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How to Safely Contain Your New Dog Indoors

golden lab puppy sitting behind a safety gate indoors

Are you welcoming a new pup into your family? Congratulations! Whether you’re adopting a new puppy or an older rescue dog, there are a few steps that you need to take to prepare for your pup’s arrival. This includes purchasing all the important supplies, finding a veterinarian nearby and, of course, figuring out how to safely contain your new dog indoors.

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING I WILL EARN A COMMISSION IF YOU PURCHASE THROUGH MY LINKS, AT NO COST TO YOU. FOR MORE INFO, PLEASE READ MY FULL DISCLOSURE.

When your dog first arrives at your house, everything is going to be new and different. This can be both exciting and frightening for them.

The best way to keep your pet safe (and your belongings) in the beginning is to limit his or her access to your home.

This means designated a single room or area of your home to be fully accessible to your dog at any time, and fully puppy-proofed!

Pay careful attention to any loose electrical cords, breakable items, unsecured household cleaners, and houseplants that your dog may have access to when spending time here, securing them safely or removing them altogether.

For some new dog owners, this process is easier with a specific room in the home available. For example, if you have an extra bedroom, you could designate it as the dog room.

Others, however, may find that keeping your dog safely contained in one area can be a challenge.

To help you get started, we’re going to dig into some tips and tricks for setting up your dog’s safe space.

We will also look at a variety of different pet safety gates and pens and how they can be used to safely contain your dog indoors.

Why Should I Create a Confined Living Space for My New Dog?

Creating a safe space for your new dog is going to be important for two reasons.

First, it will provide you with a place that your dog can be kept safe when you are unable to supervise him/her.

This is especially important for a young puppy. Like a toddler, they will put just about anything in their mouths, which can lead to blockages, poisoning and other health risks.

Second, your dog’s safe place will be a place that he or she can retreat to anytime that they are feeling anxious or upset and want to be left alone.

golden retriever adult dog laying on a mat inside a dog crate with the door open

Where Should I Set Up My Dog’s Safe Space?

Finding the right place for your new dog’s safe space may take a bit of planning and preparation.

The ideal space is going to offer a quiet space if your dog is feeling overwhelmed but will also be located somewhere in the center of your activity so that your dog doesn’t feel isolated.

Your dog’s safe space doesn’t necessarily need to be a whole room. Consider creating a space using pens and crates if necessary to meet your dog’s needs.

To make clean-up easy (as there will likely be at least one accident along the way), it is best to choose a space with easy-to-clean floors.

This will also help you to avoid unnecessary damage that comes from a young puppy chewing on your carpet.

Before moving your dog into his or her safe space, take a moment to check the whole space over in-depth for any potential safety concerns.

Secure electrical cords up and out of your dog’s reach or, ideally, remove them from the space.

Any medications or cleaning chemicals that are stored in that area of the home should be either stored in a locked cabinet or moved to a different temporary storage area.

Remove any items that you don’t want to be played with, chewed on, or soiled to keep them safe.

Related: ‘Which Interactive Dog Toys Are Right for Your Pup?

8 Dog Gates and Pens to Safely Contain Your New Dog Indoors

When choosing a gate or pen to contain your dog, there are a few different factors to consider.

Ideally, you want to find a solution that will add to the aesthetic of your home while also keeping your pup safely contained.

For larger options, an easy-to-use gate will allow both you and your dog to comfortably move in and out of the space throughout the day.

Standard Wire Crate

The most common solution for containing a dog, the standard wire case is a great tool for potty training your new dog. However, it should not be used for an extended period.

Unlike some of the other options on this list, the crate does not provide room for your dog to move around and play.

Instead, the crate is best used as a place to sleep at night, as well as for a ‘den’ or sleeping area when used within a larger pet-friendly place.

When choosing a crate, you want to ensure that there is enough room for your dog to stand up and turn around comfortably.

Many brands offer a movable wall within the cage to adjust the size as your dog grows.

