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Puppy Pen vs Crate

illustration of playpen and crate with vs in between

Yes, puppies are so cute when you bring them home. But what do you do when you gotta go to work? If you leave them out, they will lay waste to your house, right? You can get a sitter, but sometimes that’s not an option, right? That leaves you with just two choices. In this article, Puppy Pen vs Crate will do battle. (No worries. No dogs or puppies were injured)

Crate or Playpen for Puppy While at Work?

This question of ‘crate or playpen for puppy while at work depends on two important factors.

How Long Do You Plan to Be Away?

mother and child leaving home

According to the Humane Society of America, puppies are only able to hold their bladders for one hour per month of age. Therefore, if your puppy is three months old, the longest you can expect him/her to hold it would be three hours. If you are gone all day, then you will most certainly need a playpen and not a crate. Dogs naturally do not like to do their biz where they sleep, If you are not going to be gone for long, then a crate may suffice.

How Much Space Do You Have?

If you have enough space for a playpen, it is always better than a crate. Puppies need lots of space to roam around in for discovery and most importantly, play. So, if you have the space, I highly recommend using a playpen while away at work.

Please understand. That does not mean that crates are necessarily bad. In fact, in some cases they can be perfect. I will go into that later.

Are Playpens Good for Puppies?

white puppy in an playpen outside sitting next to man in a chair

Yes, by all means. A playpen can be great for a few of reasons. But be careful, having a breed like a Jack Russell Terrier inside one that has no top, is just an open invitation to jump out. Also, if you have a rambunctious type like a boxer or a lab, it could be disastrous, so make sure the playpen will survive the onslaught by being of sturdy construction. It will need it.

Keeps Them Safe

Puppies are famous for getting into all sorts of predicaments, so a playpen just makes sense. It protects them from themselves and from chowing down on something that was not meant to be a chew toy. It’s a wonderful place for your puppy to run around in and not get into trouble.

Puppies really have no boundaries, and this can really irritate older dogs, which can cause them to retaliate. So, having a playpen which separates the pup from other dogs would be a great idea if you are not around.

Room to Move

2 puppies in an outdoor playpen on grass

A playpen can be a great place for your little friend to stretch and run around in. Puppies have so much energy, so the added space will allow them the ability to get out their energy, so do not forget to add toys, lots and lots of toys.

Besides toys, you can place food and water in a playpen and not have to worry about them wearing more than they eat and drink.

Puppies need the exercise for their muscles and joints, and a playpen can help to provide that. A crate cannot.

Sometimes there will be little accidents because they are not able to control their bladders as long as older dogs, but in a playpen, they might have enough space to avoid needing another bath, if you know what I mean.

Helps to Develop Independence and Confidence

pug puppy sitting on pathway

If you crate your dog, he/she has little room to move during those times, which means all their physical activity only comes when you let them out. This can create a dog that is very dependent on you and what you are doing and causes severe stress which may come out in behavioral issues.

According to Canine Journal

A dog exercise pen also encourages your pup to develop independence and confidence. It’s important for him to learn that he doesn’t need to be attached at your hip 24/7. Puppy pens give you and your dog peace of mind.

Sally Jones


Most playpens are light and can be taken apart easily, which means you can carry them outside. These are great because your pup can enjoy the outside without you worrying about what kind of trouble they’ll get into.

Are Crates Good for Puppies

fuzzy puppy in a dog crate

Yes, they can be for a few reasons as well. But make sure they have enough room to move around. Using one which is too small for them to even turn around in, will make crate training a lot harder experience.

Potty Training

Dogs naturally do not like to do their business in close quarters or where they sleep, so a crate can be an excellent tool for teaching them about where is acceptable to do their business.

According to PetMd

There are a lot of good reasons to crate train a dog, housetraining being the main reason. Crate training is an essential part of housebreaking new puppies too. Puppies will not usually soil their bed or den. Therefore, if the crate is set up as a resting space, the puppy will wait until he leaves the crate to do his business. This will put you in control of where and when your puppy relieves himself.

A Quiet and Safe Refuge

Once your puppy understands the crate is their home, they will naturally go there to rest or escape their noise and chaos.

Easy Transportation

husky in crate with airport worker

If you are going to fly or in some cases visit a vet, your pooch will need to be crated. Without being crate trained, such events may be very stressful for them, so do it while they are pups and they will feel so much better for it.

When to Stop Using a Puppy Pen or Crate?

This is a difficult question that a lot of dog owners wander about. Yes, it seems harsh to even confine them in the first place, but we do it for their own good, and for the safety of our homes. But when do we stop? Well, that depends on your purpose in the first place.

When to Stop Crating Your Puppy?

chihuahua sitting next to dog crate

If you crated your puppy because you wanted to stop him from redecorating your floors, Cuteness suggest you stop two months after his last accident in your home, and I think that makes sense.

Two months is a long time, so if there have been no accidents in that time, than it stands to reason, he got the point. That would be a great time to stop.

If you crated your dog to protect your home, it really depends on the breed and the dog’s personality. Can your dog be trusted not to lay waste to the garbage can while you sleep? That is something you need to figure out, and that can only come by observing his behavior.

Please remember, it may be a good idea to leave the crate out if you can trust him. Just leave the door open so he can come and go as he pleases. This way, your dog always has a home and he will be easy to transport.

When to Stop Playpenning Your Puppy?

large brown and black puppy in outdoor playpen

Yeah, okay, “playpenning” might not be a word, but you know what I mean. The answer to this question, once again depends on your dog.

Can you trust them when you are away? If so, then you don’t need a playpen anymore. Your dog will never miss it, not like he will the crate.

Crates are good because they give your dog a sense of a den, which is in his natural instincts. Playpens are mere open barriers that prevent his movement. So, get rid of it if you don’t need it.

The Bottom Line on Puppy Pen vs Crate

In the battle of Puppy Pen vs Crate, neither side is the loser, because both have useful purposes. Neither should be too small for movement or used as a punishment tool. You want them to love them and look at them as their homes, so use them for teaching and relaxation. Study construction is always a necessity.

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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