What Should Your Puppy Know At 4 Months Of Age?

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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.

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

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?

  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 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 4-6 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 understands 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 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. 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

    We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
    We Like: Mighty Paw Naturals Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
    We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
    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.

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  1. Hi, thank you for this article. My family adopted a sweet shepherd mix puppy one week ago. He was 14 weeks. It’s helpful to know that he won’t have all the training you described under his belt in one week’s time when he will be 16 weeks. He’s picking things up quickly, though!

    I also appreciate knowing about puppy zoomies! I’ve seen it and now know what it is!

    Best wishes,


    1. The best way to guess the size of your dog when full grown is to look at the parents. If you don’t know the parents then you can ask you vet to take a guess based on her current size. Just knowing a dog is a Lab mix makes it difficult because you don’t really know what other breeds your dog is mixed with. We’ve had dogs we’ve fostered from the rescue who were labeled “Lab mix” and ranged from 20 pounds to over 100 pounds.

  2. Hi. I have a 4 month American Labrador and he is doing really well with the lead walking,call back off his lead and with the house training,he hasn’t had a accident in almost a month and his butting was starting to subside until he hit the 4 months and now he has a few bit outburst of jumping at you and biting a lot. Please tell me this is just a faze and he will calm down again as all what we used to do to make him stop before is not working this time. Any tips welcome.

  3. How pleased we are to have found your website. We happen to have a 4 month old Pyredoodle and she is wonderful. We purchased her as an ESA for me. She and I have bonded and get along well except when we are outside and other dogs give her grief or want to play rough. I am sure that will change as she grows…Hoping it changes!!! Thank you for sharing information…much appreciated.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience. With all dogs and puppies it’s important to supervise play. I’m sure your puppy will mature as she gets older. Good luck with your training!

  4. We have a 5 year old 50 lb mixed breed who loves people (except for one shady neighbor) and other dogs except for two – A Bassett with aggression issues and a doberman. The biggest reaction comes from the large doberman. She can smell that dog a block away. Inside the house, on the fenced porch, or on a walk she absolutely hates that dog. Other dogs don’t like this dog, either. Our vet said that it could be that this dog’s body language is causing a reaction. It’s owner keeps it next to them on walks, never socialized it, and I’ve never seen it play or so much as relax. I feel sorry for it. Any other dog we meet, big or small, she immediately goes into tail wagging happy mode and wants to play. I don’t expect her to ever become best friends with this dog but it’d be nice if it didn’t cause her so much panic.

  5. I got my 5and a half month old puppy at 4 months from a puppy rescue ,He I now been with me 6 weeks he was sitting on command come on command and going potty outside every time I took him out he was rewarded with high praise and high value treats! He even started going for his leash when he had to go out X We may have had 1 accident per day! About a week ago he started to regress going potty in in the house even though we go out often! He refuses to come or sit or lay on command cant grasp leave it or off he does sleep thru the night! He is nipping and biting me when I pet him or rub his tummy and often when he wants my full attention like if I’m on the phone ect he wont heal pulls when walking! I want him trained as a ptsd dog after he has all his regular training! I started to teather him to me today he didnt like it and took 30 mins to settle down he takes stuff and runs with it! He gets plenty of play attention and exorsize He is an Aussie so I know the breed is very active busy and also smart! I self trained my last Aussie and he was very well behaved everywhere we went! I’m worn out lol please help!

    1. One thing I notice and I think I mention this in the article is that my puppies do great at around 4 months, but around the time they hit 6 months they act like they forgot everything. Number 1 for me is to stay consistent, persistent, and patient with training. With my pups by the time we hit 12 months they are pretty well behaved. If he’s regressing in his training try taking a step back and start over with the basics when it comes to the commands your teaching. Another thing you might look into is having a certified professional dog trainer help you with training especially if it’s your goal to train your dog to be a PTSD Service Dog.

  6. I have a 4 month old puppy who is still a little nippy (only when petting), but is 100% on his commands in a non-distracting environment. My two biggest issues:
    1. He seems to be well kennel trained and can sleep through the night. But about once a week he regresses and yips to be let out. I ignore it but as his attention span gets longer it seems it takes longer for him to settle.
    2. On walks he is pretty well behaved unless he sees another dog. Then the sight of the dog is so overwhelming that he pulls and I cannot recapture his attention even with the use of high-value treats. He has met many dogs in his short life so far so I am not sure how to get him to understand that this is no big deal.

  7. I have had my puppy for 2 months. She is 4 months old. I would go out with her 15 to 20 times a day. She doesn’t seem to be bothered by the snow. She was doing pretty good. She sleeps through the night and I take her out first thing. She is still peeing in the house, 3 to 4 times a day. I have rewarded her whenever she goes outside. Really discouraged. I have had 3 other min poodles that were males and don’t remember it ever being this hard. This one is a female. I have done everything by the book. Help.

    1. I have two 17 week old pups and guess what? yours is the same story as mine.

      My experience with previous pups and dogs is just be persistent patient and understanding.

      Persistence and consistency will rule the day.

  8. My Chihuahua is four months old; however, I took her away from a 5 dog family. All bark like crazy. Not used to people. She is quiet, loving, sweet and only heard a low tone bark she heard something. This was day 2.
    She seems to sleep all day. I try to play but she is not interested. She enjoyed the sun and grass today and was playful when she woke up only, because she hides under my bed and plays until I get her out from under the bed. Chased a ball for a few minutes ! My concern is her laziness. Is she lonely. Seems like when I took her to see her mother in day two. She ran around with the barking dogs yet she didn’t act up like them.
    Could she be depressed. In day three…

    1. Congratulations on your new puppy! Adjusting to a new home is a lot for a new puppy. We’ve had several puppies come to us and miss their litter mates and mother. After a little bit of time our puppies have always gotten used to their new home. Good luck with your puppy.

  9. I’m Bill, my puppy Lucy has been allowed to regress to peeing in house because I dislike to carry her outside at 2am. The 4 year & 9 month old Pitt peed outside. I didn’t make the new Beagador, 4 month old 6 days ago, go out with Pitt.. She will be carried out at my discomfort from now forward. I appreciate your advise. Goodnight neighbor.

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