The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Dog Pen
We all love our dogs and just want the best for them and so you've been asking yourself, "Should I get a pen?". We get asked this question a lot, as do many other sites and the answer all depends on your reasoning behind getting a pen. A pen is a great resource for raising well-behaved dogs and if used correctly is a safe haven for your dog to chill out whenever they wish. A pen is primarily used with younger dogs but can be used with dogs of any age, its main purpose is to keep your dog safe and contained when you're not around or are unable to supervise them. With puppies, dog pens (or smaller puppy pens) are used as a tool for potty training and learning when to chill out. It also stops your dog from doing things they shouldn't be doing, going places they shouldn't be going and generally keeping them out of mischief while you're busy.
What is a Dog Pen?
As mentioned a dog pen is used to contain your dog and keep them safe when you're unable to supervise them. In order to do this, dog pens are usually made up of metal panels, this means unless you mistakenly picked up a hyena rather than a dog, they won't be chewing their way out. So, your shoes, sofa and god-knows what else are all safe while the pen door is closed. Dog pens aren't supposed to be used for extended period of time and should always be checked to ensure they're secure and safe before leaving your dog alone inside, this prevents and injuries that could potentially happen.
Dog Pen Material
The materials used in a dog pen can affect its cost, safety and durability. Most pens are made from metal, plastic or mesh. There are benefits and drawbacks to all three, so you should ensure you choose the correct material that works for your dog.
Plastic sets a mid-point between price and durability and is also suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Within the house, plastic is many people's first choices, as they think about the scratches a metal pen may cause to their floors and that metal could potentially become sharp and harm an animal. But, on the other hand, plastic is easily chewable and your dog may chew their way out of the pen and get hold of your favourite slippers. Plastic is a bad choice for puppies or smaller dogs that may be going through teething or just enjoy chewing things. Plastic pens are, however, easily transported.
Metal pens are probably the most expensive choice, but with this higher price you also get an increase in quality and durability. Metal pens cannot be chewed (unless you still have that hyena) and are harder for your dog to push around or lift up. Poorly constructed metal pens, however, could potentially harm your dog with the ends of wires or sharp points. int he joints of the cage. You should always check over and inspect your pen to ensure it's safe for use. Metal pens have the added bonus of being made in various sizes but also having the ability to attach more than one together to increase size. Metal pens are best used outdoors on concrete floors as indoors they may scratch your floors.
Mesh pens are the least expensive option but also the least durable. A mesh pen isn't the best for teeth puppies and dogs that enjoy chewing as they could potentially cause themselves harm. Mesh cages are best suited to older dogs and dogs that would rather chill out than chew. Mesh pens are also fairly lightweight and so can be transported easily. Mesh pens are also harder to clean than metal or plastic pens.
Choosing your material all depends on the habits and size of your dog. Choose wisely as this could be the decision between your slippers living or dying.
Another important decision when choosing your dog pen is the size. There's no point buying a cage designed for a Jack-Russel if you have a Great Dane. The size must be relative to the dog size.
Outdoor Pen Basics
An outdoor pen should always have sides tall enough to keep your dog inside and stop them from jumping out and stop other animals jumping in. A fence of 6 foot is usually sufficient, but this isn't always the case. Dogs that can climb will probably clear your fence no matter the size, and if you have a small dog you need to ensure they're safe from other predators (such as hawks, kestrels, owls etc). Adding a top to the pen is a solution to each of these problems and also adds some shade on hot days. Obviously, ensure the pen is a suitable size for your dog and remember that if your dog is young, they are still growing and this should be taken into consideration when considering size.
Indoor Pen Basics
Your dog should be able to stand up, lie down and turn around inside their pen. The idea behind an indoor pen is that your dog won't want to soil in their living quarters and so will wait to be let out, this is one of the main uses of indoor pens. If your dog has huge amounts of space they'll just use one end for sleeping and sitting, and the other as a toilet. Indoor pens are usually smaller than outdoor pens and it's recommended that they be the following sizes:
18 inches long for miniature dogs such as Maltese.
2½ foot long for dogs weighing up to 40 pounds, such as Cocker Spaniels.
3 foot long for dogs weighing up to 70 pounds such as Basset Hounds.