Each of our dogs was crate trained when first brought into the house both for safety reasons and to ensure that they will be more comfortable if they ever need to be kenneled at a vet’s office or other emergencies.

Currently, we are crate training the new puppy, using this as a space for him to sleep.

During the day, the crate is left open for Lucifer (our new puppy) to come and go as he sees fit.

For those that may be concerned about the dog’s comfort level, both Daviana and Indiana (our older dogs) still choose to sleep in the open crate quite frequently.

Soft-Sided Dog Crate

A soft-sided crate is designed to be used in the same way as a wire crate, but it is made from durable polyester fabric.

These crates are a great option for already trained dogs when on the move, folding up for a convenient and lightweight travel solution.

However, the fabric and mesh sides are not going to contain a dog that is determined to escape.

While a soft-sided crate is not recommended for a new dog, it’s a great way to give crate-trained dogs their comfortable den space for the rest of their lives.  

Foldable Pet Playpen

Like the soft-sided crate, foldable playpens are made from mesh and durable fabric to create a lightweight safe space for your pup.

Many of these playpens have the option to be used with or without a waterproof fabric bottom.

Mesh windows on all sides as well as the top of the pen provide your dog with significant airflow to keep them comfortable both indoors and outdoors in a wide variety of situations.

The waterproof fabric is easy to clean by wiping it down with a wet cloth or hosing it down if necessary.

Related: ‘When Can My Puppy Go Outside?

Folding down completely flat in a convenient carrying bag, this playpen is a great travel solution!

Unfortunately, they are only available in limited sizes meaning that while they are perfect for smaller breeds and puppies, there isn’t enough space for larger dogs.

We do have a foldable playpen that we use to create a safe, contained outdoor space for our cats Pippen and Jinx both at home and while camping.

Standard Safety Gate

A great solution for safely containing your dog is to set aside a single room that will be fully puppy proofed.

Some common rooms used for this purpose are the kitchen, a bathroom, or a spare bedroom.

Using a safety gate opens up the space while still preventing your dog from getting by, giving your dog the feeling that he or she is still ‘part of the pack’.

They are commonly made from wood, metal and/or plastic, and can be purchased in a variety of different heights and widths.

Safety gates are also a great way to prevent your dog from going up or down the stairs.

Walk-Through Safety Gate

A walk-through safety gate works in the same way as a standard safety gate; however, it offers a convenient door to allow you to move through the entryway without having move the gate entirely or step over it.

These are a great choice if you are trying to block off a doorway that’s highly trafficked.

We love using walk-through safety gates for my office doorway, the indoor stair ways and even on the stairway up to our above-ground pool deck.

If you have a larger dog or a puppy that is going to grow to be larger, you may want to consider choosing an extra-tall gate so that it will keep them contained in the future as well.

For multi-species homes, you can also purchase walk-through gates that feature convenient cat doors.  

Plastic Freestanding Pet Playpen

A lightweight playpen option for smaller dogs that can easily be set-up indoors or outdoors, a plastic freestanding pen gives you the freedom to contain your dog anywhere without worrying about walls or set rooms.

If you would prefer to have your dog close at hand in your living room, but don’t want to provide access to the whole room, a pen like this is a great solution.

When setting it up, pay careful attention to anything just outside of the pen that your dog may be able to reach, such as electrical cords or curtains as they may pull them into the pen to chew on them.

This is also a great option for anyone that may need to easily move their dog’s safe space to different rooms at different times in the day.

Wire Freestanding Exercise Pen

If you are looking for an option to safely contain your new dog indoors that is highly versatile, a metal exercise pen is the perfect solution!

In fact, this is, without my favourite option on this list and one that we have been using daily.

Like plastic pens, metal exercise pens are made from several panels attached together to create an enclosed space that can be used indoors or outdoors. However, their usefulness doesn’t end there.

