Pet Crate, Pet Kennels, and Pet Pens: Which Option Is Best?

Pet owners are like parents: it’s our job to love our furry friends, but we also have a responsibility to protect them. Sometimes, protecting our pets involves containing them in a single room or small space when we can’t fully supervise their every move. Luckily, pet enclosures keep our furry friends in a specific location while maintaining their safety and comfort. 

Have you noticed how many different types of pet enclosures are available, though? There are crates, kennels, and pens… so which one is the best choice for you and your pet? 

Each type of pet enclosure serves a unique purpose. Therefore, it’s essential to read about each option out there and learn how to decide whether a crate, kennel, or pet pen will serve as the best choice for your beloved pet.

What Pet Enclosures Are Available?

There are many pet enclosures available on the market. Although they all confine dogs and other animals to a specific location, each pen is ideal for particular purposes. 

The main types of pet enclosures include:

  • Crates
  • Kennels
  • Pens
  • Tanks
  • Cages

Some enclosures, like tanks, are only suitable for fish and similar pets. So, for this post, we will look at the three pet enclosures that work for the most extensive variety of pets: crates, kennels, and pens.

What is a Dog Crate?

A dog crate, also called an indoor kennel or canine cage, is designed to keep a pet safe and secure for short durations. Typically, a dog crate consists of a wire frame with a lockable door and a detachable base at the base of the container.

A dog crate gives dogs and other pets a safe place they can claim as their own space. The dog crate should give your pet a sense of being at home. It should feel like a place your pet can retreat to for rest or to avoid something frightening. 

Crates can be great for short durations or for sleeping. They are also ideal for highly territorial pets because the container provides a space that entirely belongs to them. 

However, crates can also be very confining, and many pets don’t like them because they have little to no space to move around freely once inside.

What is a Dog Kennel?

A kennel is a structure used to house dogs and other pets outdoors. Like crates, kennels are usually made from metal, wire, or plastic. Unlike crates, a kennel provides more space for a dog or pet to roam.

Kennels can be important for pet owners who do not have a fenced backyard. They allow the pet some time outside but don’t let your pet leave the yard or confront neighborhood pets. Kennels can also protect your pet from the weather if your pet happens to be outside when it starts raining.

Like crates, dog kennels aren’t meant to be permanent spaces for your pet to live. Unfortunately, many people overuse kennels for outdoor dogs, which can cause physical and emotional distress to the animals, especially if they receive little to no human interaction. That said, kennels can help with short-term confinement, especially when the weather is nice and your pet wants to be outside.

What is a Pet Pen?

A pet pen is a structure for confining the dog when you need to keep it in a specific location. These pens are similar to baby playpens, as they give your pet the space to play and explore but keep them out of areas and items they shouldn’t access.

Pet pens are bigger than dog crates. Your pet has enough space to sleep, play, eat, and relax in a pen. Pet pens also prevent your pet from running away while family members perform chores in other rooms. 

Most pet pens look like fences or child playpens. They don’t usually have a top, but they do come in different sizes and shapes. Therefore, you will need to measure your home to decide which option is best and think about how high your pet can stand or jump so that you get a pet pen with high enough edges that your pet won’t escape. 

When Should I Use a Dog Crate?

Dog crates are not the ideal place for holding your dog. However, certain situations require confining the dog in a crate. 

Short-Term Situations

Crates are designed to hold the dog for short durations. They are ideal for training or when dogs or other indoor pets are left unsupervised because the crate can keep them from harm.

Ideally, pets should not be left in cages for hours. Putting pets in a crate for more than four hours simultaneously harms their mental and physical health. Since the crate is highly confined, a dog in the cage does not have enough space to exercise. Furthermore, the caged dog is deprived of human interaction, which is essential in helping canines socialize with people. Ultimately, such a dog will likely get anxious, depressed, and antisocial.

Family Emergencies

Knowing where your furry friend is during emergencies is important to protect them from harm or interfering with the emergency team. In such circumstances, putting your pet in a dog crate is ideal, as you do not want the canine running around during a fire or barking and chasing the emergency crew.

If your dog is not confined during emergencies and you must evacuate the house quickly, you will likely leave the dog behind. This can pose major risks to the dog in cases where there are disasters such as earthquakes, fires, or hurricanes. Since you may not know whether the dog is hiding somewhere in the house or it ran away, the dog is likely to be left behind and possibly come to harm.


Since crates are designed to simulate their natural dens, they make great places for sleeping. Since dogs prefer an enclosed area to lay their heads, which gives them a sense of safety and comfort, having your dog sleep in a crate will ensure a good night's rest for your canine. Sleeping in a box reduces the dog’s anxiety as it feels safe and hidden from view.

In addition, sleeping in a crate ensures your dog does not get into trouble if and when it wakes up at night. Since dogs like to keep their sleeping spaces clean, the canine is unlikely to pee or poop in the cage.

When Pet Pens Make More Sense

Pet pens are considered better for confining your furry friend than a crate. This is because they have more room for your dog to roam freely. 

Confining Pets for Extended Periods

Unlike a crate, you can leave the dog in a pen for an extended period as the structure has enough room for moving around, food, water, toys, and a bed. Most pens have detachable pieces, which make it possible to resize the structure as the dog grows or depending on how much you want the dog to have. Just make sure you have anything your pet will need within the pet pen if you plan to enclose them for several hours.

Pet Anxiety

Pet anxiety is a common problem, especially when they are left alone for hours on end. Dogs experiencing separation anxiety are often accompanied by vocalization, soiling their surroundings, and destructive tendencies such as chewing shoes or wooden items within reach.

If your furry friend has such behaviors, it might be time to get a pet pen. The pen provides a safe space for the dog to stay while you are away. Since the dog pen has enough space, providing the dog with water, nutritious food, a comfortable place, and toys will help it calm down and cope with the anxiety better.

Pet pens can also help lower your pet’s separation anxiety more than a crate. When your pet is in a pen with transparent panels, they can still see you as you move about the house. This provides a sense of comfort for your pet, which lowers their stress levels.

Restricting Access

It only takes your dog a couple of unsupervised seconds to get into trouble. This is especially true for canines with lots of energy to burn or restless puppies. Dogs have been knocked down by vehicles when they dashed out of houses and ran across neighborhood streets. In other instances, they can rummage through clothes, knock down electronics in the house, or harass and attack people and animals, which comes with legal trouble.

To keep the dog out of trouble, you need a holding area where your dog can stay safe as you work or socialize, either at home or away. Pet pens restrict your canine to a specific location so that you do not have to worry about where your furry friend is whenever they are out of sight.

Clearly Loved Pets: Dog Pens That Make Sense

At Clearly Loved Pets, we know the bond you share with your pet is special. You need a place to keep your pet safe when you’re home or away, but you don’t want to make your pet feel trapped or afraid.

That’s exactly why we designed our clear paneled, over-sized pet pens. The design is intended for use in a family room or other central location so your pet does not feel disconnected from the family. Most importantly, the guilt of “caging” your dog is gone as you ensure safety with a comfortable, beautiful, relaxing “bedroom” for your pet.

You can check out all of our pet pen kits to find one that best suits your needs. And, if you need extra space or want to build an entirely unique design, we also sell spare pet pen parts to help you out.
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