3½ - 6 foot long for large dogs such as German Shepherds and Newfoundlands.
While you are busy and occupied, this is the perfect time to use the pen, you shouldn't just throw the dog into the pen and leave, allow them to enter by themselves by introducing some toys, blankets and maybe a few treats inside. A dog shouldn't be left inside the pen for extended periods of time (2-4 hours is usually maximum). Longer periods of time can lead to boredom and the dog will probably start whining and possibly creating themselves some bad habits such as chewing and chasing their tail (as cute as this is, it's still a bad habit). Whenever you are able to supervise your dog, be sure to open the door and let them out, rewarding any good behaviour.
Introducing the pen
If you introduce the pen while your dog is still young is the best option as they will begin to see the pen as part of life. Older dogs will, however, require some encouragement (and maybe a bride or two). Using treats and toys to lure them into the pen and then rewarding them while repeating your chosen command ('Pen' or 'Bed' etc). You should never force your dog inside the pen as this will just make them fear going inside and will lead to more bad habits.
It's not a prison
The pen is to be used when you are unable to supervise your dog, it is not and should never be used as a punishment or as a prison. Many new trainers, make this mistake and eventually end up making the dog hate their pen, this can also lead to your dog becoming weary around you and breaking your bond due to them believing you're going to try and force them inside again. If your dog is bad, correct them with words and then praise anything good. For the pen to be useful, your dog must see it as a good place to be, somewhere they get treats and the chance to rest without being interrupted.
Don't give in
When you first introduce your dog to their pen and close them inside, they're likely to show some signs of irritation at first due to them not being able to roam like usual. Once you start leaving the room, this is probably going to turn into barking and whining. When this happens, it's important that you don't give in and go running back to let them out or give them any attention (That's what they want!). Once they have been inside for the duration of your activity and they're quiet and relaxed, open the door and praise them.
Advantages of Dog Pens
Dog pens offer lots of advantages and benefits, some of these are:
- The dog can't escape - If an exterior door is left open, and you're occupied elsewhere, the dog is no longer able to escape out of the door without you noticing, instead, they're safe inside their pen.
- Your dog learns to be calm - All dogs get excited when new people come over to visit, this leads to jumping and if small children are present, the potential to knock them down and injure them. This can be avoided by using your pen as a method of keeping the dog calm while new people are around.
- You can introduce new pets - If you have never had any pets before, you might be weary as to getting another and introducing the two. For example, dogs are not too tolerant of cats, so you may be afraid of leaving the two to meet. With a pen, you are able to allow the cat and dog to meet each other without the possibility of it all going wrong.
- Your dog can sleep peacefully - If you have small children in the house, you'll know once they spot an animal sleeping, they just can't leave them sleeping and have to wake them up. With a pen, this isn't possible as the dog and child are separated.
- Safe potty training - During potty training (young dogs), you may find that your dog has one or two accidents, this isn't bad, we all have accidents. But if you're using a pen, these accidents are all confined to one place rather than dotted around the house.
- Unchewable - Some dogs just enjoy chewing things up! It's as simple as that. With a pen they are only able to chew up what you give to them, this means you can fly around the house and hide all your shoes and chewable items before letting your dog roam.
- Safe Meals - If you've had a dog in your life before, you'll know that their favourite pass time is to watch you eat and occasionally try and steal whatever they can. With a pen, this can all be avoided as they don't need to be isolated from the family during meal times, but they are also at a safe distance and soon learn to keep themselves at a distance during meal time. This is especially useful if you have small children that are just learning to feed themselves.
- Older and younger dogs - If you have an older dog and are trying to introduce a puppy that is easily excited, it can be hard for the older dog as they don't have the energy or tolerance for this anymore. Using a pen allows you to keep them separate until they have gotten used to each others presence.
Where to buy from?
There are plenty of great places to get your dog pens from! Just shopping around online will turn up thousands, and having a look in your local supermarkets and pet stores might turn up a few more. But don't forget you're after quality as well as cost-effective. You can alway have a look at our extensive range of pens! We also offer outdoor kennels, puppy pens, holding pens, beds, bowls and tons more! Be sure to check out the website!