In addition to working as a freestanding exercise pen, you can also leave the one connector unattached creating an extra-long wire gate or fence.

Indoors, this can be used to block wider entry ways, restrict access to a specific part of a room or prevent your dog from accessing important higher-risk items, like the family Christmas tree.

You can also attach 2 or more pens together to create a larger pen or fence, if needed.

You can also attach the ends of the ‘fence’ to your dog’s crate or another surface to use it as an extended pen area.

When not in use, the pens fold down flat, making it easy to bring them along for family vacations or visiting friends/family.

Related: ‘How Early Should You Start Leash Training A Puppy?

We have 2 pens currently that we bring along when we are camping with our pups.

Attaching the two together, we then attach each end of the ‘fence’ that they create to one side of the doorway into our dining shelter.

This extends our dining shelter space significantly, while still offering a covered area that they can retreat to for shade or protection from the elements.

It also means that we can avoid fighting with tie ups while camping in parks with leash laws in place, as they are all safely contained in the pen.

For those with larger dogs, or puppies that are larger breeds and will be growing beyond the height of many dog pen options, there are a variety of different heights available.

A good friend of mine also uses these as a camping solution with her Irish Wolfhound!

Wooden-Framed Gate/Playpen

For those that want the convenience of a plastic or wired pen with the aesthetic of a higher-end wooden fence, this combination wood and wire pen is a great solution.

The simple, white wooden frame is a great match for any décor while the wire fencing provides air flow and visibility.

Slightly smaller than the wire pen, there are only 6 panels included with this set.

However, extension kits can be purchased to add length when needed.

Whatever you decide, know that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer if your dog’s needs are being met.

This includes protecting them from danger, providing them with exercise and mental stimulation and, of course, meeting their need for love and social interaction.

At the end of the day, it’s all about finding the perfect solution for you and your dog!

Golden lab puppy sitting behind a safety gate indoors. Text announces you can safely contain your new dog indoors with these pens and safety gates

Dog owners, what solutions do you rely on to safely contain your dog indoors? Feel free to share your set-up with the community in the comment section!

About Author

Britt is a digital/social media marketer and the owner of The Social Alternative. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending her time with her ‘pack’ which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs Daviana and Indiana and their 2 cats Pippen and Jinx. A proud pet mom, she shares all her pet-related tips, tricks and funny pet antics on Shed Happens.

50 Comments

  • Stephanie Renee
    August 24, 2021 at 10:57 am

    This post provided great information, and I too think it is so important to have a space that is just for your family dog. A space that they can feel safe, and they can go to when they are feeling overwhelmed. When we had our pug, I made a space that was just for him. We noticed that after vet visits, or just a day at the dog park, he would retreat to that spot. It was quiet, and a space for him to just be, and feel at peace. I loved that he enjoyed that spot so much.

    Reply
    • Britt
      August 24, 2021 at 3:32 pm

      Yes! While we don’t really use the crate anymore for our older dogs, they still have a spot that we recognize is their safe place to retreat and we make sure that the other pets leave them alone if they are headed there. It means that they need some ‘alone time’ and we are sure to respect that.

      Reply
  • Unwanted Life
    August 25, 2021 at 7:36 am

    Using crates seems to be a North American thing, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard or seen them be used in the UK. We just use dog beds. When I had a dog growing up, my mum used a child gate if she wanted to keep our dog out of a particular area

    Reply
    • Britt
      August 27, 2021 at 11:01 am

      I think the popularity may partially come back to the fact that ‘open concept’ is such a popular design feature here. That makes it difficult to restrict your dog to a single room with a gate due to the fact there are no walls/doors between many of the rooms to place a gate.

      Reply
  • Fadima Mooneira
    August 25, 2021 at 7:46 am

    This is a good guide for new and soon to be dog owners. I’m not welcoming a dog or even any pets at the moment. But I just want to read your latest post. I haven’t visit your blog for quite a long time. Glad that you are doing good. Good post btw.

