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All About Dog Exercise Pens

Petmate Academy

December 10, 2021

Having an energetic dog or puppy can be all fun and games … until they get into something they shouldn't, whether that be your nice clothes, your food, or important papers. No pet owner wants to be angry with their dog or have any of their items destroyed due to their pup's desire to play or stoke instinct.

So, what can you do? Dog exercise pens, or playpens, are a great option to consider.


A dog exercise pen, also called a playpen, is similar to a playpen designed for small children. It is a portable fence that you can set up to provide your dog with an enclosed space for them to run around and play. Exercise pens can be constructed out of a variety of materials, from cloth to mesh to heavy-duty metal. They come in a variety of different sizes and some are designed for indoor use while others work better outside. When it comes to sizing, exercise pens do not get larger, but instead, the height of each panel gets taller. So, the size your purchase should depend on the height of your dog as well as where you plan to use it.


Is an exercise pen necessary for your dog? If you're wondering whether you should invest in one, here are some of the top benefits that an exercise pen offers:

  • It can help meet a dog's exercise needs: It's important that your dog gets enough exercise each day. Too much time sitting around without proper stimulation can lead to behavioral problems and could put them at risk of becoming overweight. How exactly does a playpen help with exercise? While it doesn't replace a daily walk, it does provide your pup with a space where they can safely run, play, and burn off any extra energy they may have.
  • It allows dogs to safely stay contained while spending time outside: Outside time is important to your dog's well-being. It keeps them mentally stimulated and allows them to get fresh air and vitamin D from the sun. However, the downside of letting your dog outside is that they may get into areas they shouldn't, such as your garden or landscaping where they may be tempted to dig. An exercise pen will provide them with a contained area where they can enjoy being out in nature while staying away from things you don't want them getting into. However, you want to make sure you get a pen that is the proper size. Larger breeds may be able to jump over a pen that is too short.


a large German Shephard safely contained in a dog exercise pen by a pool


  • They are great for puppies: Last but not least, dog playpens are great for puppies. Most puppies are full of energy, and a pen allows them a safe space to run around while keeping them confined to one area. It also can be used for "puppy proofing" while you're house training your dog. It will offer your pup a decent amount of space to play without them chewing up your shoes or having accidents all over the house.


What's the difference between an exercise pen and a crate? Is one better than the other?

The main difference between a crate and an exercise pen is that exercise pens offer more room than crates. It provides more space for toys, your dog's bed, their food and water dish, and any other items that they may need.

However, it's important to note that it can be more difficult to potty train a puppy by using a playpen than with using a crate, especially if that is where they are sleeping. Dogs are less likely to soil their sleeping area, and a pen can give them more space to go potty in a spot where they shouldn't.

Because a pen offers more space, though, it can be a better option for leaving your pet confined for long periods of time. They will have more room to play and explore without getting bored. Crates are easier for quickly and conveniently confining your pup for a short period of time, such as while you're cooking dinner. Remember that you should never crate your dog for longer than 4 hours at a time, except during bedtime. Just be sure you let him or her out first thing in the morning.

With that said, crate training is always recommended and something you should prioritize with a young puppy. However, dog exercise pens are still useful for playtime or times when you may need to restrict your puppy's access to certain areas of the house or yard or when they need to be confined for longer periods of time.

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