What Should Your Puppy Know At 4 Months Of Age?

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What should your puppy know at 4 months of age?
What should your puppy know at 4 months of age?

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, 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 then 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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Good House Manners
    • Stays off the furniture.
    • Usually not 100% at this age, but puppy is allowed more freedom around the house.
    • Can sit/down and wait for food for 30+ seconds until released.
  4.  Socialization
    1. Places – pups are usually well-behaved on these types of outings.
      • Neighborhood walks
      • Restaurants
      • Grocery Stores
      • Shopping centers
      • Movie Theaters
      • Book Stores
      • Obedience Classes
      • Indoor/Outdoor Shopping Malls
      • Hockey Games
    2. People – pups are usually “good” with meet/greets with people at this age
    3. Dogs – pups are usually “just okay” at dog meet/greets.
  5. Basic Obedience
    1. Sit – Usually close to 100% without distractions.
    2. Down – Usually close to 100% without distractions.
    3. Stay – Can sit/stay or down/stay without distractions for 30+ seconds.
    4. Come – About 80% reliable with recalls without distractions.
    5. 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 your 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 4-6 Month Old Puppy

4 month old puppy in training
4 month old puppy in training. Ehh…she’s probably a little younger in this pic.

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 understand his cues, 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 somethings 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. Bully 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.

Have you ever wondered what your puppy should know at 4 months of age? Let me start off by saying every puppy is different. However as puppy raisers we do set goals and hope to get our puppy’s on a good schedule (for potty training) and establish good puppy behaviors. #puppytraining #4montholdpuppy #4montholdpuppybehavior #4montholdpuppyschedule #4montholdpuppytraining
What should your puppy know at 4 months of age? What should you expect?

Top Picks For Our Puppies

  1. BEST PUPPY TOY
    We Like: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack - Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
  2. BEST DOG CHEW
    We Like: Best Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
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    We Like: Wellness Soft Puppy Bites - One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
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89 Comments

  1. I would agree with that advice. I lost my 11 year old male staff last November, I already had a 13 year old female staffy who is the most amazing beautiful girl with a gorgeous temperament. I got a 7 week old puppy in May and it’s probably not been as positive for her as I’d hoped. The age gap is too big, she wants a quiet life and he’s rowdy. I think waiting is sound advice. Good luck

  2. My puppy was doing great. He hit 18 weeks and now he’s a nightmare. Started peeing in the house again. Jumping on people again. Biting to the point of drawing blood on my and my husband. Resource guarding. Not sure who’s body snatched my perfect puppy but I want him back and this monster gone.

  3. I’m failing miserably at potty training my 4 mo old Springer Spaniel. I thought he almost had it a week ago and now he’s having 4-5 accidents a day inside. I am home all day so I try to anticipate his needs. We have an older dog so they both go out together. I’ve had 5 goldens and I’m sure they didn’t have this problem.
    Help!!!

  4. We are about to adopt a 4 month old Bernese/retriever/poodle cross pup, and my concerns is that he may have already developed some bad habits, and he is not completely potty trained. Should we wait for the next litter and have a pup when they are 8 weeks old, to begin training immediately.
    We have an 11 year old chessy, who is the best girl ever. I am also worried that she may feel displaced.

    1. I just got a puppy and have a 10 year old dog. My advice don’t get the puppy. There is too much difference in age. Gsulleng@gmail, com if u want to talk

  5. We have a 4 month old red fox lad and most of the training is going well. There are a couple of things we still need to work on. Did enjoy reading what you posted. I do have a question on socialization? I know it is important but how do you do that and other things in this time of COVID without putting yourself at risk?

  6. My standard poodle puppy is 16 weeks today. He is great at sitting, stop, down, off, leave it We are still working o STAY. He has a habit of moving. We just started PLACE and he’s doing well with that. At this point, his HEEL is perfection; between week 8 – 14 he was a nightmare. He is potty trained with limited accidents.

    1. That’s awesome! Everything seems to come together around this age. I have a 7 month Labrador Retriever puppy right now and she’s having a bit of regression right now. I’d love to hear updates when he gets a little bit older. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi! We just adopted a 4 month old beagle/dachshund mix. She’s wonderful and mostly trained. Sits on command, goes in her crate willingly(still whines a bit), never poops in the house, but she pees constantly. She can comfortably go every 20 minutes and pees in her sleep. The longest stretch she held her pee was about 2.5-3 hours at night. We have an appointment for the vet to see if she has any medical issues/uti. Any suggestions on how to help her hold her pee?

  8. We have a 4 month old golden retriever and she is amazing! The problem is she is still very anxious in her crate and is not the best walker. She get’s anxiety when the door closes. She also will stop walking and sit on the ground to stop walking. Any advice?

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