Budget-Friendly Outdoor Dog Pens. Keep Your Pooch Safe for Less


An outdoor dog pen provides a safe, enclosed area for dogs to play and relax when spending time outside the house. Dog owners choose outdoor pens for a variety of reasons. Outdoor pens allow dogs more space and freedom to move around than being kept indoors all day. They also keep dogs securely confined when owners need to leave them unattended. Outdoor pens are especially useful for owners who don’t have a fenced-in backyard.

Some key benefits of outdoor dog pens include:

  • Allowing dogs access to fresh air and sunshine
  • Providing extra exercise space to keep dogs active
  • Giving dogs a place to relieve themselves regularly
  • Keeping dogs securely contained outside the home
  • Protecting your landscaping and yard from dog damage

With proper set-up and maintenance, an outdoor pen can be an excellent solution for owners looking to give their dogs more outdoor freedom and stimulation. This article will explore different budget-friendly outdoor pen options to help owners find the best choice for their needs.

Types of Outdoor Dog Pens

common types of outdoor dog pens include wire, metal, plastic, and portable fabric pens.

There are several common types of outdoor dog pens to choose from:

Wire Pens – Wire dog pens, often made of galvanized steel, are a popular outdoor option. They are rigid and durable while still allowing airflow. Chain link or welded wire mesh is commonly used. Available sizes range from small portable pens to large permanent structures. Sources: Lowe’s, Penn Dutch Structures

Metal Pens – Heavy-duty metal pens made of galvanized steel provide maximum durability and security outdoors. They resist rust, require little maintenance, and have panels that connect together. Larger metal pens allow space for housing, shade, and exercise areas. Sources: Lowe’s, Penn Dutch Structures

Plastic Pens – Plastic outdoor pens are often molded as one solid piece. They are lightweight yet sturdy. While less durable for permanent outdoor use, they work well as a portable solution. Plastic is easy to clean and resists rust and decay. Sources: Lowe’s, Amazon

Portable Pens – For travel or temporary containment, portable fabric dog pens are convenient. They fold up for storage and transport. Lightweight steel or fiberglass frames provide structure while mesh fabric allows ventilation. They offer versatility at a lower cost. Sources: Lowe’s, Amazon

Factors to Consider

When choosing an outdoor dog pen, there are several important factors to consider based on your specific needs:

Size/Breed of Dog
Make sure to choose a pen large enough for your dog’s size and breed – larger breeds need more space. The pen should allow your dog to stand, lie down, and turn around comfortably. Consider future growth if purchasing for a puppy.


Outdoor dog pens can range greatly in price. Less expensive options like wire pens may rust over time, while more durable materials like steel will cost more upfront. Consider how much you can invest now vs maintenance costs later.

Look for sturdy materials like steel that will withstand the elements. Avoid flimsy wire or mesh pens that dogs can chew through. Check reviews to ensure the pen will last.

If you need to move the pen around your yard, look for one with a lightweight but sturdy build. Plastic and wire pens are typically easy to transport.

Dogs need shade from sun and shelter from rain/wind. Choose a pen with a cover or tarp, or spot the pen in a shaded area. You can also buy separate shade cloths or tarp covers.

Do your research to find the ideal outdoor dog pen for your needs. Focus on durability, safety, comfort, and appropriate sizing.

Top Budget-Friendly Options

affordable options for outdoor dog pens include brands like frisco, amazonbasics, and arf pets.

When looking for an affordable outdoor dog pen, there are some great options available without breaking the bank. Here are some top picks:

Frisco Small Dog Exercise Pen

The Frisco Small Dog Exercise Pen from Chewy provides a spacious area for small dogs up to 25 lbs. It features a heavy-duty steel frame and measures 24″ tall x 24″ wide with panels that can extend up to 144″ wide. The panels are made from a durable black galvanized wire. At only $34.99, this pen is very budget-friendly.

AmazonBasics Foldable Metal Pet Pen

For less than $40, the AmazonBasics Foldable Metal Pet Pen provides 32 sq ft of enclosed space. The panels are made from sturdy steel wire with a black electrocoat finish. It can be folded flat for storage and portability. Reviewers mention it works well for both indoor and outdoor use.

Arf Pets Soft-Side Outdoor Pet Playpen

If you want a portable fabric pen, the Arf Pets Soft-Side Outdoor Pet Playpen is only $39.99 at Chewy. The lightweight mesh fabric creates an enclosed 8 panel pen that provides 16 sq ft of space. It has a steel frame and stakes to secure it outdoors. There’s also a water-resistant mat floor.

Setting Up the Pen

Properly setting up your outdoor dog pen is crucial for your dog’s comfort and safety. Here are some important tips for choosing the right location and properly securing the pen:

Location Tips:

Choose a flat, level area of your yard with good drainage to prevent water pooling. Avoid areas prone to flooding. Pick a shady spot under a tree to provide relief from the sun. Don’t place the pen next to objects your dog could jump on to escape.

Securing to the Ground:

Anchor the pen panels to the ground using the provided ground stakes. Push the stakes completely into the ground at an angled position. You may need additional stakes for larger pens. Use sandbags or cinder blocks around the edges if your dog is an escape artist.

Access to Shade & Water:

Provide a shaded area in one section of the pen using a tarp or shade cloth. Include a water bowl secured to the pen floor so it doesn’t tip over. Refill with fresh water frequently. Consider positioning the pen near an outdoor faucet for easy refilling.