    Reply
    • Britt
      August 27, 2021 at 10:59 am

      Thank you! I enjoyed swinging over to your blog and seeing what you have been up to as well!!

      Reply
  • Lisa
    August 25, 2021 at 7:57 am

    Goodness, I had no idea what was involved in taking on a dog – Flora and Alan are both keen but I’m resisting as we have 3 cats and I don’t want to upset them – also I’m not convinced Flora would do her share of dog walking either! I’ll have to show them this page, so they can see what they might be letting themselves in for!

    Reply
    • Britt
      August 27, 2021 at 10:40 am

      They can all exist peacefully, we currently have 3 dogs and 2 cats in the house. That being said, we’re going through the stage of teaching the youngest pup to respect the cats now and remembering how much work we put into training the first 2 lol

      Reply
  • Molly @ Transatlantic Notes
    August 25, 2021 at 9:12 am

    Your breakdown of this info is really great — makes understanding it all much easier! I haven’t had a pet dog for a long time now and I really hope to get one again soon so this will be really useful when I do. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • Britt
      August 27, 2021 at 10:38 am

      They add so much joy to our lives! However, a little extra planning and preparation can help you avoid unnecessary stress lol Creating a ‘safe space’ is a great example of how to do this.

      Reply
  • Nkem
    August 25, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    Great post, as always! I have been thinking of bringing a dog into my life and it’s great to know about all these nuances I wouldn’t have considered!

    Reply
    • Britt
      August 27, 2021 at 10:27 am

      If you do, creating a safe space is very important. This is something that keeps your dog out of trouble and protects your home from unnecessary damage.

      Reply
  • Jaya Avendel
    August 25, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    My dog is an outdoor dog but she just went through surgery and has to spent a couple weeks indoors. Loved reading this list to get some ideas of how I can make her space safe and fun! So far she loves her wire crate and we got her a cosy dog bed. No safety gate yet but I need one!

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Reply
    • Britt
      August 27, 2021 at 10:26 am

      If you’re investing in a safety gate, I HIGHLY recommend getting one with the walk-through option. You can pick them up pretty cheap on sale so it’s not much more but the hassle of climbing over/moving the gate each time versus being able to just easily pop the doorway open is a BIG selling point for me lol

      Reply
  • Charity
    August 25, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    these are such great ideas for safely containing dogs indoors. I will keep this in mind if we ever get a dog as well! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Britt
      August 27, 2021 at 10:25 am

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • Seriah Sargenton
    August 27, 2021 at 8:38 am

    When my dog was younger, we dedicated a special spot in the bedroom which she still uses when she feels anxious or sick.

    Reply
    • Britt
      August 27, 2021 at 10:23 am

      It’s such an important step to give them a place that they know is ‘safe’ regardless of what they are feeling. We’ve done it with all of our pets as we introduced each to the house (and during each move) and they all continue to use their ‘safe space’ when they feel that they need it.

      Reply
  • Karalee Shotola
    August 27, 2021 at 9:43 am

    This is such a helpful post! My parents always used the safety gates in the kitchen/dining area since it was the only room without carpet & any puppy accidents could easily be cleaned up.

    Reply
    • Britt
      August 27, 2021 at 11:06 am

      Carpet can be SO frustrating during the housebreaking process! Our current house has NO carpet and going that route was definitely strategic lol

      Reply
  • Gerald Godinho
    August 27, 2021 at 9:55 am

    Britt an excellent piece on welcoming a new dog into the home. They are living and breathing beings and need to be treated with love and respect. I love how in detail you mention everything and the different things we need to do. It really reminded me of when we brought jean from the hospital and as she grew up keeping the place safe for her. Thanks for this wonderful write-up and an amazing blog. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • Britt
      August 27, 2021 at 11:03 am

      Yes, the need for a ‘safe space’ is very similar to when you bring home a child. In fact, I’ve often heard the comparison being made between puppies and toddlers because they also try to get into everything and put everything in their mouths lol

