Indoor Dog Gates: Creating Dog-Safe Zones

A border collie sitting in a green room looking through a white date

Whether training a puppy, separating dogs, or just carving out space for pups and people, an indoor dog gate can be an essential tool for crowd control to ensure the safety of everyone, and limit mess in your home.

A black and white dog sitting in front of a white dog gate

When To Use a Dog Gate

Separation with a dog gate should be less about isolation than about boundaries that ensure health and safety—we still recommend direct supervision. But even if your dog typically has the run of the house, gates can be a versatile tool. 

  • Separate your pup from visitors who might not feel comfortable around dogs or give your dog a quiet space to retreat and decompress from new people.
  • Got someone coming around to make household repairs? Keep your dog safely out of the way.
  • Separate multiple animals in the same household, or an energetic dog from a young child.
  • Give your trustworthy adult dog more wiggle room than their crate allows when you will be gone all day—a gated kitchen or mudroom are excellent alternatives.
  • Corral puppies in housetraining (and keep your carpets clean!).
  • Keep blind, injured, or senior dogs away from the stairs or other household hazards.
  • Maintain healthy airflow and an even temperature throughout the house in lieu of closing doors.
  • Keep your dog on one level of your home.
  • Contain the dirt and muck your dog tracks in until you have a chance to towel off muddy paws and fur.
A large, folding dog gate blocking off a wide kitchen

Choosing a Dog Gate

Whether wood, metal, or plastic (or a combination of materials); permanent installation, pressure-mounted, or freestanding—there are a lot of options out there to choose from. Here are some things to consider while shopping:

  • How sturdy is it? A dog gate is only as good as its construction. Chances are, the more you’re able to spend, the better its overall appearance, quality, and performance. 
  • The size of your dog: Choose a gate that’s tall enough so your dog can’t scale it or jump it. If you have a puppy, choose based on its anticipated size as an adult dog.
  • Your dog’s chewing habits: If you know your dog will try to gnaw their way to freedom, avoid wood, plastic, or plastic-and-mesh gates and look for metal options.
  • Keep your dog contained: Got an escape artist? Avoid plastic or mesh and freestanding gates. Go for the most “vertical” design you can find and look for something you can install permanently.
  • Ease of operation: If you have a baby on one hip, or coffee in one hand; make sure the gate is easy to use one-handed. If you have kids or grandkids, choose a gate they can operate easily, too. Avoid gates you have to step over to get from room to room; they’re inconvenient and can be a tripping hazard.
  • Portability: Can you take it with you as you move around the house or when you travel? If you need this kind of flexibility in a dog gate, make it a priority when you buy; a freestanding gate could be your best bet.
  • Door dimensions: Measure twice, buy once. If you are gating an extra-wide opening, look for a multi-panel freestanding gate, or a gate with extension panels.
  • Apartment dwellers: Look for a gate that installs easily or doesn’t require permanent installation. Freestanding or pressure-mounted gate can be great options.
  • Gates for stairs: Measure carefully and choose a gate that can be installed permanently. (Note: Never place a gate with a bottom crossbar at the top of your steps.)
  • Multiple pets: If the family cat has the freedom to come and go, consider a gate with a small, hinged cat door at the bottom. Just know that a small dog can likely get through the door. If this is an issue, opt for a gate without a cat door; cats can usually jump over obstacles easily anyway.
  • Outdoors: A dog gate can make a raised deck safer for everybody. Look for a sturdy metal gate that latches securely and resists rusting.
  • Appearance: You don’t have to choose between function and form—many dog gates can be practical and blend right in with your home.
A small yellow lab puppy sitting in front of a white dog gate

How To Use a Dog Gate

  • The right introduction is key: Ease into using the gate with simple, but effective training. Slowly introduce separation and reward your dog for good behavior. Work up to longer stints and remember patience is key. Don’t give into whining or reward problem behavior with attention, try to end separation before your dog has a chance to develop those habits.
  • Got a climber? If possible, opt for a permanently installed gate and try placing the hardware on an angle so that it leans in slightly towards your dog. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic gradient—even a small one will make climbing very difficult for most dogs. Work on slowly correcting this behavior with reinforcement training.
  • Housetraining: A dog gate can be a great housetraining tool for a new puppy but requires supervision. If you use the gate to confine your puppy in an area where they’re free to do their business at will, you’re just reinforcing that going in that area is ok. Before you put your puppy behind the dog gate, take them outside to relieve themselves Then closely supervise your puppy when you come back inside in a confined, small area. Place your puppy’s food, water, and bedding in it—their instincts will tell them not to soil that area. And consider using a dog crate in tandem with the dog gate to effectively housetrain your new puppy.

More Tips:

  • Keep the gate locked. It may seem obvious but keep your dog gate latched and locked. Especially if you have an escape artist, choose a locking gate your dog can’t hope to operate without opposable thumbs.
  • Don’t substitute a baby gate. You may be tempted to use a child or toddler gate in lieu of a dog gate, but they can be flimsy compared to a purpose-built dog gate. Use the prompts above to make sure the gate you’re buying meets your dog’s needs and fits your space.
  • Throughout all our dog’s life stages and in a variety of scenarios, dog gates are a versatile tool to help us keep our pups safe and securely contained. With a few key considerations to suit your space, you’ll find that keeping a dog gate around is an open-and-shut case. 

Shop Dogs in the Home