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Dogs are some of the most unique, energetic, funny, and entertaining creatures in the world. If humans had half the energy that dogs do, we’d all get twice as much done throughout the day. But such active and playful animals need a way to release their energy while also staying safe and avoiding the possible hazards that come with playtime. Especially when your dog is a puppy, he needs a structured environment to play in, and a decent dog playpen offers just that.

Most of us are used to the fact that playpens are usually suitable for human babies and toddlers, but the same is true for canines. Playpens for pets come in a variety of sizes and they are great for dogs of any breed or age.

Dog playpens can be used both outdoors or indoors, and there are specific models for every situation. Pet pens are a great way to contain your canines in one area when you can't supervise what they're up to.

Some well trained dogs can be left alone for short periods of time, but that's not the case for every Fido. If your dog gets himself into mischief when your back is turned, you may want to consider a pet playpen to keep him in an enclosed and safe area while you're tending to other things.

Why You Need a Dog Playpen
Photo: Pet Trex

There are many other benefits to having a dog playpen too. They're great for traveling, camping, or simply giving your dog a safe place to sleep at night.

Below I'll give you a quick rundown of the benefits of doggy playpens and then share the most popular pet pen models based on consumer reviews.

Why You Should Consider a Playpen for Dogs

You should buy a dog playpen for the same reason you would buy one for your toddler: safety. Most pet owners have their dogs’ best interest at heart, and that best interest centers on safety. However, despite the limitations of extra security measures, dogs still should be able to be comfortable in their pen.

RELATED: 2015 Top 5 Best Playpens for Dogs

Dogs don’t always like to be cooped up in a cage or room without any of their toys or space to play. Be sure to consider the size of your pet while shopping for a playpen. He should have plenty of room to move about and be active. A playpen is not a crate, thus it should be more spacious and enjoyable for your dog.

While crates are great for bedtime and travel, they’re often unable to provide enough freedom for your dog to still have fun. You cannot just leave your dog in a playpen with nothing to entertain himself. He should have water and a few toys at minimum. You may also want to include a dog bed or blanket, dog food, or a treat filled toy like a KONG.

If you buy your dog a playpen, you can feel at ease when you leave him alone during playtime. Common household dangers for dogs are vast, as dogs get into just about everything, including household chemicals, sharp objects, electric outlets, and more. By putting your dog inside a playpen, you’re able to move around the house with the confidence that your beloved pet is safe and sound.

Why Your Dog Needs a Playpen
Photo: AlishaV

Types of dog playpens

There are many different types of playpens for dogs, depending on what material they are made out of. They can be made from plastic, metal, wood, or any other durable and resistant material. You can also purchase fully-enclosed cloth playpens.

A playpen can also come in the form of a gate, which you can use to bar a doorway or entrance to a certain room. For example, you may want to let your dog out to stretch his legs, but might have a specific interest in keeping him out of the kitchen (perhaps you’re cooking a big meal or cleaning the floor). By putting up a gate in front of the doorway, your dog can still roam the area that you want him to be in without coming into the kitchen and making a mess.

RELATED: Playtime Protectors – Dog Playpens or Pet Gates?

You'll want to think about the area that you'll be using your playpen before you settle on a material. Plastic playpens tend to cost less than wooden or metal pens, but you shouldn't make your purchase based solely on cost. Wooden and metal playpens won't hold up as well outside as they will be effected by the elements, but plastic playpens may not fit the décor of your home.

You should also think about the size and activity level of your pet before making your purchase. Lightweight plastic playpens may work well for dogs that don't jump up or try to escape, but they won't contain a rambunctious pup that will easily tip the pen over. The same can be said for cloth playpens. They would work well for a dog that wouldn't try to chew or escape, but they could be easily torn by a dog that really wanted to get out.

Why You Need a Dog Playpen
Photo: Yaheetech

With all the products out on the market today (dog products are especially numerous), you may feel overwhelmed by all your different playpen options. Below, we will give you a detailed overview of several doggy playpens that have been vetted and tried out by dog owners all across America.

