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Discussion Starter #1
I know I want to follow Ian Dunbar's recommendations regarding short-term and long-term confinement during puppyhood. Makes a lot of sense to me, solves a lot of problems I faced in the past with new dogs. So I need to get an ex-pen, but I keep second-guessing myself on which one I should order. Our spoo will be on the small side, expected to mature around 19-20". She'll be coming home at 10 weeks old. Can I go with a 30" tall ex-pen? Or should I just go with the 36" height most of you standard folks recommend? Karbit Poodles are kind of known to be climbers....

I'm also trying to decide about a door versus without one. For those of you who used one without a door, did you just lift up the fence to let the puppy out underneath? I've seen a few different places in old forum posts where people said they never lifted the puppy up and out, so it wouldn't know you could leave the pen that way.

I'm probably ordering from Amazon, and the Midwest Homes pens look a lot better constructed than the AmazonBasics or some of the other brands. Availability is kind of hit or miss right now, likely due to covid and the puppy craze. Any recommendations or experiences with these brands?

I feel like I'm nit-picking and obsessing over tiny, unimportant details, but I figure this is the place people will understand that, if anywhere.
 

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This is the fun stuff! Nitpick as much as you want. Preparing for a puppy is such an exciting time.

Here's the one I picked:


A door was a non-negotiable for me, as I have some mobility issues and also planned to spend a lot of time in there with Peggy.

Maybe I got lucky, but climbing was never an issue. The moment a puppy paw hit the pen, I said "Ah!" and then turned into a boring statue....then joyous praise when she retreated.

If she was bored and wanting to play, that praise was accompanied by play. If she was getting antsy and wanted out, that praise was accompanied by the pen door being flung open. That sort of thing.

Peggy quickly caught on that Good Things happened when she left the pen alone. But I'm sure that's at least partly her temperament. She's also extremely athletic and could have conquered that pen in a heartbeat. But teaching her to respect it also taught her to respect our outside fencing, which is similarly NOT poodle-proof.

I think this is where a slightly more flimsy pen can work to your benefit, as they don't encourage climbing the way a sturdy structure would. They're more symbolic than true barriers, which is why I would never leave Peggy in her x-pen while we're not home.
 

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Should add that we actively taught her to love it in there. We gave her loads of things to chew, shred, and play with. She was never expected to just sit quietly in a sterile space. Her pen was always a bit of a puppy wonderland.
 

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I got a North States 30" Toddleroo 6 panel Superyard. Actually, I got 2 of them; obviously I liked the first. :) Things I liked:
  • Sturdy. It's intended for kids, not dogs.
  • It has a gate. Unless you have legs like a giraffe, stepping over a 30" panel while holding a full water bowl is really awkward. You definitely don't want to bend over a panel to hoist a 20 pound puppy out; that's just begging for back injuries.
  • It has smooth vertical bars- fewer places for an ambitious puppy to put his feet during an escape attempt.
  • Reconfigurable. You can stretch it out full length, circle it into a pen, or something in between. I've used mine to block off the entrance to the garage when the door was up. Last night I used it block Galen from pushing his tennis ball up against the wood stove
For my purposes a 36" pen wasn't needed. I never left the dog in the pen unsupervised, and the dog wasn't to try going over a 30" pen if I was there.
 

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Midwest is better quality than amazonbasics.
 
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For my mini I went with a 34" Iris pen. I still use it if I'm away from home for a long time. It has a door to let the dog in and out, but I can't really enter easily through the door. If I need to enter the pen it is still fairly easy to separate two of the panels to enter. It is very sturdy. I had no issue with climbing, but some puppies do.

