note, however, that playpens can’t be used for international and international flights. Solid crates are needed here.
Benefits of a portable playpen for dogs
Playpens are made for many purposes. Although pet owners will have varying opinions about this, I recommend that you get one for added fun and convenience. Your dog doesn’t have to know that you’re downstairs drinking wine with your friends while he rolls fondly on his new shack.
Aside from getting away from being a dog parent at times, here are some of the benefits of a dog playpen:
Indoor playpens, both fabric and metal, may come in a customizable construction. This way, you can tweak the size as needed. You can assemble it fully to give your dog enough space or skip a few panels to contain him. I suggest that you invest in a foldable and portable playpen that you can stock aside when not in use.
Do you want to get rid of your dog without being mean? Put him on the playpen. Do you want him to stop romping around? Contain him on the playpen. Are you tricking him to love the crate? Playpens are the answer.
This containment allows you to hold your dog in one place without depriving them of the sense of freedom. Some playpens have open ceilings so the dog won’t feel trapped. Still, you have to watch out for your master escapist.
If you’re such a bummer like me who skips walk days, a playpen would be a good alternative. But don’t use it regularly for such purpose. Play with your dog while he’s inside (given that you can fit in) for his dose of physical activity. If it’s raining or storming outside, the playpen will be your go-to substitute.
Less intimidating containment
Dogs aren’t always thrilled with the idea of getting locked up inside a tiny crate where they can’t even jump. A playpen will allow them to adjust on being contained without warshocking them with a tiny cage. Fill it with their favorite toys and they won’t plan to escape (in my dogs’ case, at least).
To be fair, the best portable dog playpen isn’t without some ugly parts. Here are some that I discovered based on experience:
Not the best for large dogs
If you have a large dog, say an adult Golden Retriever, an indoor playpen may not work. The doggo can leap and escape easily. If you want them to stay inside, you’ll have to purchase a taller playpen with a roof. That could be space-consuming and a bit more on the kennel side.
The material is a game-changer
If you have a chewer, it’s a big mistake to purchase a playpen made of fabric. When they get bored, the pup will chew the walls and end up escaping. If a dog can scratch and munch on a wooden door for their way out, a fabric playpen would be an easy job.
I suggest that you get a playpen fence instead, the same one I got for my Samoyed. I reviewed it below for your reference.
Yes, playpens don’t have anchors and floor locks so there’s no way you can secure it. If your dog is smart enough, he can push it until he gets to where he wants to go. My Samoyed did this when he was a pup so I used a thin rope, tie one end on the playpen fence and then the other on the foot of our table. It solved the problem for me.
Playpen essential to look for
All the essentials will depend on your dog’s size and behavior. If he’s a chewer, again, stick to wire fences although the issue here is if you have the space at home. The good thing about wire playpens is you can use it outdoors. One time, when we went fishing, we set four panels of the wire playpen by the river bank so our Samoyed will still feel part of it.
However, metal wires will rust if it’s soiled a lot. The best bet here is a plastic version.
For smaller dogs, the best portable dog playpen is one made with mesh panels. It’s easier to assemble and can be used outdoors if the weather is good. Mesh playpens have flooring material which is great since my dog can’t drag it away. Take note, though, that this is reserved for small dogs only.
Lastly, check the size. You wouldn’t want to get a low playpen only to discover your dog leaping out of it all the time. I suggest that you look for a playpen with enough space for your dog to avoid his poop if he ever dropped the bomb. It’s also a favor for you. If the doggo steps into the excrement, you’re going to deal with a whole lot of mess.
Personal dog playpen picks
Parkland Portable Pet Indoor/Outdoor Playpen
For the portable mesh playpen, I bought my dog the one from Parkland. It has 8 panels that will fold for easy storage. It’s lightweight, which is one thing I love about it. I used to put my dog inside whenever I have to do long drives or if I have to run some errands.
This is made of 600D fabric which is tough enough to withstand scratching and playful biting. The top cover can be unzipped if needed as well as the one mesh door.
My only caveat here is that the panels can’t be disassembled. It just folds and pops but it doesn’t allow you to make it smaller. Still, not a big deal for me.
Paws & Pals Exercise Fence Pen
When my Samoyed was still a pup, I bought this Paws & Pal fence pen. It has eight adjustable wire panels which are good whenever I want to save space on some occasions. Overall, this is a plain fence but the material is rust-resistant which is one thing that convinced me to purchase it.
When my dog is in play, it turns into a wrestling octagon so I have to tie thin ropes on opposite sides to keep it from sliding on the floor. This allows more space than the first playpen I listed. It can be used outdoors if you want your dog to get some sunshine without getting into trouble.
How to train your dog to get in
Playpens sound like something your pooch will love, right? But like any containment, your doggo will find it unusual, thus the crying and baying during the first days. Getting your pup to relax inside the pen will take a little more patience.
First, I recommend that you open the top cover if there’s any. This will allow your dog more sense of freedom. You may also want to start introducing the playpen with an open side. Once he gets used to it, that’s time you can lock that side up.
Like how crate training goes, be casual about it and always slow your roll. Feed your dog inside the pen and throw snacks to encourage him to go inside. No locking of doors or any sinister tricks from you, hooman.
Remember these points once you get the best portable dog playpen. No shoving inside or shouting when the pooch doesn’t want to be in. Be patient. Soon enough, they won’t like to get out of it once it’s filled with goodies and toys.