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Playpens vs Crates – Which One is Better for Your Dog?

closeup of pitbull in dog crate

So, you just got a new dog, and you have to go to work. Or your little buddy has laid waste to your home, and you need to be able to stop that from happening again. I bet you’re wondering what to do… Well, if you cannot get a dog-sitter, your next best options are one of the two. Playpens vs crates. Which are better?

Playpens vs Crates While at Work

Both are ideal for keeping your rambunctious dog from laying waste to the house and protecting them from themselves. But there are a few things to consider before buying a crate or a playpen. Let’s break them down by Advantages and Disadvantages.

Advantages of Playpens

Playpens for dogs provide you with flexible layout and size options. They are also generally larger than crates therefore, your dog will have…

  • More room to move.
  • More space for toys to play with.
  • A dining area.
  • Adequate sleeping space.
  • Space away from accidents, should they happen. (wrinkles nose)

Disadvantages of Playpens

Pug in playpen with toys indoors

Yes, despite all that room to move which playpens can provide, there are disadvantages.

  • Playpens generally require much more space then crates. So, if you live in a small apartment, they might take up too much space.
  • Stability. Rambunctious dogs, like Boxers can and will knock over playpens and this can be disastrous for your home and for your dog.
  • Dogs like Jack Russell Terriers, which science now understands, have springs in their feet, tend to view the fence as a challenge which absolutely MUST be accepted. One good jump and your belongings are toast and your cat will not come off the refrigerator.
  • Larger breeds may also try to jump or just get over the playpen . Once again, there goes the house and your cat.
  • Dogs do not like to do their business where they sleep. So, if there is too much space, they may relieve themselves if they are not trained well enough. (wrinkles nose) Grab some cleaner and some tissue paper.
  • In the wild, dogs have dens. These are confined areas where they can feel safe. Since a playpen is open, or surrounded by fencing bars, Pet Crates Direct suggests that your dog will never associate it as their own little safe place to eat, sleep in and may use the bathroom in it.

Is it possible to teach them not to jump out of their playpens? Well, maybe. But as the old saying goes, “When the cat’s away, the mice will play” except when the dog has broken out and chased poor kitty up the refrigerator because you put him in a playpen.

Advantages of Crates

Maltese in dog crate on backseat of car

For your house and belongings, oh and kitty, there are three words which come to mind; Containment, containment, containment. Since your Jack Russell Terrier will not be competing in the doggy olympics and your boxer or lab will not be knocking it down, a crate may be the way to go. There are other reasons as well.

What the Humane Society of the United States says about Crates:

A wild dog’s den is their home—a place to sleep, hide from danger and raise a family. The crate becomes your dog’s den, where they can find comfort and solitude while you know they’re safe and secure (and not shredding your house while you’re out running errands).

The Humane Society of the United States
  • Crates can provide dogs with safety and security, both mentally and physically.
  • Crates can be a great place for your dog to chill when they are tired.
  • Crates can help with potty training. Dogs do not like to do their business where they have to sleep, so they may hold it longer than when in a playpens.
  • If you and your dog travel a lot, they will be used to being crated, and that will be of more comfort to them.
  • Your kitty will have free range of the house. (Mocking your dog may become a favorite pastime.) Actually, I guess for your dog, a crate would be a disadvantage in this case.

Disadvantages of Crates

brown and white dog with blue eyes on a red dog bed in a dog crate

The disadvantages really depends on who you ask. But the most common disadvantages sited for crates are;

  • Crates are to restrictive and can cause stress and behavioral issues.
  • Crates can cause deterioration in physical health (especially if used for too long).

According to Peta:

Studies have shown that long-term confinement is detrimental to the physical and psychological well-being of animals. Animals caged for extended periods can develop many different disorders, including the following:

  • Aggression
  • Withdrawal
  • Hyperactivity
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive licking
  • Separation anxiety
  • Inability to bond with humans
  • Muscle atrophy


The Bottom Line on Playpens vs Crates

top view of a Corgi in an indoor playpen with bed and toys

It really depends on the size of space you can provide. A good playpen can provide your dog with lots of room to move, play, eat and provides space in case of any accidents. However, if unstable, too short or if you have a jumper or clumsy dog, it could be disastrous. Crates on the other hand can be great for providing that safe space your dog needs at home and for travel. But being confined too long can be very unhealthy for your dog.

There are two online video based training courses that I recommend.

  1. Doggy Dan – The Online Dog Trainer
  2. Brain Training for Dogs

These two courses serve two very different purposes. The Doggy Dan course is the best behavioral training course that I’ve ever used. It tackles problem behaviors like barking in ways that are innovative and kind and most of all WORK.

The Brain Training for Dogs course is a course that will help give curious and bored dogs something to do so that they don’t get destructive. Bored dogs often behave badly. The games in this course are fun to play with your dog and they go from easy to very advanced. If you think your dog is barking out of boredom this video course is a good choice.

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