You may find that your new pup grows in bursts and this is especially true when they reach 4 months old which translated into human terms is around 6 years old but this rather depends on their breed. Just as with children, puppies at this stage in their young lives are very playful, they're inquisitive and it's when they can start to show a bit of a wilful character too! Over the next two months there are certain changes you can expect to see in your puppy which includes both in their physical and mental development.
By the time your puppy is 5 months old, they should have got the hang of the "house training" part of their training and they should be able to wait that bit longer between potty breaks - a welcomed relief to you and your pet! On average a five month old puppy will need to go out between four to six times a day and this should decrease as time goes by.
It's at this stage of your puppy's life that they will start to mature sexually and by the time they are 5 months old a male pup will already be producing sperm. At 6 months old a female pup would be able to have her first litter which is something you have to avoid at all costs. It is far better to neuter and spay your pup as a way of reducing the chances of them developing cancer – unless you intend on breeding from them which is something you need to think through very carefully.
Having your puppy either neutered of spayed also reduces the chances of them going "walk-abouts" when they are older and where females are concerned, it is far better to have her spayed before she has her first heat.
Your puppy will also start to lose their baby teeth which fall out to make way for their permanent adult teeth. The chances are you may find these little teeth embedded in a favourite chewy toy or lying on the floor somewhere. Just as with infants, your puppy will go through an uncomfortable time as they lose the baby teeth and the new ones push their way through their gums. You might find they start chewing on things they should not which is why you have to make sure your pup has lots of interesting toys to chew on!
It's a good idea to take them along for a check up with the vet to make sure all their baby teeth have fallen out and that no baby teeth have been "retained". If any deciduous teeth have not fallen out it could be a problem. If this is the case, your vet will be able to remove the offending teeth to avoid an infection setting in and to make room for the permanent teeth to grow normally in their place.
Between 4 and 6 months old is when puppies start to show their independence and will test the "rules". You may notice they are a little less eager to please you much like a teenager will test you to see what they can get away with. You have to remember that puppy will be coping with lots of hormones playing a part in the way they behave which contributes to their rebellious behaviour. This could lead to a few "accidents" happening around the home so it's a time when you have to show them lots of patience, you also need to be consistent in your reinforcement training routine to get through this stage.
A well balanced nutritious diet is essential at this stage of their lives because your puppy's bones are growing and developing. On top of this, they are expending loads of energy during play time which means they will be burning up lots of valuable calories that need to be replaced so their normal development is supported and maintained. If you are unsure about diet, the best person to talk to is your vet who would be able to advise you on the type of food you should be feeding your pup and how often they should be fed.
You should start thinking about neutering or spaying your puppy at this stage of their development. If you make an appointment with your vet, they would be able to advise you and at the same time make sure their vaccinations are up to date and on schedule.
You should have set up a grooming routine to get your puppy used to being prodded and poked so that when they do have to go to the vet, they are used to this type of handling. Grooming your puppy from an early age helps you form a strong bond with them whilst at the same time allowing you to check them over for any injuries, lumps or bumps which could be a cause for concern. You should focus on their paws and in particular their claws as well as their ears and eyes which are the areas that may need to be treated as they get older and which can often be "problem areas" if not handled early enough.
You should also start bathing your pup and cleaning their teeth with a specifically formulated toothpaste for use on dogs. The earlier you start this the better because it reduces the chances of an oral infection taking hold if their teeth are kept clean and plaque free. Never use human toothpaste on your puppy's teeth as this is extremely toxic to them and could well prove deadly.
Training a puppy can be great fun albeit a little challenging at times. This is especially true when they go through their rebellious stage which is between the ages of 4 to 6 months! However, you have to be patient with your pet and show them lots of consistency by using positive reinforcement training techniques. You need to focus on the basic commands in between all the playing, rebellion and wilful behaviour your puppy may well demonstrate at this stage of their lives which is completely normal – it's just a stage most puppies go through! It's well worth the effort because your puppy will thank you for all the kindness and patience you show them by turning into well balanced and well behaved happy, loyal and fun companion to share your life and home with.