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5 Best Exercise Pens for Dogs TESTED So You Don’t Have To!

Dog pens are an excellent addition to any pet owner’s toolbox. They’re versatile and suit a variety of different environments.

With so many dog pens for sale, it’s hard to choose the right one for you and your dog. 

There are options for exercise pens that are compatible with indoor or outdoor play. Whether you’re a homebody or a wild adventurer, there’s a dog pen for you.

We’ve created a guide to cover everything from how to use an exercise pen, what benefits it can offer your furry friend, and most of all, what the best pen is for you! 

Here are 5 of the best exercise pens for dogs!

Read our related article, How To Keep A Dog Active During The Day (EXERCISE Tips) for more ideas on keeping your dog healthy!

Our Top Picks

  Product Details    
01 BestPet Heavy Duty Exercise Pen Best for Big Dogs: BestPet Heavy Duty Exercise Pen This is a great pick for big dogs. Little dogs can easily get their paws stuck in between the panels, so it’s not ideal for them. This pen provides ample room for a large dog, and the gaps in panels shouldn’t be a problem. Check Price
02 MYPET PetYard Exercise Pen With Lockable Passage Door Best For Indoor: MYPET PetYard Exercise Pen With Lockable Passage Door We absolutely love some of the cute design features, namely the swinging doggy door. This pen is very sturdy for active dogs, and it doesn’t have dangerous gaps for little dogs. This pen will suit every need, but keep in mind that the height is only about 26”. An athletic dog might just jump right over! Check Price
03 Parkland Pet Portable Foldable Dog Playpen Best For Small Dogs: Parkland Pet Portable Foldable Dog Playpen A great option for the avid traveler! This pen is light and folds completely flat. This pen is very small and really only suited for small or miniature breeds. The sunroof is a great addition if you’re concerned about your dog catching too many rays. Check Price
04 MidWest Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen Best For Budget: MidWest Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen With many designs and colors, you’ll find this is the most visually diverse option. With a sturdy design at such a low price point, this is a great choice for a great quality budget pen. Check Price
05 EMYSSA 17.7″ Outdoor Dog Pen Best For Budget Runner-Up: EMYSSA 17.7″ Outdoor Dog Pen We love how this pen reminds us of an upscale dog café with its sleek design. The great news is that you can have this pretty pen without spending much. It’s better suited for small dogs, and it’s easily broken down and transported. Check Price

How We Chose the Best Exercise Pens for Dogs

Dog running in an exercise pen
Exercise pens give your dog a safe place to run and play outdoors.

In order to narrow down the options, we judged products based on 5 factors: affordability, ease of assembly, portability, size, and overall quality. 

MYPET is a pet supply shop run under the company Northstates, which was founded in 1953.

Many of their products carry the “Made in the USA” tag, as they say they want to preserve top-notch quality.

If you’re looking for a family-owned business, MidWest Pet Homes has been family-owned since 1921.

They have more than just dog products, as they sell cat enclosures, carriers, etc. 

Lastly, we scoured Amazon for the top-rated products for pens pet owners are sure to love. 

Dogs don’t only need physical exercise, they need mental exercise, too! Read our article on How to Exercise Your Dog’s Brain!

Best Exercise Pens for Dogs Reviewed

1. Best for Big Dogs: BestPet Heavy Duty Exercise Pen

BestPet Heavy Duty Exercise Pen

Product Ratings

Assembly 3/5
Portability 4/5
Size Range5/5

Sizes: 62 x 62 x 24 in- 62 x 62 x 48 in| Material: Metal | Brand: MidWest | Colors: Black, Gold, Blue, Pink | Features: Some Models Offer Doors; Manufacturers Warranty | Dogs: Extra Small to Large Breeds

What We Liked

  • Easy to assemble
  • Good for large dogs

What We Didn’t Like

  • Material can be rough or slightly sharp
  • Not rust-proof

This is a great quality pen for the price. Other pens in the price range simply don’t beat its level of versatility.

The materials are well made.

There are some flaws with the longevity of the metal in different environments, but it’s still one of the best exercise pens for dogs out there. 


The metal seems pretty sturdy, but there are some flaws.

This pen might not be the best for outdoor use, since it has a tendency to rust. If it happens, you still have the year-long manufacturer’s warranty. 

The panels themselves are lighter than some of the other options, so you might run into a problem with a high-energy dog moving it around.

They provide stakes and tie-downs, so the weight might not be a big problem outside.

The plastic clips that keep it together could pose a problem for a very active dog. They aren’t very stable when faced with sustained abuse. 

Size and Adaptability

This pen is very easily adaptable to many sizes of environments or dogs.

It has great potential to hold your puppy through every stage of life. When it comes to convenience in those regards, not much can beat it. 

It’s a common complaint that there isn’t much room for more than one dog. This pen is one that suits just a single dog.

Some people addressed this problem by buying more panels or using the Amazon Basics brand to add to the space, so you can remedy the space issue if need be.

Portability and Extra Features

This is highly portable, as the panels are very light. However, a small car might have some trouble transporting this. 

