My puppy isn't interested at all in her crate, what do I do?
by Jess Mason
My partner and I bought a lhasa apso crossed with an italian greyhound puppy. Tori is very small, very well behaved with a fantastic temperament.
The problem I'm having is that when we went to pick her up from the breeders, I noticed that not only did she live with a lot of dogs but she hadn't been housetrained/crate trained at all.
When we got her home instead of showing some interest in the crate she immediately laid down in a soft thick sided dog bed. Later that day I attempted to get her interested in the crate but she showed zero interest even when I put treats or her favourite toys in there. Simply she would back away, climb into her bed and not wanting to physically force her into the crate or traumatize her I've kept attempting to get her interested in the crate to no avail.
The main reason I wanted Tori to be crate trained is not only because of the house training but also because we have 5 cats ranging from 6 to 1 years of age. The only one to show a massive problem with Tori is our youngest who refuses to go near her. We live in a 2 bed bungalow so I can't use a gate to seal Tori off from the cats without cutting into space that was previously theirs.
Last night was her first night home and because I had gotten nowhere with the crate training I slept on the sofa to make sure a) that Tori did her 'business' on the puppy pads and b) to make sure the cats and Tori didn't get into a fight. I was very lucky that Tori didn't whine too much and let me sleep, I was also very surprised by the fact that during the night she had gone into the cat room (where the cats litter trays are) and pooped in there. There were no fights between the cats or Tori last night (at least none that woke me up) and no physical evidence of one.
However, I don't want to spend another night on the sofa 'just in case' but every website i've looked at says explicitly do not leave cats and a new puppy unsupervised. Without Tori being crate trained we can't have her in the bedroom (because of a medical condition my partner has, none of the cats are allowed in our bedroom either) but that goes against all the advice I have been given.
I don't want to force Tori and the cats together but I also don't to force Tori into a crate that she seems to dislike. What should I do?
For a young puppy (and she's an adorable pup I can see!) it sounds as though Tori is doing very well overall, and it's VERY early days right not so you really can't expect not to have some element of conflict while she settles into a home with 6 cats. Someone is bound to want to make their feelings known :)
It's not unusual for a puppy who hasn't been introduced to a crate to be suspicious of it, or disinclined to want to be in there. Plus at this age all her instincts are telling her that she needs to be close to her pack (this would keep her safe in the wild), so being separated from you will worry her. This is all normal.
It seems as though she understood what the litter box is for so you have a couple of options here.
ONE: start crate training her and ignore her initial fussing and complaining. Obviously the ideal scenario is for her to accept her crate and have time to get used to it and feel familiar there before having to spend a night in it, but many times this isn't practical. She may not like it at first and will probably cry and complain but it won't hurt her and she'll get over her upset pretty quickly.
Some puppies are more stubborn about this than others and you could be looking at anywhere between 1 and 7 days of sleepless nights depending on how well she accepts being crated. From what you say about her I would guess she'll settle down pretty quickly though. I'd strongly recommend reading my Crate Training A Puppy page for all the tips and advice you'll need to do this properly.
TWO: buy a puppy exercise pen and use that to contain her instead of a crate. Put the crate at one end and a doggie litter box at the other. This way she'll get familiar with her crate and yet not soil the floor (hopefully). I normally only recommend potty training a pup to eliminate outdoors and to use the crate and supervision to help this along. But, she's a small breed pup and this could be a temporary solution for you at night as she will likely use the litter box. I'd recommend crate training her simultaneously and only using the x-pen at night though.
As for using baby gates to contain Tori, I honestly can't see a problem with that for anyone. The cats can easily jump over the gate whenever they want to, and I imagine they will all be getting along quite happily within a few weeks anyway. In my experience cats always have the upper hand in a cat/dog relationship (and I have BIG dogs) and it's best to let them all sort things out by themselves, only getting involved if someone is actually getting hurt!
I hope this helps and puts your mind at rest some. Best of luck with that sweet pup.