Is Eight Weeks-Old Too Young To Crate Train Your Dog?

Hi, Adam: IĀ got an 8 week old puppy from a person that just let him run free in his house. I am assuming that the puppy was free to potty any where and it was just cleaned up instead of working on training him to go in a certain place. Now enter me who is trying to crate and potty train. I put him into his crate and he sits there and whines, cries, and scratches at the door. I know 8 weeks is young but he potties everywhere and anywhere, doesn’t matter, in the pen or on the floor. I take him outside and he sits at my feet whining until I bring him in and then he potties. I just purchased your book and am reading it but I need help fast and there is just so much to absorb. Any advice is greatly appreciated. I just got a new house and can’t have him going everywhere.

Adam replies:

Hi, Gini:

No, it’s never too late to start. In fact, we recommend that you start as soon as you get your new dog– regardless of his age.

In the beginning, expect it to take 2-4 days, before the puppy acclimates to the crate.

Watch these videos. It’s a good “quick start”

You might want to focus on this department, too:

Some of the articles jump back and forth, between mentioning “adult” and “puppy”. I’m trying to clean this up. We hired a search engine optimization company, and they ended up doing more harm than good. I think you’ll get the general idea, though. If you have further questions, just post a new question at the top of the forum. We’re here to help you.

– Adam.


Getting a timid dog out of her crate to potty

JMDay writes to me: “Hi – we adopted a shelter dog two weeks ago. She is a lab mix (emphasis on mix) and is extremely timid. According to the shelter, our girl is about 4-5 months old and was dumped in a bar ditch along the highway. She had lived at the shelter for a couple of months before we got her. Our vet has checked her out and says she is healthy. My husband and I are attempting to crate train her and want the crate to be her “safe” place. The challenge is getting her out of the crate to go outside to potty. There are no children in the house and we have another 10 year old dog that virtually ignores her. She will allow us to approach her and pet her. She “cowers” in the corner when we attempt to remove her. We know we must be very patient and kind, but we’re frustrated that getting her in or out of the crate is an ordeal without picking her up. Any suggestions… and thanks! ”

Adam replies:

It’s not an issue of being “patient and kind”. We already know you’re that kind of person, because you adopted a dog like this in the first place.

Here’s the real secret to helping a timid dog get over their timidity: You ignore the timidity. You treat them just like you would a normal dog. If she won’t get out of the crate, you call her name and then immediately reach in and BRING HER OUT. She will gain confidence by DOING. Doing activities.

But she needs you to make her do these activities. That means: You make her do it, you don’t “ask her” to do it, and then wait to see if she has the confidence to do it or not. You make her do it, and then after she does it a couple of times, she pokes her head up toward the sky and says to herself, “Hey– I just did that!”

This builds confidence in your leadership, too.

The trick is to make it “no big deal.”

When you make her sit, do not allow her to droop her head down. Sit means: Sit with your head held high.

You make the body do it, and the dog’s mind will follow.

Make sense?

Please keep me posted of your progress.


Crate Training – Teach Your Dog To Get In His Crate On Command

This is a really great trick to teach your dog. First, your dog should view his crate as a “safe place.” A place to go when he’s tired, to take a nap or to just be left alone. Here is the fastest and easiest way to teach your dog to get in his crate, on command. It’s especially useful for if you have unexpected company and don’t want your dog to ‘get in the way.

Start by palming a cookie in your right hand. Put the training collar and leash on your dog. Walk him up to the crate and make him sit. Now, say, “Get in the crate!” Toss the cookie in the crate, and then pull forward on the leash, in the direction of the open crate. As he moves into the crate, he’ll automatically release the tension on the leash. Close the door to the crate, and tell him, “Good dog!” as he munches on the cookie. Next, open the crate door and tell him, “Free!” When he comes out, praise him lavishly. Repeat this exercise, four times. After the fourth time, open the crate door, take the leash and training collar off, give him another cookie and close the crate door.

In 20 minutes, you can return and repeat this exercise. After you’ve done this a few times and see your dog start to ANTICIPATE the command, the next thing to do is only give him the cookie once every third time. At this point, he’ll likely begin running into the crate before you even tell him to. You’ll need to tell him, “No!” and pull him out of the crate. No praise. Remember–he can go on the crate on his own when you’re not standing next to him, but as this is a formal exercise, we want him to wait for the command. This sounds confusing, and it is for the human mind. But it’s one of those things that your dog will understand naturally. Trust me–I know this from experience.

After you’ve brought him out of the crate, he’ll start looking at you for the “Get in the crate” command. Give him the command. Reward him this time with the cookie. You’ll start to see that he’ll begin looking to you… waiting for that magic command that allows him to dive into the crate and get your praise. (Note: If your dog is more motivated by a toy or something else (No, not the cat!!!) you can use whatever you want. The idea is to use a motivator. The reason you want to pull forward on the leash instead of just throwing the food/ball/motivator into the crate is so that your dog learns that you are actually making him do it. This is the difference between using food as a motivator vs. using food as a bribe. If the food isn’t there, you’re going to make him do it anyway.