      Reply
  • Rosie Ireland
    August 27, 2021 at 10:08 am

    Great information as always!
    Rosie

    Reply
    • Britt
      August 27, 2021 at 11:01 am

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • Kamira Gayle
    August 27, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    I’m not a dog person, however, have fostered cats in the past and am very familiar with the standard metal crates. However, I did not know about the soft-sided versions. This is great to know there are more versions suitable for smaller spaces and storage. Thanks for sharing these options to safely contain your dogs.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 1, 2021 at 1:24 pm

      One of the soft-sided crates that we have here is smaller specifically for bringing our cats to the vet. I love that it folds down almost completely flat due to the material. It stores away SO easily when it’s not in use!

      Reply
  • Michelle & The Paw Pack
    August 28, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Those are great options for keeping a puppy confined. I still use some of those items, even though it’s been years since I’ve had a puppy. My dogs are 6 and 12, but are still convinced they’re puppies sometimes lol.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 1, 2021 at 1:22 pm

      We still use some of them too! For example, my 13-year-old loves trying to run up and down the stairs and I’m worried she’s going to trip one of these days… she won’t spring back from a fall the way she used to. So, even before Lucifer came to live with us, we already had gates set up at the top and bottom of our stairs.

      Reply
  • Terri
    August 28, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    Great information! I especially liked about how to look for electrical cords and puppy or dog proofing a safe place. I know my rescue likes his safe place, which is under my bed whenever he gets scared.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 1, 2021 at 1:22 pm

      It can really help them adjust and feel more confident when they know that their safe place is available to them if needed.

      Reply
  • Robin
    August 29, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    Wow! There are so many options to safely contain your dog indoors! Crate training seems like a necessity for dogs. Everyone deserves to have a place that they can feel is their own. I really like the idea of the gates with cat doors as I have 2 cats. This is information that anyone thinking about getting a new dog should save.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 1, 2021 at 1:21 pm

      My first couple of safety gates didn’t have the cat doors and our cats would just jump over them if necessary. Unfortunately, our dogs then learned to jump over the shorter ones too (by watching the cats lol). When I saw the taller gate with a cat door on it the first time, I was instantly sold!

      Reply
  • Marjorie at Dash Kitten
    August 29, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    It never occured to me that I might have to do this! Yikes, I thought the average dog knew how to do this. I am guessing this is why I have cats eh?

    I love the good sense you talk, and the range of containment systems there are available!

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 1, 2021 at 1:20 pm

      Puppies are SO bad for getting into anything and everything if it’s available lol It’s not that they want to cause trouble, they are just curious. For some, they grow out of this, others don’t nearly as much. I’m lucky that both of our older dogs did lol Here’s hoping Lucifer will as well with the right training

      Reply
  • Ruth Epstein
    August 29, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    Great information and ideas, as I live in a studio when I adopted Layla she had the run of the house but I child proofed it for her and thank goodness we had no problems or damage. The only thing she chewed was a tissue LOL. I do have for her for her own space she shed as such is a wooden fruit box which I turned into an indoor kennel and is open all the time (no door), she goes in and out when she wants to.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 1, 2021 at 1:19 pm

      Having that place that they can retreat to is so important. Our one dog decided that space would be the area behind a lazyboy chair in our living room so we’ve since moved a bed there to accommodate her wishes lol I mean, she’s not bothering us back there, so why not? Right?

      Reply
  • Jana Rade
    August 29, 2021 at 7:10 pm

    I confess that we only tried crate training once with my first dog. She didn’t like the idea. Because I’ve been working at home, I didn’t force the issue and never crated any of my dogs even though it would have made my life easier at times. Instead, I made sure I kept my eye on the new furry family members until they could be trusted not to get themselves in trouble.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 1, 2021 at 1:18 pm

      That’s how we did it in the past with one of my dogs. With these 3 we crate trained for a variety of different reasons which definitely helped. That being said, Lucifer (for example) is only in his crate at night. During the day we have him downstairs with me and use xpens and safety gates to block off a smaller, safer portion of the house.

