Many dog owners are not so keen on using a crate for their dogs to sleep in at night, and some might even consider it cruel.
The playpen appears to be the logical substitute for the crate to provide more space for the puppy, the only issue with this is that all experts agree that a playpen is not a substitute for the crate.
We are not going to discuss the difference between the crate and the playpen and which is better, instead, we will only focus on the matter of leaving the puppy in the playpen at night and if it’s a good idea.
Leaving puppy in playpen overnight
Leaving a puppy in a playpen overnight is totally fine, as long as you don’t leave any food, water, or toys in it, in fact, it could be more convenient than a crate because you can place a puppy pad in it and avoid waking up multiple times at night for a potty trip.
It is worth mentioning that the puppy sleeping in the playpen at night is temporary, at some point the puppy will grow and would easily find his way out.
How to choose a playpen for your puppy?
Unlike the crate, the playpen should provide enough space for your puppy to move around, but has to also be big enough to prevent him from just jumping over it.
The puppy sleeping in the crate should at first be a matter of safety, but once the puppy has matured enough and learned some house rules he can sleep out of the playpen or continue to sleep in it if he’s used to it.
So basically a crate should be large enough and sturdy enough to prevent the puppy from escaping.
There are multiple playpen types in the market, those made of wood or wire are your best options.
Plastic and soft-sided playpens are too easy to escape even for a small puppy, and can’t be trusted at night.
What we recommend is to use a playpen that converts to puppy gates, this way you can use it at night for sleeping and to make a puppy-proof area during the day.
The best playpen/puppy gate out there is the Unipaws Pet Playpen with Wood and Wire (check at Amazon), it’s sturdy, large, and doesn’t damage hardwood floors.
Is it safe to leave a puppy in the playpen overnight?
Young puppies are curious, and they like to explore their surroundings, having a puppy on the loose at night can be dangerous.
For safety matters, it is best to provide a confinement solution for the night while you’re not supervising the puppy.
There are generally three confinement solutions, a puppy-proof area with dog gates but it’s too large and time-consuming to remove everything that might be dangerous every night, there is the crate but again some pet parents are not so keen on using it and the playpen is the middle ground, enough room but not too much.
As long as the crate is sturdy and large enough to prevent the puppy from jumping over, and they’ll try, it is safe to leave a puppy in the crate overnight.
For extra safety you can use a mesh top cover for the playpen at night, you can use this cover (check at Amazon) it fits the playpen we suggested earlier.
Can you leave food, water, or toys in the playpen overnight?
During the day there is no problem with leaving food, water, or toys in your dog’s playpen, but it’s a no-go at night.
The puppy needs to learn that at night there can’t be any activities, no eating no playing nothing but sleep.
The puppy will make a mess with the water and food anyway and will continue to play without getting enough rest and then spend most of the day sleeping.
Your dog should have his food and water at least two hours before it’s time to go into the playpen, even his potty trip should be just before bedtime.
No toys are allowed at night, the puppy should have enough exercise and playtime before going in the playpen.
Puppy cries in the playpen overnight
A puppy crying in his playpen at night or crate for that matter is not unusual, when confined a puppy will whine and bark to be released.
Thankfully, in most cases, this phase doesn’t last long and it’s generally associated with the first few weeks when the dog is not yet used to his new environment.
This could also happen if the puppy spends too much time in the playpen alone, they tend to get bored and need the connection with their guardians.
When the puppy is crying in his playpen at night, you want first to ignore it for a few minutes, but if it persists then you can talk to your puppy and comfort him.
Showing the puppy that you are around is usually enough for him to feel safe and surrounded by familiar people.
However, no matter how long it takes to calm your puppy don’t use toys or let the puppy out or he’ll keep doing it and it’s going to get worst.
Can I use pee pads in the playpen overnight?
Of course, it is possible to use pee pads in the playpen, it’s one of the perks of the playpen when compared to the crate.
In a crate there is no room for the puppy to make his business, dogs are fairly clean animals and don’t like to eliminate where they sleep.
The playpen on the other hand is spacious and the puppy has enough room to play and use a corner as his potty space.
It is a good idea to use pee pads at night if you’re not willing to wake up at night to let your dog out for a potty trip.
On the other hand, a crate does help with potty training a lot more than a playpen, and you can expect some incidents outside of the pads.
To play it safe you can get a large washable pee pad (check at Amazon) and place it under the playpen for extra protection.
When to get rid of the puppy playpen?
If your dog is used to sleeping in his playpen, you don’t have to get rid of it, often dogs don’t like change in their daily routines.
When the puppy is old enough he can probably just escape the playpen anyway, so if your dog is escaping the playpen and he’s mature enough to sleep in a regular dog bed, you can remove it.
If however your dog although capable of escaping the playpen, still spends his nights peacefully in it and is used to then there is no need to remove it.
Can I also use the playpen during the day?
The playpen is originally meant to be used during the day, not at night so yes you can use it during the day and night.
The playpen also known as puppy exercise pen is a confined space where the puppy can play during the day when the parent can’t supervise him.
It’s actually a great way to keep your dog confined while at work, and it provides way more space than the crate and the puppy is less likely to get bored.
Playpens can be used both indoors and outdoors, to provide a safe environment for your puppy to play freely without constant supervision.
During the day you can and should use toys to help keep your puppy busy and remove any sense of boredom that can with time become separation anxiety.