puppy play pen setup

Puppy Playpen Setup

A puppy playpen is so helpful when bringing home a new puppy, I consider it an absolute essential.   Let’s discuss the benefits of having it setup and I’ll give you links to where you can buy the different items as well.  This is a tool that you will use for two years or more and it’s worth the thought and planning.  It’s quite fun to set up your new pup’s “home area” before they arrive.

Keep in mind too, that this area needs to fit YOUR home.  Be creative, make it work and allow it to change as the needs of your pup changes.  This doesn’t need to be set in stone or done exactly how I do it, but I’m excited to share with you what has worked for us over the years.


puppy play pen setup

Benefits of a Puppy Playpen

  • Keeps Puppy Safe
  • Aides House Training
  • Eliminates Separation Anxiety
  • Allows you to go to work/run errands
Puppy Play Pen Helps Keep Your Puppy Safe

Puppies like to investigate with their mouths and this can cause a lot of trouble if they don’t have a diligent eye on them At. All. Times.  That’s exhausting.  Both you and your new pup need some down time where you know he will be safe and you can get on with a few normal household tasks…. or go to the bathroom in peace.  This is the area where you know they won’t eat something they shouldn’t, destroy a shoe or a cord or potty somewhere they shouldn’t.

Puppy Play Pen Aides House Training

Your puppy’s playpen will be where they are when they aren’t tethered to your hip (to be discussed soon!).  This area will be where they start to learn that the house is “their space” and they don’t want to soil “their space” and they will learn as they grow that the whole house is “their space.”  As they grow, you can make this area bigger…. very… very slowly.  If they start messing in the bigger area, it’s time to make it smaller again.

By the time your puppy goes home with you they *should* be able to hold their bladder for 2 hours of rest. It’s typically 1 hour for every month old they are up to a year old.   So while resting in their playpen or crate, they should be able to hold their bladder and bowl for the entirety.  While they are out playing with you, you will find that you may need to take them out every 20 minutes or so.  Timing your pups needs will help you prevent accidents.

Puppy Play Pen Aides in Eliminating Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can be extremely stressful for your pup….and for you.  Separation anxiety can be minimal like crying while you’re away or very severe to where they destroy things like crates, walls, couches, etc.   A puppy play pen, when utilized to it’s full potential can teach your puppy that their pen is a place to enjoy and relax and that they are 100% ok without your companionship all of the time.  As much as we want our dogs to love our company, it’s essential that they know how to survive without us.

When we send our puppies home we recommend a two hour rotation schedule.  This means two hours rotated between being tin their crate, playpen and being with you.  It is very good for the puppy to get adequate time practicing being alone in their crate and in their playpen.  This will teach them that these are restful places to be and they will actively seek out these areas as they grow older because it’s their “comfy place to be.”  When it’s their comfy place to be, the separation anxiety isn’t a concern because they know they are safe without you.  Bonus: A well rested dog will sleep well overnight.

Puppy Playpen Allows You to go to Work or Run Errands

It’s always very helpful if a person in the household can be with the puppy 24/7 (or nearly).  A puppy playpen helps those who work outside of the home have a puppy and have one successfully.  During the first few months, we still recommend you have someone stop in at least once a day to let them out, romp and play and potty, but a playpen allows them room to play, potty, get water and do more than just sleep in a crate.  This is also a safe place for those times where you need to run errands and you know your puppy isn’t ready for a nap.


Visual/Auditory Learner? Video at the bottom of this post!

The Setup of the Puppy Playpen

  • Linoleum
  • Playpen
  • Water
  • Rabbit Tray
  • Alfalfa Pellets
  • Waterproof pee pad
  • Toys/Bones
  • Bed
  • Crate

Linoleum is key to protecting your floors.  Puppies are messy…. their muddy paws, spilled water, potty accidents, etc take a toll on your flooring.  Cover the area where you’re going to put your playpen and you won’t need to worry about the toll that your pup will have on it.  We recommend getting a piece that will be bigger than your playpen.  Puppies like to dig and chew and if given the opportunity, they will rip your linoleum to shreds.  So buying a sheet of linoleum that will at least be a few inches bigger than your pen will save you the headache.  Buying bigger also allows you to place the pen in different configurations.  Because we live in the middle of nowhere, Lowes is our closest store.  We buy what’s on sale and it lasts a long time.


Your playpen is an investment into your puppy that will last at least two years.  We recommend a TALL playpen because the puppies learn to climb and jump quite quickly.  If you decide that a shorter one is ok for your use, we recommend one that only has vertical bars so they can’t climb in.  Here is one on Chewy that could suit your needs, but they are also sold on Amazon, Tractor Supply or even used from Facebook Marketplace.  Prices vary greatly, choose one that fits your needs and your budget.  I chose this one off of chewy because I prefer the heavier duty panels.


You puppy must have water, but it doesn’t have to be in the playpen.  Do what works best for you and your pup.  Newfypoo puppies drink  A LOT of water and you need to make sure they have enough.  An automatic waterer like this one can be very handy.  However, having it in the playpen may be hard if you want to withhold water in the evening time.  If you choose to go with a bowl, we recommend choosing a heavy porcelain bowl because they are difficult to spill.  You may also want to consider a No Drip Water dish if you want to keep the area a little more neat and tidy.  Prices on all the different kinds of water dishes vary greatly.  Hopefully this gives you a few ideas to start investigating and get just the right bowl for your new puppy.

