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How old is Ernie?

I would definitely recommend crate training. Definitely you want to make sure the crate is a happy place and not just the place he has to go whenever you leave. With our pups we usually have "nap time" which is mandatory crate time. They don't *have* to sleep, but they do need to rest quietly in the crate.

Our day would go in the following pattern:
Wake up and go straight outside to potty.
Back inside until morning walk.
Morning walk, have time to get a drink/find an interesting toy then into the crate for "nap time" (with toy...if really just starting crate training, then also feed breakfast in the crate so they WANT to go in) for 1-2 hours.
Out of crate, straight to potty (doesn't HAVE to potty, but goes outside for opportunity).
Back inside, free play for a couple hours.
Afternoon walk, after the walk back in the crate for another "nap time" with a toy (or stuffed kong)
Out of crate, straight to potty.
Free time play
Dinner (fed in crate)
Free time play
Out to potty around 10:30ish then straight to bed
- if a very young puppy then they get a potty walk between 3-5 AM depending on age and their bladder routine.


If your dog is REALLY fighting the crate training you can do very slow introduction where they are put in, and they cry it out as soon as they've stopped crying for 10 seconds -- you let them out. Repeat over and over for a days/weeks until it's 20 seconds, 30 seconds, etc until the dog learns that you want them quiet and relaxed. I've never had to go this route as all my dogs have taken to their crates quite easily but it is a method I hear works for those trickier cases.
 

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Hmm 1 or 2 is definitely old enough that he should be able to sleep through the night without needing to do business. However it definitely sounds like that is the issue at the moment.

What time does he last go out before bed? (so currently how many hours is he going between outside trips)

If he's only holding it for 5-6 hours (i.e. he goes out at 10 and is up again at 4), then I think a trip to the vet is in order. It might be he has an infection or something else that is causing him to not be able to hold it longer.

If all is ruled well you could try making his morning meal his bigger meal with an afternoon/evening "snack" instead of dinner plus restricting his access to water after 8 PM ish. Essentially make it so that he is as "empty" as possible before bed.

Unless 6 AM is when YOU are getting up anyway, that's still awful early. I think crating him in a room you can't hear is the way to go. Continue with taking him out at 4 AM until you have pinpointed a solution so he doesn't need to go out at that time, but after he's done both businesses he's in the crate until your schedule says your up. He can cry all he wants, but he gets let out when you're starting your day, not when he wants to start his day.
 
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