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So, exactly what should your puppy know at 4 months of age?
As a guide dog puppy raiser, we bring home our puppies at around 7-8 weeks old.
I’ve been raising these guide/service pups since 2006 and over that time I’ve noticed something magical seems to happen when a puppy is around 4 months old.
It’s around that time that everything clicks for a puppy. Potty accidents around the house rarely happen if, at all, crate training is a breeze, and the mouthy behavior starts to subside.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: We crate-train all of our puppies and recommend the MidWest Life Stages Double Door Crate w/ Divider. We still have and use our first MidWest Crate we bought for Linus over 13 years ago!
As I mentioned earlier we start training our puppies around 7-8 weeks old which means a 4-month-old puppy has nearly 10 weeks of training under his belt.
Of course, if you got your puppy when he was 4 months old then your expectations should be slightly quite different than what you see on today’s list.
QUICK ACCESS: If you’re having puppy training problems then you should join our Puppy Training Tips email list and get instant access to our New Puppy Owner Checklist PDF. To get started CLICK HERE.
Your Puppy Hits A Few Milestones At Around 4 Months Old
- Vaccinations – Your puppy gets his rabies vaccination which also signals the time when your puppy’s immune system is well developed. This is always a time of relief for me as I’m not as worried about the places I take my puppy.
- Feeding Schedule – We reduce our puppy’s feeding schedule by going from 1 cup of food 3 times a day to 1.5 cups of food 2 times a day. I don’t have to worry anymore about that mid-day snack. My other dogs are also happy because they don’t have to get excited about a non-existent meal (for them).
- Teeth – they start to fall out and as the teeth disappear so does the puppy’s bitey, nippy, mouthy behavior (thank goodness).
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: We feed all of our puppies Wellness Core Puppy Formula.
What Should Your Puppy Know At 4 Months Of Age?
Okay, Colby, vaccinations and feeding schedules aside what should my puppy know when he hits his 4-month birthday?
- House Training – It’s around this time that our puppy has fully grasped potty training. If not, they are usually very close with not much more than 1 accident per week.
- Crate Training – Can sleep through the night without incident. Can also stay in the crate for short periods during the day without barking, crying, howling, etc.
- Good House Manners
- Stays off the furniture.
- Usually not 100% at this age, but a puppy is allowed more freedom around the house.
- Can sit/down and wait for food for 30+ seconds until released.
- Places – pups are usually well-behaved on these types of outings.
- Neighborhood walks
- Grocery Stores
- Shopping centers
- Movie Theaters
- Book Stores
- Obedience Classes
- Indoor/Outdoor Shopping Malls
- Hockey Games
- People – pups are usually “good” with meet/greets with people at this age
- Dogs – pups are usually “just okay” at dog meet/greets.
- Places – pups are usually well-behaved on these types of outings.
- Basic Obedience
- Sit – Usually close to 100% without distractions.
- Down – Usually close to 100% without distractions.
- Stay – Can sit/stay or down/stay without distractions for 30+ seconds.
- Come – About 80% reliable with recalls without distractions.
- Heel (Loose Leash Walking) – good with loose leash walks in known places like your neighborhood.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: Puppies for Dummies is a great book that will teach you the foundations of raising and training a puppy. We highly recommend it for the new puppy owner. By the way, did I mention Puppies for Dummies was the first book I read before bringing home my rescue puppy, Linus?
A 4 to 6-Month-Old Puppy
I usually notice puppy bliss during the 4-6 month period as my puppy is still relatively small (compared to his full size) and cute, he behaves well, listens, and understands most of the basics.
However, for some reason around 6 months, puppies seem to hit a regression (at least mine do).
My pup stops listening, he no longer understands his cues, and he’s much bigger and not as easy to handle.
I feel like we always take a step back with our puppy’s training around the 6-month mark.
I think it’s kind of like the defiant teenage years we see in our human children.
So what do we do?
Anytime we hit a regression in training we take a step back and start working from the beginning.
For instance, if our puppy starts having potty accidents in the house after we’ve given him a little freedom then we’ll put him back on his leash when in the house and keep an eye on him 100% of the time.
This allows us to catch him before he has an accident in the house.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: We recently started training our puppies to alert us when they have to go potty by using a potty-training doorbell called the Smart Bell. It requires a little bit of training, but it’s a good alternative to your dog scratching up the backdoor.
How Was Archer As A 4-Month-Old Puppy?
QUICK UPDATE: It’s been several years since we first wrote this article. Archer is now a working service dog helping a little girl with a traumatic brain injury. Thank you to Cascade Service Dogs for finishing Archer’s training and placing him with his new partner.
Archer is 8 months old and I hate to say it, but he was probably a better-behaved puppy when he was 4 months old 🙁
While he may be better at some things he has regressed in others.
At 8 months Archer’s biggest bane would have to be puppy zoomies.
This is one of those things we probably should have nipped in the bud when he was a youngster.
During a Zoomies attack, Archer has been jumping on the bed willing to play the chase game with any takers (Linus).
This is a behavior we never saw in the 4-month-old version of Archer.
However, he did have puppy zoomies at 4 months and we should have managed those zoomies in a better manner to keep him in control during that frenetic behavior.
QUICK TIP: One of our favorite ways to manage puppy zoomies is to put our pup on a short 4-foot tie-down and give him his favorite chew toy. Beef Collagen Sticks work great because they can occupy your puppy for 10+ minutes giving him a chance to calm his energy.
Enough about my puppies…
What were your puppies like at 4 months? 6 months? 8 months?
Did you experience a similar bliss and regression with your puppies?
Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.
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Top Picks For Our Puppies
- BEST DOG CHEW
We Like: Beef Collagen Sticks - All of our pups love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Collagen Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
- BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.
Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.