A dog playpen is an enclosed fencing or some other material that you can set up outside or in to give your dog an area where they can play around a little under minimum supervision. They are not a substitute for a dog crate which is a cage where the dog goes to sleep and unsupervised when you the owner cannot be at home. Dogs are den dwelling animals and get used to a crate easily and quickly. Dog crates are made for all sizes of dogs. Dog playpens are made for small dogs and possibly smaller pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks, etc.
First the wire dog playpen which is made similar to the wire crates with steel wire being spot wielded together. They are either square or hexagonal (eight side) and some can be connected to a crate. Some have tops you can put on them for both protection and shade. These are very sturdy and can last through a lot of puppies or dogs.
Also there are soft sided pop up playpens. These are waterproof for easy clean up and are designed in the hexagonal pattern. These in particularly are made for toy breeds.
So what are these dog playpens good for other than giving the dog or puppy some outdoor time while you vacuum or something else? The wire ones are very good for training. You can have a small area to work with your dog or you will have their attention, there will be fewer distractions and you can concentrate on the dog training at hand. We have a large fenced in back yard and a command is always interrupted by a new stick that fell out of a tree or a squirrel.
Exercise and fun are other benefits for you and your dog. You can play with puppy toys or stand outside of the playpen with toy on a rope dragging it around to get some good interaction with your puppy.
The portability is another great feature of these playpens. The wire ones basically snap together and setup quickly. The soft ones are one piece that pops up almost instantly. Most of the crates of both kinds can be anchored outside with stakes for greater stability.
Although these are made pretty specifically for toy breeds and small pets you can use them with a puppy for training successfully. Do not leave a puppy unattended in these play pens. If you’re outside a little water in there with them is essential. Playpens should not be used for any extensive period of time. Dog crates are much better suited for three to four hour stints. Dog playpens can be a very good tool to supplement your dog’s daily exercise regime. They should be used for fun and training along with regular walks.