Consumer reviews are one of the best things to rely on when it comes to checking out a product before purchasing, because consumers have no advertising angle or incentive to mislead. So, here are the top dog playpens and a little bit about their advantages and disadvantages. They go in no particular order; all three are great. The “best” playpen will depend on the type of dog you have and how much room he needs to play.

Below I'll list top 5 most popular pet playpens for dogs and point out a few that stood out to me when researching these dog products. All of these have been highly praised by dog owners, which is the primary reason I singled them out. Enjoy!

Top 5 best selling dog playpens on Amazon:

  1. IRIS Indoor/Outdoor Plastic Pet Pen with 4 Panels
  2. Midwest Exercise Pen
  3. OxGord® 48″ Pet Cage Pop up Playpen Cat / Dog
  4. Prevue Pet Products Small Animal Exercise Play Pen
  5. Pet Trex Playpen with High Panels

* The above top 5 picks for most popular dog playpens are based on Amazon’s Best Seller rankings [August, 2015].

North States Color Superyard Portable Play Yard

The first of the three best reviewed dog playpens is the North States Color Superyard Portable Play Yard. It is well-reviewed by many dog owners for several reasons, not the least of which being its resilience. This playpen (which comes in a rainbow of colors) is designed for outdoor and indoor use, meaning that your dog has a larger range of opportunity when it comes to exercising.

Just as important, the North States Superyard Portable Play Yard is easy to put together, something that every dog owner can appreciate—no more wasting time trying to put an impossible piece of equipment together for a purpose that slowly begins to elude you the longer you work.

You dismantle and put together the playpen by connecting the panels together. They are connected beforehand, making the assembly as simple as putting together a six-piece puzzle. The 6-panel pen encloses up to 18.5 square feet and is 26 inches high.

The gate on this playpen opens easily, so if you need to get in there for any reason, your access isn’t barred. Lastly, despite having six panels, the playpen is reasonably lightweight—it is made out of a durable plastic that is easy to clean. Convenience and quality are the top factors when it comes to reasons to purchase this playpen.

RELATED: How to Choose Dog Gates and Playpens for Dogs

Possible disadvantages have to do with the size of this playpen. If you have a very large dog (think St. Bernard-sized), this playpen may be too small, but for a medium or small sized dog, it will work nicely.

Zampa Pet Playpen

The second top playpen is the Zampa Pet Playpen. This playpen looks a little like a camping tent because it is made of a water-resistant material and has mesh sections that keep the playpen from seeming too enclosed.

This playpen is circular, with a 45-inch diameter and a 24-inch height, making it suitable for any size dog. Because of its light material, the playpen only weighs six pounds. It fold flat and comes with a free carrying case.

The Zampa Pet Playpen has reinforced corners to prevent your dog from ripping a hole through them and dismantling the entire pen. The playpen has a zip-off top panel that can be taken on or off, depending on the dog and the situation. Because it can be covered at the top, it could be a good place for naptime, especially for puppies. This playpen also transports well because it is collapsible and when not collapsed, it has extra storage space in the form of large side pockets.

IRIS indoor/outdoor plastic pet pen

The third playpen is the IRIS Indoor/Outdoor Plastic Pet Pen. This playpen has four interlocking panels and is made from easy-to-wash, commercial grade plastic. There is a mesh roof option, but that is sold separately.

The IRIS pen is suitable for medium or small-sized dogs, as its dimensions are 35.2 x 35.2 x 23.6 inches. In terms of disadvantages, the pen really only has one (other than the size constraints)—it is slightly difficult to put together.

Many consumers stated that the locking system is a bit tricky—double steel door latches—but if you read the directions carefully, you should do fine. The IRIS pen is extremely secure, however, so the extra effort is worth it.

Remember that this is just a guide for buying playpens and we don't recommend these in any way. This information simply comes from a compilation of reviews from consumers who have purchased and used these products. Overall, all three of these pet playpens are excellent products, but remember that there are many more out there.

Keep your dog's size and energy level in mind when you're shopping for a playpen and you should be fine. Decide where you'll use your playpen most and buy one based on your needs and the needs of your dog. When your dog is safely contained and playing happily, you'll know it was worth the trip to the pet store.

Featured photo courtesy of IRIS USA Inc. via Amazon