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5 DIY Creative Playpens for Dogs (With Instructions)

Written by: Kerry-Ann Kerr

Last Updated on May 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog inside his white playpen

5 DIY Creative Playpens for Dogs (With Instructions)


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Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Having a safe place for your dog to play is important, especially when you can’t always be around to supervise them. One of the most common solutions to this problem is a dog pen. The problem is that commercial dog pens can be pricey, especially if you have a giant breed. If you’re confined by budget and space, your choices are also more limited, and you might buy something that doesn’t fit your specific needs, which is just a waste of money.

The best way to solve these issues is to build your own DIY dog playpen! We found five plans to get you started.

The 5 DIY Playpens for Dogs

1. Customizable Puppy Pen by Making It Work

Materials: PVC pipe, PVC Ts, PVC elbows, PVC outlet, PVC couplings, vinyl, lumber, drywall screws, galvanized L brackets
Skill level: Intermediate
Other tools needed: Drill

This is an indoor pen that’s sturdy, customizable, and removable. In the example, there’s a gate, which makes it easy to access because those high sides would have you struggling. It’s used as a puppy pen here, but since it’s versatile and can be changed to suit your needs, it can be constructed for any breed!

2. Rottiepawz’s Temporary Playpen

Materials: Storage cubes, cable ties
Skill level: Beginner
Other tools needed: Wire cutters or scissors

This plan uses materials you may already have lying around the house, but if you don’t, they won’t cost you too much to pick up. The best thing about this playpen is that it folds away when you’re not using it. It’s compact, and you can hide it when it’s not in use, and it’s easy to set back up when you need it again.

3. Custom Rescue Dog Pen From Instructables

DIY Creative Playpen
Image Credit: Instructables
Materials: Plywood, lumber, chicken wire, roll of linoleum, screws, staples
Skill level: Advanced
Other tools needed: Chop saw, circular saw, cordless drill, staple gun, box cutter, and other miscellaneous small hand tools

This dog pen not only will keep your dog safe, but it also has a bottom to protect your floor. A handy guide shows that if you position it cleverly, you can let your dog outside whenever they need to without getting them out of the playpen first.

4. PVC Pipe Puppy Playpen by DreammyDoodles

DIY Creative Playpen
Image by: Dreamy Doodles
Materials: PVC pipes, corners, crosses, T’s, and caps, tarp (optional)
Skill level: Beginner
Other tools needed: Rubber mallet, PVC pipe cutters, PVC glue (optional)

This PVC playpen is perfect for someone who feels like their skills lie outside the realm of woodworking. It is also an ideal solution if you have puppies in your life or a small dog, as the sides are quite low. Make sure your pups can’t fit their heads through the gaps.

5. Instructables Quick and Portable Wire Dog Playpen

DIY Creative Playpen
Image by: Instructables
Materials: Heavy-gauge wire livestock mesh, aluminum wire, safety latches, metal fence posts (optional)
Skill level: Beginner
Other tools needed: Sledgehammer, pliers

This outdoor playpen is affordable with materials that are widely available. As it’s an outdoor version, it gives you a little more room to play with the size, depending on your needs. Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Advantages of a Playpen for Dogs?

We’ve already mentioned that a playpen is a good place for your dog to enjoy themselves safely, but are there any other benefits? After all, some dogs are just more rambunctious than others.

A playpen will keep other pets and furniture safe. If you opt for a non-permanent design, you can bring it on vacation so your dog can burn off some steam or relax in comfort. Keeping track of a puppy or a particularly energetic dog can be difficult, especially if you are busy. A playpen can give you some peace of mind.

Other advantages of a pen include:
  • It’s a great way to introduce new pets to your dog (especially if one dog is older).
  • Your dog can sleep peacefully.
  • You can use it as a safe potty-training area.

What Is the Ideal Size for a Dog Playpen?

For an outdoor pen, the sides should be tall enough to keep your dog from jumping out and other animals from jumping in. So, just because you have a small dog doesn’t mean you can keep the walls short if you have a problem with other animals wandering into your yard.

Adding a top would also keep your dog safe from bird predators and offer shade. Remember, if your dog is young, take this into consideration, and plan the size of the pen for future needs as they grow.

An indoor pen needs room for your dog to stand, lie down, and turn comfortably. If it’s too small, it will function more like a crate than a playpen; your dog needs room to actually play in it. If there’s lots of space, your dog can use one side for sleeping and relaxing and the other as a toilet.

Here are a few examples of minimum playpen dimensions:
  • 18 inches for miniature dogs (like a Maltese)
  • 2½ feet for dogs weighing up to 40 pounds (like a Cocker Spaniel)
  • 3 feet for dogs weighing up to 70 pounds (like a Basset Hound)
  • 3½–6 feet for large dogs (like a German Shepherd)

Of course, these are all just rough estimates. The size of your indoor pen will depend on the size of the space you’re working with and your dog’s needs!

How Long Should Your Dog Spend in Their Pen?

The playpen shouldn’t replace quality time with you. If your dog spends too much time in one, it will lead to boredom and can encourage bad habits, like chewing and whining. When you supervise your dog, make sure you let them out and reward good behavior. Try to keep their time in a playpen between 1 and 2 hours at most.

Also, try not to use it as a punishment or a prison, as this will make them grow to dislike their pen and be wary of you. For the pen to be useful, it needs to be associated with positive feelings, where they get to play, get treats, and rest.

a puppy in an outdoor play pen
Image by: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock


Giving your dog a safe place to play (or rest and relax outdoors in the shade if that’s what they prefer) shouldn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Building your own playpen gives you the freedom to create something that fits your home or yard and meets your dog’s specific needs. We hope that one of these plans has inspired you. Even if you don’t choose one of these playpens, they may give you an idea of what you can create!

Featured Image Credit: Mary Dimitropoulou, Shutterstock

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