 

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I got a North States 30" Toddleroo 6 panel Superyard. Actually, I got 2 of them; obviously I liked the first. :) Things I liked:
  • Sturdy. It's intended for kids, not dogs.
  • It has a gate. Unless you have legs like a giraffe, stepping over a 30" panel while holding a full water bowl is really awkward. You definitely don't want to bend over a panel to hoist a 20 pound puppy out; that's just begging for back injuries.
  • It has smooth vertical bars- fewer places for an ambitious puppy to put his feet during an escape attempt.
  • Reconfigurable. You can stretch it out full length, circle it into a pen, or something in between. I've used mine to block off the entrance to the garage when the door was up. Last night I used it block Galen from pushing his tennis ball up against the wood stove
For my purposes a 36" pen wasn't needed. I never left the dog in the pen unsupervised, and the dog wasn't to try going over a 30" pen if I was there.
This is a really well made pen. I have one that is 7 almost 8 years old that I purchased for my cairn terrier. Now my daughter is using it for a shih tzu puppy. I'm not so sure thought the height would have kept my standard in, though I never used it for him, I just crated him. My cairn actually love this pen and still wants to go in it every morning to eat, right now she is out of sorts because it was moved away. I may have to get another. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #8
A belated thanks for your input, everyone! I ended up ordering the 36" ex pen by Midwest Homes with the door. I'm very pleased with it. So are some other members of my household-- the kitten immediately used it as a jungle gym, and my 7yo daughter converted it into a cozy nest for her and her favorite stuffed animals. :D We'll get it back out closer to the puppy coming home.
 

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Picking up this thread on exercise pens (and hopefully it isn't too old!), what do folks do for the "floor" of the exercise pen? We have wood floors in our house that the pen would sit on and it seems like it would be a good idea to put something down - both to protect the floors and to give our pup a little comfort. But I also know that anything fabric is always a tempting place to pee for young puppies. Maybe I'm overthinking and we should just leave the floor bare (easier to clean up accidents)? Appreciate thoughts from more experienced puppy parents!
 

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Picking up this thread on exercise pens (and hopefully it isn't too old!), what do folks do for the "floor" of the exercise pen? We have wood floors in our house that the pen would sit on and it seems like it would be a good idea to put something down - both to protect the floors and to give our pup a little comfort. But I also know that anything fabric is always a tempting place to pee for young puppies. Maybe I'm overthinking and we should just leave the floor bare (easier to clean up accidents)? Appreciate thoughts from more experience puppy parents!
It was important to me to provide flooring with good grip. Puppies that grow up on hard slick surfaces can have orthopedic development issues. Home depot sells interlocking garage floor tiles that have worked well for me. I put a layer of puppy pads underneath but if you have wooden floors you may want to lay something waterproof down over the floor. If you go with the interlocking tiles, let them air outside for a few days to get rid of the smell.
 

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It was important to me to provide flooring with good grip. Puppies that grow up on hard slick surfaces can have orthopedic development issues. Home depot sells interlocking garage floor tiles that have worked well for me. I put a layer of puppy pads underneath but if you have wooden floors you may want to lay something waterproof down over the floor. If you go with the interlocking tiles, let them air outside for a few days to get rid of the smell.
Perfect - that's a great idea. Thanks!
 

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When Zoe was a puppy we set up the exercise pen in the den so she would almost always have a person near her. I put down a waterproof tarp that extended 6-8 inches past the ex pen sides. Then I put her crate in one corner, some newspaper in the opposite corner, and clipped water and food bowls next to the crate. The ex pen has a top that serves two purposes: 1) it keeps the ex pen square and in place, and 2) it prevents climbing out. Zoe was 11 weeks old when I got her and was very reliably house broken by 5 months (we have a dog door so I don't have to take dogs out on leash to potty). The dog door opens out to a small fenced area that is graveled.

I definitely would protect wood floors from doggy piddles. If you don't happen to find and clean up right away it can cause permanent damage - not to mention smell!
 

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It really depends on what you plan to use the pen for. If it's for longterm confinement, you definitely want a clearly designated potty spot and a washable surface for any accidents.

All but one of Peggy's puppy accidents occurred on soft things, so—like us—you may have to adjust your plans based on your poodle's particular needs/challenges. We quickly removed the blankets we thought she'd enjoy snuggling into. Lol.

Peggy's pen on the bare floor posed no issue, but we have a fairly durable laminate so there was little risk. Once she was trustworthy on soft things, we added a bed.

She also wasn't in there for marathon stretches. Most of her playtime was in the backyard on the grass. If your puppy will be confined for extended periods, I'd want a surface with some "give" to it. Maybe an easily washable indoor/outdoor rug over something softer?
 
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