If you ever need to leave your dog alone indoors for more than a few minutes, it’s a good idea to invest in a playpen. A dog pen gives your furry friend room to run and play while keeping it away from fragile or dangerous things in your home.
With a great playpen, you can get your dog set up inside with some toys and treats and then walk away to get some work done or finally relax, without making your beloved pet uncomfortable or bored.
To help you make the best decision possible when shopping for an indoor dog pen, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you.
Here are the best dog pens on the market today.
Best Overall Pen: MidWest Homes for Pets Folding Metal Exercise Pen
The best overall dog pen goes to the MidWest Homes for Pets Folding Metal Exercise Pen.
This pen excels where others fall short. Durability, versatility, security—these are what bring this MidWest Homes for Pets product to the front of the pack.
A double-latch, step-through door prevents your pet from shaking or scratching its way to freedom while making it easy for you to step inside to clean up or play.
On the standard pen, each panel is 24 inches wide by 24 inches high. Depending on the size of your pet, you can get the same design but with larger panels, all the way up to 48 by 48 inches. The total area inside the pen is 16 square feet.
For outdoor use, the pen comes with 8 super-secure ground anchors to keep things in place. And for indoor use, you can use the 8 corner stabilizers and 4 thumb snaps. When the pen is broken down, it is incredibly portable, and when it comes time to put it back together, assembly is quick and easy.
MidWest makes this pen in several colors: blue, black, gold, and pink. Attachable tops are available for jump-happy pets.
- Can be attached to a crate
- Perfect for indoor and outdoor use
- Comes in several colors
- The door can pop open when shaken vigorously
Extra Large Dog Play Pen: BestPet Extra Large Dog Pen
If you want your pet to have the largest play area possible, you should go with the BestPet Extra Large Pen.
This huge, adjustable pen comes with your choice of eight or 16 panels, with different panel heights to suit your dog. Both of these pen sizes allow for loads of customization and offer the largest play area around.
Set your pen up in a square, rectangle, or octagon to fit your home perfectly. Best of all, installing your pen is quick, easy, and requires no tools at all.
BestPet’s Extra Large Pen is great for the outdoors as well as indoors. You can take the pen out of your living room and bring it out to the yard or campsite without fear of rusting.
- Largest dog pen on the market
- Indoor/outdoor design
- Can be built into multiple configurations
- Paint has been known to chip when handled improperly
Playpen For Puppies: IRIS USA, Inc. Pet Playpen
Our choice for the best pen for puppies is the IRIS USA Pet Playpen.
Believe it or not, pens made for adult dogs may not always be suitable for puppies. Small details like the door height or the space between the bars can make getting in or out of the pen difficult, or make the entire pen downright dangerous.
This pen is designed specifically with puppies in mind. Quite uniquely, the IRIS pen is made of plastic, a material too light for many larger dogs but much safer and more suitable for puppies. I’d go as far as to say that this pen is the best option out there for adult toy breeds as well as puppies of all breeds.
The pen is a cozy eight square feet inside. It is made up of four thick and durable molded plastic panels. IRIS makes this product in the USA—it is a strong and well-made product that will last for years.
You can purchase this pen in white or black. Add-on panels to create a larger space are available from the manufacturer.
- Safer for puppies and toy breeds
- Durable molded plastic panels
- Turn-style locks on the door close securely
- Made in the USA
- Large dogs may be able to jump out
Most Adjustable Dog Pen: Regalo 192-Inch Super Wide Adjustable Gate
If you are looking for a pen that is large, versatile, and super-adjustable, the Regalo Super Wide pen is for you.
You can convert this product from a pen to a wide gate without any tools. It is made up of eight, 28-inch tall panels with a walk-through door. A four-pack of wall mounts can be used to add extra stability and security. The pen is made entirely of steel.
The Regalo pen is made for babies and pets alike. As you know, anything made for babies or young children is held to a higher standard of quality and safety, making this product incredibly secure and reliable.