The MidWest pen has a convenient gate so you don’t have to open an entire panel. There is a wide gap that a dog may get caught in.

We recommend you not keep your dog in the pen without some sort of supervision. 

2. Best Indoor Pen: North States Mypet Pen

MYPET PetYard Exercise Pen With Lockable Passage Door

Product Ratings

Assembly 4/5
Portability 5/5
Size Range1/5

Sizes: 30.13 x 5.63 x 26.88 in – 35.25 x 10.3 x 26.5 in| Material: Plastic | Brand: North States Mypet | Colors: Brown, Gray | Features: Swinging Door, Skid-Resistant Pads | Dogs: Extra Small to Large Breeds

What We Liked

  • Easy to assemble once you get the hang of it
  • Has a swinging doggy door that can be locked

What We Didn’t Like

  • Dogs can quickly outgrow the gate


First of all, this pen can put up with some abuse!

It still holds up after serious weather conditions if you want to use it outside. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with heavy rain or cold, this pen will hold up. 

The corners are locking pieces, so there aren’t going to be the same dangerous gaps that others have (which is a bonus if you have an escape artist).

This model can also boast very sturdy plastic.

Some people have said that they received damaged or dirty products, but that isn’t a trend.

The majority of the time the materials arrive in great condition, and that was the case with ours, as well. 

Size and Adaptability 

This doesn’t have the number of size ranges that some other pens have, but it’s still a good range.

It should hold a large dog comfortably, but there might be a problem with the doggy door if they’re of considerable size.

Just make sure to check the dimensions against your dog’s height.

There aren’t a lot of configurations you can put this in, so it’s mainly one size. That isn’t a problem with most people, but it’s something to consider.

Portability and Extra Features

We love the doggy door. Not only is it adorable, but it’s much more convenient if you’re using the pen as a little den for your pup.

The flap affords your dog more freedom of movement which may make them more comfortable. 

The Mypet pen comes with skid-resistant pads so your dog will not be able to move it around.

Not only will this keep your pen from moving around the house, but it also protects your floors!

3. Best Travel-Friendly Pen: Parkland Portable Folding Pen

Parkland Pet Portable Foldable Dog Playpen

Product Ratings

Assembly 5/5
Portability 5/5
Size Range2/5

Sizes: Small – Large | Material: Fabric | Brand: Parkland Pet | Colors: Brown | Features: Zipper Closure, Shade Roof | Dogs: Extra Small to Small Breeds

What We Liked

  • Folds down flat for easy transportation
  • Lightweight 
  • Has a shade panel
  • Zipper closures make for easy assembly and containment

What We Didn’t Like

  • Has an industrial plastic smell
  • Not good for medium or large dogs
  • Possibility for low ventilation (concern if you have dogs that overheat easily)


One thing that we loved about the product’s material is its shade roof. If you like to go camping or be outdoors, that’s a very useful feature to keep your dog safe and cool. 

The fabric is sturdy, and the pen comes with a sewn-on bottom. This will keep your dog cleaner and safe from ground pests.

It doesn’t have the same ventilation as metal pens, so this might not be the best option for a dog that overheats easily or for use in hot weather.

Size and Adaptability 

The size is pretty rigid and so is configuration. This pen is great for smaller dogs but you may have to look elsewhere if you have a larger dog.

Since the pen is small, you might not run into any problems with a rigid structure. This is a circular pen and doesn’t have much room for customization on the shape.

Portability and Extra Features

This is by far the most portable of all the items listed. It’s extremely lightweight and folds down flat.

It’s just as easy to set up, and its zipper closure makes it easy to keep your pet inside. 

We’re going to stress the shade panel one more time.

Since this pen is mainly used outdoors, the manufacturers predicted that your dog is going to be under a lot of sun.

They made sure to keep them safe by adding this feature. It really is genius and important for the health and safety of your buddy. 

4. Best for Budget: MidWest Foldable Metal Dog Exercise Pen

Product Ratings

Assembly 3/5
Portability 2/5
Size Range5/5

Sizes: 32 x 24 in – 32 x 40 in| Material: Metal | Brand: MidWest | Colors: Black | Features: No Tools Required, Hinged Door | Dogs: Extra Small to Large Breeds

What We Liked

  • Easy to assemble
  • Very large capacity
  • No-tool assembly
  • Convenient door
  • Element-resistant materials 

What We Didn’t Like

  • Can be dangerous for small dogs or puppies
  • Some possibility for wear and tear on paint


The metal is sturdy and bend-proof, so a strong dog isn’t going to knock it over easily.

This exercise pen is very well made and has smooth or otherwise protected edges, so your dog won’t be in danger of jabbing or cutting itself. 

Some people complained about paint chipping, but that’s not a common complaint. Overall, the material is of good quality and looks great. 

Size and Adaptability

The sizing has a very wide range, so this is easily adaptable to many different breeds of dogs.

However, this is not suited for every dog. If your dog is big enough to get its paws up on the top, it may be easy for them to jump over the pen or slip into one of the gaps in between the panels. 