      Reply
  • Nikki, RVT
    August 30, 2021 at 9:41 am

    Oh my gosh! I wish I had this post 8 years ago when I brought my puppies home. We ended up with such a crazy mess, and potty training issues when they were little, and I think a lot of it came from not having a good home set-up. Definitely going to refer back to this post later when we get a new puppy!

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 1, 2021 at 1:07 pm

      I’ve made that mistake in the past as well. This time, with Lucifer, we were much more careful about getting everything set up before he came home. It has worked beautifully.

      Reply
  • Beth
    August 30, 2021 at 10:07 am

    Confining a new pet in one area can be important for so many reasons, and it is great to see so many different options. All of our dogs are crate trained, which has been helpful in all sorts of situations, including when the EMTs had to come to our house when I broke my arm. In addition to crates, we have dog gates which are really helpful when my daughter’s dogs come to visit.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 1, 2021 at 12:47 pm

      Our two older dogs rarely spend time in the crates any longer, but I feel a lot more comfortable knowing that they would be comfortable if it’s needed.

      Reply
  • Cathy Armato
    August 30, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    It’s so important not to bring a new dog/puppy home & let them explore every inch, deciding what space they want to claim. It’s safer and better all around to set those boundaries yourself. I use a crate for my new pups, and as you suggest, they should be in an area where they’re close to everyone and not feel left out or isolated. I love the idea of joining 2 pens together! People always fret about pen sizes & if they’ll be big enough – join them together, what a simple solution!

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 1, 2021 at 12:45 pm

      I’m lucky in that my home office is directly connected to the living room, which is the room where we primarily keep the puppy at this point. I love that I can open the door between them and let him have 2 rooms when I’m working, blocking off the large doorway to the dining room with an xpen lol

      Reply
  • Lyosha
    August 31, 2021 at 7:50 am

    great post! it is so much needed! when we took second dog home we had some trouble organizing the place (basically our move was propounded and we stayed in the house too little for both of them for extra two months), I wish I read that post back than

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 1, 2021 at 12:43 pm

      It can be such a challenge navigating a small space with pets, can’t it? Especially if they are just meeting one another and haven’t established a relationship yet. They both want their own space lol

      Reply
  • Erica (The Prepping Wife)
    August 31, 2021 at 8:11 am

    I haven’t made it to the point that I’m ready to bring a puppy or a rescue dog home yet. But I can totally relate to the need for a safe space for a pet. My cat is getting up there in years, and is unfortunately going blind. Which means he is in the way quite often, because he can’t see us. So I find him in some odd places at times. But he has a box in between the dining and living room that he can go in and just hang out. It’s completely enclosed, except for the entrance, and he loves it. He can sleep, or just relax. The funny thing is that it’s just a box from Costco that once held frozen broccoli. Lol. But it is totally perfect for him. That is his safe space.

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 1, 2021 at 12:40 pm

      It’s funny how they gravitate to the simplest things, isn’t it? We have a linen closet that Pippen, our older cat, has decided is her personal bedroom. We had to put a small nail into the door frame to stop the door from completely closing because she would go in there and the dogs would lock her in while I was making the bed and stuff like that lol It was just easier to let her have it hahaha

      Reply
  • Sophie Harriet
    September 4, 2021 at 4:44 am

    I remember having to keep my cats indoors for a while when I first got them. We kept them in one room for the first day or so, to let them gradually adjust to their new surroundings, and then we gave them the run of the whole house. We just had to be careful not to let them out accidentally or leave any doors open! x

    Reply
    • Britt
      September 7, 2021 at 10:29 am

      Yes, not just giving a new pet full run of the house is an important first step. It’s all an adjustment phase but it’s worth it.

      Reply

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