› Puppy Play Area Set-Up

Yankee's System for a Puppy Play Area

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I've had quite a few people ask how I set up my latest prototype of a puppy play area and where I get the supplies. So I figured it made sense to put everything on this page.

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The Crate

First off there is the crate. Yes, this is a big one. When you have a litter of puppies, it's a good size to house them all.

And even when you have a single puppy you are bringing home, it gives room for the puppy to eat and sleep in a clean area with the attached pen being their "great outdoors".

This is being modelled by the lovely Miss Halley. a full grown sheltie.

It is 48" long and 30" wide and 33" high. It comes with a divider that I use when the litter is too young to make it out of the crate into the play area. But by time you have picked up your new puppy at 8 weeks, you won't need the divider.

Why 48" long? Because the exercise pen's panels are 24" each so when I hook up the pen to the side of the crate, it makes for a nice rectangular puppy play area. (Yes, I'm a bit OCD). You can buy the crate you see in these photos, here:


Inside the crate you place either

  • a fleece if you want it cozy warm, or
  • a washable puppy pee pad

Most fleece I have bought from pet stores and the like are garbage. Wash them once and all the pile gets balled up and there is no cushion. There are only 2 companies I like and use. Pro- Fleece is from the UK and can only be bought in Canada. So if you want to pay the extra for "importing", go for it, but I found the US made version just as good and easier to get.

What's really nice about the fleece is when the puppy makes a mistake (WHAT?!?!? a mistake?!?!?) and pees in the crate, the urine goes right through the fleece so the puppy stays dry. Just put newspaper or a puppy pee pad underneath to absorb the urine.

You can buy the fleece here and cut the piece to 48" x 30" to fit the crate. Depending how pressed you are for time, you may want to buy 2 one for the crate and the other getting washed:

Keeping the crate area as clean and odor free (as in; "can your puppy smell the urine?", not you) so that he is more apt to go to his "outside" play area.  That means washing the fleece and replacing the newspaper and cleaning the crate pan regularly. I've used a bunch of different cleaners and this seems to control odors the best. You can buy the cleaner I use here:

Now let's say it's summer time and your puppy doesn't need the warmth of fleece. You can use washable puppy pee pads. Again, one in the crate, one in the wash. These come with vinyl backing so no newspaper is required to absorb urine.

This brand is pretty cheap, durable and a tad big so I just fold one side under to fit in the crate:

I have tried using disposable pee pads, but unless you can securely hide them under something puppies can't get under, forget it. They LOVE to shred and eat the disposables and eating plastic doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

The Puppy Play Area

Moving on to the puppy play area....

It's the beginning of them learning that their den is to be kept clean and they go "outside" to pee and poo. So those of you who work all day, you don't have to worry the puppy is trying to hold it for 8 hours.

Traditionally, one uses newspaper. However, not only will the puppy end up pretty wet by the end of the day, the ink from the newspaper will make him pretty dirty looking. Washable pee pads are an option as it gets rid of the dirty aspects but not the wet so much.

I recently came across this 1' x1' tile that seems to fit the situation perfectly. The tiles drain liquids so the puppy stays dry, the holes are small enough not to be a problem for tiny sheltie feet, and if the puppy has firm stool, gently picking up with a tissue leaves the tile mostly clean.

But let's say the puppy squishes the poop. Hey, it happens. I use a paper towel to get up what I can, spray the area with cleaner and use a bristle toilet bowl brush to clean the rest. 

This leaves some of the poo and all of the pee below the surface, which can be newspaper, disposable pee pads (puppies can't get to them with these tiles), or the washable pee pads.

Depending on the amount of excrement produced by your puppy removing the tile and replacing the absorbant layer beneath can be done every few days. 

Obviously, when dealing with an entire litter of puppies, things build up faster and there are mornings when it is just easier to break the flooring down in sections, bring it outside and hose it off.

The tile snaps apart and together again very easily. I break it into 3 sections of 2' x 4'.

Here's where you can get the tile:

Now if you are placing this puppy play area on vinyl flooring, you just need a layer of newspaper, the tile and you are done. If you are placing it on a floor you want to protect, you need to go to Home Depot or a flooring place to get whatever cheap vinyl floor remnant you can. If you try to use some sort of soft sheeting like tarp or painting dropcloth, you may find cleaning it to be a pain. Stiff makes it easier to clean.

Next is the exercise pen. I find 24" high sufficient to enclose the drain tile floor area. However if you are worried you have your very own Houdini, you can get taller. You can get the exercise pen shown in the photos here: 

I hook it onto the crate with the enclosed clips, though you can buy extras at any hardware store.

See how the two panels on the end are 48" and make for a perfect fit? <SIGH>, how i do love a good rectangle.

Also, notice in the photo below, 1) wood floor, 2) vinyl remnant, 3) washable pee pad (or you could use newspaper and just throw it away rather than have to wash, and 4) the drain tiles. PERFECTION!!! 

The final piece is the bar I put on top to prevent the panels around the puppy play area from going askew when the puppies jump on it. Since my pen pictured here is against a wall, I only need the bars on two of the three sides. You have to saw the bar or use a dremel to cut it the right lengths. Then you shove it down over the panels, and voila! a sturdy puppy play area.

You can buy the bars here:

And that as they say, is all she wrote. Have fun!

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