Ensuring Comfort & Safety

When keeping your dog in an outdoor pen, it’s important to ensure they have everything they need to stay comfortable and safe. Some key considerations include:

keeping dogs comfortable and safe in outdoor pens requires proper bedding, water, shade, and temperature control.


Provide a raised doghouse or igloo shelter filled with soft, warm bedding to give your dog a cozy place to rest. Cedar chips or straw make good insulating bedding materials. Ensure the house is large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably (Source).


Scatter durable chew toys around the pen to keep your dog mentally and physically stimulated. Rotate toys to keep things interesting. Avoid toys that could pose a choking hazard if chewed into small pieces.

Water/Food Bowls

Provide heavy ceramic or stainless steel non-tip bowls, secured low to the ground. Refresh water at least twice daily. Feed on a schedule to avoid food sitting out too long. Choose an indoor/outdoor mat or platform to place the bowls on.

Weather Protection

Ensure part of the pen is covered for shade and rain protection. In hot weather, provide ample cool water and never leave your dog without shade. In cold weather, use insulating bedding and consider a heating pad or heated water bowl (Source). Adjust temperatures accordingly.

Training Your Dog

Acclimating your dog to using an outdoor pen takes time and patience. Start by placing their favorite toys and bedding inside the pen and allowing them to explore it while you supervise. Sit near the entrance and reward them with praise and treats for entering on their own. After a few minutes, step away briefly, then return and let them out. Increase the time slowly over several days until your dog is comfortable relaxing inside for extended periods.

training dogs to use an outdoor pen takes patience - use rewards, supervision, and a slow introduction.

For potty training, establish a routine of taking your dog directly to the designated relief area of the pen immediately after meals and naps. Use a verbal cue like “go potty” and reward successes with treats. Thoroughly clean any accidents with an enzymatic cleaner. Consider setting an alarm to take puppies out every couple hours until they learn to hold it. Supervise closely so you can interrupt and redirect any potty mistakes.

To discourage barking or digging, provide plenty of chew toys and rotate novel items to keep your dog stimulated. Take them on a vigorous walk beforehand to burn energy. Teach the “quiet” command using positive reinforcement when they stop barking. If separation anxiety is the cause, try calming music and limiting time alone until they adjust. Apply bitter apple spray to deter digging or cover fencing with plastic sheets.

For more tips, check out these guides: https://www.thedogkennelcollection.com/blog/how-to-kennel-train-a-dog/ and https://www.somerzby.com.au/blog/how-to-get-a-dog-to-use-a-kennel-outside/

Maintenance Tips

Keeping your outdoor dog pen clean and in good repair is essential for your dog’s health and wellbeing. Here are some tips for proper maintenance:


It’s important to thoroughly clean your dog’s pen on a regular basis to prevent the buildup of waste, dirt, and odors. Scrub solid surfaces like walls and floors using a bleach solution starting from the top down according to this source. Use a stiff broom, brush or mop on flooring. Remove all bedding and wash with hot water and bleach. Rinse thoroughly and allow to fully dry before replacing. Wipe down bowls, toys and other accessories.


Inspect your outdoor pen periodically for any needed repairs. Look for damaged fencing, loose panels or hardware, exposed sharp edges or other hazards. Make repairs promptly to prevent injury or escape. Check that latches and gates are working properly and are securely closed. Ensure proper drainage and fill in any holes or low spots.

Winter Considerations

In cold climates, take extra steps to make sure your outdoor kennel remains safe and comfortable in winter according to these tips. Remove snow buildup regularly and lay down ice melt to avoid slippery conditions. Place clean, dry bedding inside and consider a heated water bowl to prevent freezing. Check that the kennel protects against wind, rain and drafts.

Common Problems

Some common problems that owners face with outdoor dog pens include chewing/destruction, escaping, and excessive barking.

Chewing or destruction of the pen materials is a very common issue, especially with anxious or high-energy dogs. Dogs may chew on plastic tray bottoms, bend or break wire caging, dig under fence lines, or destroy zip ties or latches in their escape efforts. Using sturdy materials like galvanized steel, avoiding thin plastic trays, and protecting latches can help reduce destruction. Providing plenty of enrichment activities inside the pen can also help curb destructive chewing (Source 1).

Escaping is another very common problem, as dogs are clever and determined. Securing all access points, using heavy materials, double latching gates, burying fencing, and proper training are some ways to prevent escapes. But intelligent and athletic dogs may still find creative ways out, like climbing, jumping, or working together to escape (Source 2).

Excessive barking can also be an issue in outdoor pens, annoying neighbors and people passing by. Providing toys, exercise, company, and proper training can help reduce barking. But territorial barking at passersby may still persist. Trying privacy fencing or sound-blocking panels can help dampen the noise.


In summary, there are many affordable options for outdoor dog pens that allow your furry friend room to play and explore safely. While chain-link or wire pens tend to be the most budget-friendly, consider your dog’s needs in terms of security, visibility, shade, and comfort when making your selection. Properly setting up the pen is also key – make sure to anchor it securely, provide ample shade and clean bedding, allow for proper drainage, and include toys for enrichment. With the right setup, an outdoor dog pen enables both dogs and owners to enjoy the fresh air and outdoors. Your dog will benefit from time off-leash to run around, all while staying securely contained and protected. Just be sure to monitor your pup, provide proper training, and perform routine maintenance on the pen to get the most out of this useful addition to your backyard.

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