- Can be used as a gate or pen
- Made for pets and babies
- Durable steel panels
- Highly adjustable and versatile
- Replacement parts are expensive
Portable / Folding Dog Pen: Zampa Portable Foldable Pen
For those who travel with their pet or need to move them around frequently, the best pen is a portable one. Our pick for the best foldable and portable pen is the Zampa Pet Playpen.
This pen is made of durable and water-resistant soft materials that make it incredibly light and flexible while still maintaining its structure. On the eight soft panels, you will find reinforced stitching, exterior side pockets, and even a bottle holder.
There is enough room for your pet to play around without sacrificing a cozy, den-like feel. When it’s time to head out, simply fold up your pet’s pen and slide it into the included carrying case. This is hands-down, the most portable dog pen around.
- Lightweight, water-resistant materials
- Foldable design
- Carrying case included
- Side pockets and bottle holder
- It may be too small for very large breeds
The Complete Buyer’s Guide for Indoor Dog Pens
There are many things to consider when buying a dog pen. The sheer number of options and variables can make your shopping experience stressful and overwhelming.
The best plan of attack is to first consider what you need out of a dog pen. We have broken down the most important factors so you can figure out exactly what you need before you make a purchase.
What will you use it for?
Some shoppers are in the market for a pen for their Great Dane, others for their Shih Tzu. Some of you may want a cat-friendly pen, and others want one that works for kids and dogs.
The first step is to decide what you specifically want to do with the pen.
Will it be used exclusively indoors or will you bring it out for a cookout or camping trip? Is your dream pen going to give your pooch a place to play for an hour or will it be its stomping ground the whole workday?
Depending on how you answer these questions, you can eliminate or qualify a great number of products.
Naturally, bigger dogs need more space, outdoor pens should be made of rust-resistant durable materials, and all-day enclosures should be able to attach to a crate. Use these facts as a starting point to make your pet pen decision.
Believe it or not, there’s a lot that goes into a pet pen.
While some of us may be content with a bare-bones enclosure, others prefer some extra features to keep our pets extra safe or extra satisfied.
Important features to consider are attachable roofs, additional panels, carrying cases, ground anchors, and color options.
Decide what is right for your pup from the get-go to make finding your perfect pet pen a breeze.
Arguably the most important thing to consider is what size enclosure your dog needs to be comfortable.
Big dogs need more space to roam and play. Athletic dogs and ones that love to jump will need a taller pen or one with a roof. Most pens come with different height options that can accommodate nearly any breed.
While most of us opt for the largest possible pen that we can fit in our home, depending on your dog’s personality and unique needs, a tighter and cozier pen may be in order.
You can refer to each dog pen’s Amazon product page for info on what size is right for your dog directly from the manufacturer.
Storability and Portability
If you will need to frequently pack up your dog’s pen for storage or transport, make sure you get a foldable, portable product.
While most of these dog pens can be easily broken down and reassembled, some manufacturers go the extra mile to make their pens super convenient to carry.
When it comes to transport and storage, smaller is better. If you can find a product that’s specifically designed for easy assembly or one that comes with a carrying case, choose that as long as your other needs have been met.
For the most storable and portable product, we recommend the Zampa Portable Foldable Pet Playpen. This soft-bodied playpen is the perfect pick for frequent travelers or those who need to frequently pack away their doggy goods when company comes over.
The material of your pen can be one of the most important decisions you make. Some materials will rust outdoors, others may get moldy when wet, and others will be flexible enough for tight storage.
It goes without saying that if you want an indoor/outdoor pen you need to get stainless steel, coated steel, or a plastic pen that is weather-proof and built to last. Look for products that specifically advertise the fact that they are for outdoor use.
On the other hand, indoor pens are far more forgiving. A greater variety of materials can stay in great shape indoors, including soft materials like cloth, foam, and nylon.
