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Leaving a Puppy in a Playpen While at Work – Is it a Good Idea?

Boundless energy, teeny-tiny bladders, and sharp little teeth. Puppies are adorable and can be destructive if left alone for long periods of time. We all want well trained dogs that are good companions. That means that deciding what to do with a puppy while working is a big deal.

So… is it a good idea to leave your puppy in a playpen while at work? Dealing with what to do with their puppy while they are out of the house one of the most common questions that nearly all new dog parents ask.

Raising a puppy while working full time is not impossible, but it does require determination and effort. 

Just like human babies, puppies do need a lot of attention, frequent meals, and proper potty training. All these things require a considerable amount of your time which can become quite difficult if you are working 40 hours a week. A puppy playpen can prove extremely useful in raising a well-behaved dog but you need to keep your cool. 

What is a Puppy Playpen?

Puppy in a puppy playpen on AstroTurf

A puppy (or pet) playpen is made from 6-8 hinged panels that form a closed ring. This gives your pet a private space in a semi-supervised environment where he/she can play safely. In addition to that, it also helps the puppy to learn self-control. 

Playpens are pretty similar to dog crates (with more space) and are generally made from steel wire or plastic. You can find several sizes of playpen in the market. You should ALWAYS choose the one that’s most comfortable for your puppy. 

Different Types of Puppy Playpens

puppy outside in metal puppy playpen with toys

The selection of an ideal playpen is dependent on a number of factors. For instance, you must consider the size and nature of your pet before buying a playpen. Once you are clear about what you want, you need to know what your options are.

You can find many of the best puppy playpens on Amazon by clicking here.

Pros of Using a Puppy Playpen

puppy peering over a wooden board

Safe Confinement

The first and most obvious benefit of a playpen is that it keeps your puppy safe in your absence. Simultaneously, it prevents your pet from developing some bad habits. Given the fact that dogs like to explore the world by using their teeth, puppies can chew on a lot of precious things like shoes. Similarly, it is a perfect place for your puppy to recover after a surgery or illness. 

More Space

Secondly, playpens serve as a perfect alternative for crates to house train your dog. They are much more comfortable and entertaining for the pet due to more space. Alongside food and water, you can place the favorite toy of your puppy inside the playpen to keep him/her engaged. 


Playpens are usually light-weighted structures that can be used while traveling. Likewise, they are easy-to-install which makes them even more feasible for outdoor ventures. 

Cons of Using a Puppy Playpen

Golden retriever puppy staring into camera while standing on pile of newspapers

Despite all the benefits of a playpen, leaving your puppy in it for an entire day is not right (it is explained below). Other than that, some other cons of using a playpen are described below.

Not an Ideal Start

Although playpen is an incredible tool to house-train your dog, you shouldn’t start the process with it. Ample amount of space is not ideal for a puppy in its early days. This is because the dog finds it hard to distinguish between his bed and bathroom. As a result, your efforts for potty training are affected. 

Not Suitable for Large Dogs

The portability of playpens makes them vulnerable to large breed dogs. An energetic puppy who has grown tall enough can jump out of his/her playpen. In these cases, you should consider using a dog kennel to achieve the desired results. 

How Long can you Leave a Puppy Alone?

pug staring out of window

Leaving your puppy alone for longer periods of time is always a troublesome issue. The age of the pet plays an important role in determining the exact time limit for your dog. Likewise, the stage of potty training practices is also equally important. Some of the general guidelines that may prove beneficial for dog parents are discussed below.

8-10 Week Old Puppy

When a puppy arrives at your place for the first time, he/she is in a totally strange surrounding. For this reason, they need a lot of your companionship to feel at home. During this duration, you should try to spend maximum time with your pet. 

If you are working full time, this option is not very viable for you. In this case, you should look for someone who can provide quality daycare services. For instance, the puppy needs to be taken to the toilet regularly at this age. Leaving a puppy alone for too long, in this phase, can make him seriously distressed. 

10-12 Week Old Puppy

Despite the fact that your puppy’s ability to control is increasing, it cannot hold for 4 hours (lunch-time break). Therefore, you will need to arrange someone to take care of his/her bathroom needs. According to an estimate, a puppy of that age cannot last longer than 2 hours. Having said that, this figure may vary on the basis of your dog’s breed, health, and size. 

3-6 Month Old Puppy

Generally, a puppy of this age can control for at least 3 hours. The famous ‘One Hour per Month’ rule becomes applicable in this period. So, a three-month puppy will hold himself for 3 hours and his ability to control will increase with age. In this phase, you can visit your puppy in the lunch break to avoid any accidents. 

More than 6 Month Old Puppy

chihuahua with head down on paws laying on a table

At this age, a dog attains the status of an adult and can control for up to 6 hours. Although this does give you some leverage, the dogs of this age can leap out of their playpen.

At this stage, you must be on a higher level of house training to ensure the safety of your dog. Similarly, a bored dog of this age can destroy a lot of your valuables (decoration pieces electronics and anything else she can get her mouth on.).

Feel that a puppy playpen isn’t the right fit for your dog? Give one of these DIY Pet Barriers a try!

Challenges of Potty Training a Puppy

Jack Russell puppy laying on green carpet next to wet spot

Potty training a puppy is a whole lot difficult than it looks. This time-consuming procedure requires a lot of your time and patience to yield the ideal results. In addition to that, you need to ensure constant supervision (during the training) to enhance your chances of success. If you are working full time, you may face a number of challenges while potty training your puppy. Some of these difficulties are listed below. 

Too Much Space in the Playpen

It is general information that dogs don’t wee in or near their bed. Despite that, you may find your puppy relaxing his/her bladder inside the playpen. This could be happening because of the size of the playpen. Selecting a large home for your pet could lead to this problem. Therefore, choose carefully. 

Keep the Puppy in the Playpen for too Long

Just like the first challenge, exceeding anything beyond its limit is troublesome. While teaching your puppy to hold a little longer, you can cross the physical limits of your pet. Hence, the dog may wet his/her bed to relieve the burden. 

Massive Gaps Between Bathroom Breaks

Puppy with head laying on paws

Puppies have incredibly small bladders and can’t control much either. Consequently, you need to take them for a wee regularly to prevent an unwanted incident. You need to have an exact idea about the time your puppy can wait to achieve ultimate success.

Ineffective Clearing 

Dogs have a powerful sense of smell and they use that to find the places where they peed before. Due to their natural instinct, puppies tend to pee again in those spots. That’s one of the reasons why a trained puppy always wees in the designated place. 

However, this rule works in all cases and the dog can also pee indoors on the site of an ‘accident’. For this reason, you need to make sure that you clear everything properly after an accident. You might not be able to detect the smell but it cannot escape the grasp of a dog. 

The Bottom Line on Leaving a Puppy in a Playpen While at Work

group of puppies outside in a puppy playpen lying down

Playpens can help keep a puppy contained while you are at work, but because small puppies have tiny bladders they are still likely to pee in their playpen.

If you have a puppy, and need to work then you may want to hire a dog sitter or take him to a doggy day care for the first 6 to 9 months o his life. This will allow him to out frequently enough for his small bladder.

Puppy playpens are useful tools, but they don’t replace the need to let a small puppy outside frequently.

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