A pet playpen is a portable enclosed pen which keeps small pets safe while they play. Pet playpens can be carried along on trips to ensure that animals have a secure environment to play in, and they can also be used around the house to confine pets to a specific area. Pet playpens are also used by animal shelters with mobile adoption programs, so that their animals have room to play when they are taken out to adoption events. Many pets stores sell a wide range of pet playpens, along with enrichment tools to make playpens more enjoyable for their occupants.
There are two basic variations on the pet playpen design. One design consists of a series of panels which fit together to create a pen with an open top; this design is ideal for dogs and rabbits, who are unlikely to jump out. Totally enclosed pet playpens can be used with cats, ferrets, and birds; this style has a covered top which prevents escape. In most cases, a pet playpen is made from enameled metal or plastic for easy cleanup, and the play pen is usually designed to fold for storage and transport.
An enclosed pet playpen may also have features like ladders, climbing poles, and sleeping platforms. The multi-level design makes the interior of the playpen more fun for curious and active pets like kittens and ferrets. In the case of a pet play pen which is designed for indoor use, a space is usually provided for a litter box, and snap-on additions like food and water are often available as well. If an animal is going to be enclosed in a playpen and left, water should always be made available.
Open pet playpens are often quite useful outdoors. Using an open pet playpen, pet guardians can accustom young animals like puppies to the textures, smells, and sights of the outside world. A pet playpen can also be used to confine ducklings, chicks, and other young farm animals to slowly introduce them to the outdoors without endangering them by setting them loose. Be aware than small pets are at risk of predation from raptors; do not leave animals unattended in an pet playpen when they are outside.
Although many pet playpens are designed to be sturdy and durable, and some even resemble cages, they are not usually suitable for animal transport. In a multi-level pet playpen, animals could be thrown or jostled from different levels in the playpen, potentially injuring themselves. The collapsible design of a playpen could also be compromised in a vehicle accident or in a sudden driving maneuver.