Along with water resistance and durability, the materials also define the pen’s weight. Plastic and soft-bodied pens are usually going to be the lightest and most portable ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
How big should a dog pen be?
For an indoor pen, your dog should be able to lie down, stand up, and run around inside their pen at a minimum. However, you don’t want your dog to have too much space unless they are incredibly well trained.
This is because dogs are reluctant to do their business in a crate or small space, but given enough space, they will do their business in one corner and then spend their time in the other corner. A good way to deter your dog from going to the bathroom in their pen is to get a pen that is just the right size, not too big, not too small.
If, on the other hand, your dog is trained to wait until you bring them outside to use the bathroom, or you will only be leaving them in their pen for a short time, you can opt for an enclosure with more space for them to run and play.
Is it OK to leave your dog in a playpen?
Yes. If you have the correct size playpen and you ensure that the dog has plenty of stimulation, food, and water, you can leave your dog in a playpen for hours if needed.
If you plan on leaving your dog in a pen for an extended period, they must be very comfortable with the setup beforehand. If you plan on, let’s say, leaving your dog in a playpen while you go to work, it may be a good idea to attach a crate to their playpen.
While a playpen is great for stretching, playing, and letting off some excess energy, dogs have an instinct to seek a cozy, more protected space, like a den. With the combination of a play area and a crate, your dog can feel occupied and safe for hours if need be.
However, dogs with separation anxiety shouldn’t be left alone for too long.
How do you secure an indoor dog pen?
You can secure an indoor pen by placing it against a wall or in a corner to prevent it from sliding in those directions. Going a step further, with your walls securing one or two sides, you can use a heavy piece of furniture to secure the others.
Of course, this all depends on the size of your dog and just how rowdy they are.
Alternatively, you can tie a pen to a solid fixture like the leg of a couch or a banister to keep it from sliding or tipping over.
For a simple method of securing your pen, for dogs that don’t push too much, you can simply attach rubber feet or pads to the bottom of your pen to keep it from sliding across the carpet, tile, or hardwood floor.
Some dog owners even go as far as to bolt or zip tie their dog’s pen to a wooden base for an incredibly secure fit. This isn’t necessary for most, and will compromise the portability of your pen, but can be a great solution for some.
Finally, if you need to secure your dog’s playpen outdoors, you can use stakes to pin the cage into the dirt. Many outdoor pens come with stakes that can be easily tapped in and removed again and again.
Is a playpen better than a crate?
A playpen and a crate are used for entirely different purposes. One can’t truly replace the other.
Both crates and playpens are essential tools that can keep your pooch out of trouble while keeping them comfortable.
A playpen is used to give your dog room to move around, run, and play with toys while restricting their movement to a safe space. While this is essential if you plan on leaving your dog in an enclosure for an extended period, it doesn’t satisfy your dog’s instinct to seek a den.
That’s where the crate comes in. A crate is a smaller enclosure, and while it doesn’t allow for as much freedom of movement, it gives your dog a sense of security, homeyness, and ownership. Many dogs will never truly be able to settle down and relax without a cozy place to call their own.
Some dogs love to den, others don’t, and it all comes down to training. If you notice your dog resting under the bed, behind the couch, or in another tight, protected area, your dog needs a den in their enclosure to feel safe. This is when the crate shines.
Most dogs don’t like playing or resting near their waste. For this reason, a dog will seldom do its business in its crate. If your dog ends up going to the bathroom in its playpen, it may feel uncomfortable for the rest of its session. If you have a crate attached or have an extra-large pen, it can retreat to the comfort of its den and feel comfortable even with the mess nearby.
Having made that clear, proper use of a crate and comfort with it comes with crate training. If you don’t show your dog that a crate is a great place to be with lots of positive reinforcement, it may never take to it.
But once your dog learns to use both its playpen and crate properly, it will feel satisfied and safe even when you go away for hours.