This flaw could pose a serious problem in regards to safety, but most big dog owners don’t have a problem with this.

Our best advice is to assess how big your dog’s paws or head are compared to the gate. If anything can fit through, we recommend you not leave your dog alone for too long. 

Portability and Extra Features

The BestPet pen is still a very travel-friendly option. Though it’s not as lightweight as some of the other (even metal) ones, it’s easy to break down and set up.

The materials are weather-proof, so the elements won’t be a problem. Best of all, the assembly doesn’t require a single tool!

We loved the hinged gate, as well. It’s very convenient and the latches are secure and won’t easily open if pushed on or leaned against by your dog.

The step is a bit tall, so a small dog might have trouble coming in and out.

Just watch out for that, and if you have to pick up your dog – well- there’s no problem with one extra hug!

5. Best Budget-Friendly Pen: EMYSSA Outdoor Dog Pen

 EMYSSA 17.7″ Outdoor Dog Pen

Product Ratings

Assembly 3/5
Portability 3/5
Size Range5/5

Sizes: 42 x 42 in – 53.1 x 53.1 in | Material: Metal | Brand: EMYSSA | Colors: Black | Features: Hinged Gate, Anti-Slip Pads | Dogs: Extra Small to Small Breeds

What We Liked

  • Anti-slip pads keep your floors from being damaged
  • Gate is suitable for small dogs
  • Smart, versatile design
  • Size range is wide for small dogs, allowing for small and large enclosures

What We Didn’t Like

  • Zip-tie and plastic piece assembly
  • Only meant for small dogs
  • Seems like it could break down in the future with prolonged use


The material that makes up the panels themselves looks good, but we’re not huge fans of the assembly.

Zip ties and clips make us a little nervous concerning its sturdiness. However, the company does have a satisfaction guarantee.

If you really don’t like it, send it in, get a refund, and refer back to this article. 

That being said, the metal is smooth, so it beats out some of the other wire gates on this list in that regard.

The joints look really nice and also protect your dog from any sharp edges. 

Size and Adaptability 

We wouldn’t recommend this product to anyone who has a large dog.

Medium is pushing the limit, so if you have a medium dog that likes to jump, get a pen that’s taller. Other than that, it has a wide area for a dog to wander around.

There aren’t many shapes you can put this in, so you have to be able to have enough space for a square of its size.

However, its purpose is to house smaller dogs, so there should be plenty of space for a small dog’s den.

Portability and Extra Features

We love the slip-proof pads! It keeps your floors from being scratched and nails down your pup in one place.

No worries here about your little friend going on wild adventures! 

Its hinged gate is very convenient, and since this is made for smaller dogs, you don’t have to worry about that big step that the previous entry had.

However, its easy-to-assemble zip-tie closure makes for this pen to be mainly a temporary measure.

It’s possible to keep it longer, but there are many complaints about the longevity of the system. 

Comparison Chart

Assembly 3/54/55/53/53/5
Size Range 5/51/52/55/55/5

The Winner

The MidWest foldable pen is the official winning option. It’s a bit of an investment, but that outweighs the consistently high ratings.

Its assembly goes by quickly and easily in comparison to most of the others. It’s portable while maintaining a good size and sturdiness.

Unlike most other highly portable pens, this suits both large and small dogs. 

How to Choose the Best Exercise Pen for Dogs

Dog running outside
The right exercise pen for your dog depends on their size, energy level, and the space in your yard.

Consider Your Dog’s Size and Growth

Not all pens are suitable for every sized dog.

For example, the BestPet option has a common complaint that small dogs or puppies often get their paws or faces stuck in between the panels.

A bigger dog wouldn’t have that problem, but for a small dog or puppy, that flaw could be dangerous. 

The Parkland Pen has the complete opposite problem. Though it’s portable and light, it also isn’t suited for large breeds.

On top of that, it’s not very practical for growing dogs, as its design is fairly rigid. 

If your puppy is still growing, you may want to consider finding an option that can expand with your puppy.

Something with multiple size options is great for growing with your dog so that you don’t have to be constantly buying pens. 

We recommend looking for one that has multiple panels that you can put together as needed.

It’s a bonus that these pens usually can be configured in any way, so it suits all kinds of spaces. 

What is Your Dog’s Activity Level?

Dogs can easily bowl over some pens, so you’ll need to be on the lookout for a heavier fence if this is the case.

Gates that are made of sturdy metals seem to work well for that.

It’s also important to consider one of the best exercise pens for dogs that will give your dog plenty of space.

Again, adjustable pens are a great option if that’s what you need. 

What’s Your Lifestyle?

Some people might not need easily portable fences while others need something that travels easily.

If you travel often, it’s essential that you consider the portability section of this article’s charts.

If these are mainly temporary enclosures, the flimsier options might not be much of a problem for you. 

Heavy fences simply aren’t practical for traveling 

If this is more of a permanent setup, like in a home or backyard, you’re going to want the more heavy-duty options.

This way, your dog can have a pen that will put up with a little bit of prolonged, rough treatment.

Make sure to look out for the potential to rust if you’re keeping your pet outdoors.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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