Rabbit Tray

There are a lot of different litter tray options for dogs.  Fake grass, ones with high sides, low sides….. the options are many and I encourage you to investigate what might suit you best.  I don’t want to clean smooshed poop off of fake grass, so I pass on that option.  I am considering a box with higher sides, however, the pups get so large so fast, that I keep sticking with my handy dandy rabbit tray.  It’s large enough that they can keep using it for quite sometime.  Now granted, the goal is no litter box and to go only outside.  However, sometimes extended time away is needed and it’s nice to know that you won’t come home to your floor covered in pee and poop.  This is easy enough to take outside, dump and hose off.   Some people choose to place wire shelving as grates overtop so the pup isn’t walking on the pellets and keeps them from kicking the pellets outside of the box.  I have considered this, and may try it one day, however, the cleaning the smooshed poop off of the grates isn’t the greatest for me either.  I like the ease of just dumping it.  Here is the rabbit tray I buy from Tractor Supply.

Alfalfa Pellets

Alfalfa pellets are horse food and you can buy them at Tractor Supply or other grain stores that sell horse food.  Simply put, they are grass pellets so your litter box smells like grass.  We want our litter box to smell like grass so it’s an easy transition to going potty outside on grass….not on plastic, fabric, cement, etc.  You do not need to fill the litter box with the pellets, you will only get a huge mess of pellets everywhere.  Rather, a light covering of the bottom is plenty and helps your pellets last longer as well.  You will be able to take a piece of toilet paper or kitty litter scoop to take out the poop.  Once the pellets are dissolved from the pee, take it out and dump it somewhere on in a large trashcan.  Here are a few options from Tractor Supply.

Waterproof Pee Pad

The pups try so hard to go to potty in the right place.  Every so often I will see them climb into the box, sniff around and go potty…..with their bum hanging out over the edge. The pee pad goes under the rabbit tray to catch any misses.  Don’t use the plastic pee pads! They will destroy them and eat them.  We don’t ever encourage “only pee pads” either, as this teaches them to go on your carpets and rugs.  These are only here as a recommendation because they will make your clean up 100x easier and faster.  There are lots of options and price ranges, just be sure to buy one big enough that sticks out several inches around your rabbit tray.  Here is an example off amazon.


Buying new toys and bones for your new puppy is so exciting.  We recommend a variety of textures and sizes to help keep your puppy busy. Brain toys are also a great tool when supervised, as they often have small pieces.  Did you know that 15 minutes of brain work activity is the same as an hour walk?! That’s crazy.  In general, a few toys that are highly valued by your dog, should be kept for “in playpen only” or “in crate only” use.  This helps make these spaces extra special.  I like to buy bones LIKE THIS because they last close to a year.  The only part I really have to watch is sometimes the knuckle part comes off and I snatch that up so it doesn’t get stuck in the roof of their mouth or choked on.


Believe it or not we don’t recommend a bed in the crate.  Rather, we recommend it for their playpen.  We do this for two reasons.  First – because Newfypoos are hot dogs.  They actually often prefer to sleep on a cool floor.  Being in a small space and unable to move off a bed isn’t healthy for them.  Secondly, because we need them to learn not to potty in their crate.  If there is a blanket or bed in their crate and they pee, the fabric will soak up the pee and they won’t be uncomfortable.  If they potty in their crate, we want them to be uncomfortable.  We want them to learn that they don’t like that.  THIS IS THE BED we 100% recommend getting.  We have gone through SO many beds.  The Wash N Zip Pet Bed is so easy to unzip and wash.  Our puppy families get a discount on this bed because we love it so much!  If you’re ordering for a Newfypoo, get the XL size.


The crate is an essential part in this whole process as well.  As we covered above, it is key in helping your pup not have a case of separation anxiety.  After your pup is fully house trained you may decide that you don’t need your crate anymore, and that is totally ok!  But…. I wouldn’t be surprised, if you find that your grown dog will love his crate.  Our oldest girl has a crate in our basement.  If the door is closed, she will sit at the door and whine until we get up and open the door and she will go down and climb in her crate.  If the crate is upstairs, that is where we will find her 90% of her sleeping time. The other 10% is her 2nd favorite place…. under our bed.  You know how there are just some days where you can’t wait to get home, snuggle with a blanket on the comfy couch or in your bed?  That’s what the crate is to many dogs.  Now for size of crate.

We recommend that you get the largest because it will grow with your pup.  You want the space to start out small, so be sure to buy one that comes with a divider.  You want just enough space for the pup to lay out.  By six months old, the crate will probably be at it’s half way point of growth.  This 48″ crate from Chewy has a divider and a double door, which is nice because that allows for more options as to where you put it in your house.

Tip:  It’s also an option to use zip ties and zip tie the crate to the playpen.  This helps the playpen be a little bigger and allows for your dog to choose to sleep in the crate without being locked in.

Tip: If you practice crate time during the day time when you first bring him home, there will be less crying at night because he will get use to the routine during the day when it’s easier on your heart and ears to listen to their pitiful crying.

Tip: NEVER open a crate while your pup is crying.  Wait til he is quiet for at least 3 seconds and tell him “good quiet” when you open the door.  Opening the door while they cry will only lengthen the crying for the next time.

I hope this synopsis helps you feel like you have a plan for your new puppy.  Remember, this is your pup and your house.  What works for one person may not work for another.  This is what I have fiddled with over the years and I like to have this playpen area as close to the door as I can.  It’s what works for our household.  I’d love to see pictures of your new puppy’s space.  Your pup is blessed to have you.  Have fun planning! 


*Links provided are for information only.  They are not affiliate links and I make no income by sharing them. Should the links go bad, use the search feature on websites to search for the terms I have shared above.

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