Bringing home a German Shepherd puppy is the start of an amazing journey. At 4 months old, your puppy is right in the middle of rapid development, undergoing physical and behavioral changes that will shape them into the loyal companion this breed is known for.
Raising a 4-month old German Shepherd takes dedication, patience, and plenty of love, but the payoff is an incredibly special bond with your furry friend.
Growth Spurts: The Rapid Changes of a 4-Month Old German Shepherd
Four months marks a time of huge transition for German Shepherd puppies. They experience significant increases in size, altering their appearance seemingly overnight. Their puppy coat begins shedding as their adult fur grows in. Mentally, their curiosity balloons as they become more alert and eager to explore their surroundings.
At this age, German Shepherds weigh approximately 30-40 pounds, with males generally heavier than females. They stand about 1 foot tall at the shoulders, having nearly doubled in height since 8 weeks old. Their gangly legs might seem too big for their body at times, creating some awkward, clumsy moments. But this leggy stage doesn’t last too long before their proportions even out.
Ears are another highly visible change. As cartilage strengthens, German Shepherd ears gradually stand up, a process called pricking. Each ear moves at its own pace, leading to many adorable lopsided stages. By 4 months old, those iconic ears often stand completely erect.
Coat changes also accelerate around this age. The fluffy puppy fur transitions to an adult double coat. Guard hairs become more prominent in the topcoat while the soft undercoat continues growing rapidly. Daily brushing removes shedding fur and distributes skin oils for a healthy coat.
With their adult teeth emerging, German Shepherd puppies also experience significant chewing urges. Having a variety of appropriate chew toys on hand reduces destructive chewing on unacceptable items. Freeze peanut butter or low-sodium broth in a Kong for a delicious, cooling teething aid.
Boundless Energy and Curiosity
Four-month old German Shepherds exemplify puppy exuberance. Brimming with energy and curiosity, they enthusiastically explore everything within reach. Providing plenty of playtime and age-appropriate activities channels all that vigor in positive ways.
Multiple short walks per day aid development and socialization. Puppies this age can typically handle up to 1 mile per walk. Mix up the route to introduce new sights and sounds. Allow time for plenty of sniffing and praise calm behavior around distractions like bikes or joggers. Bring tasty treats on outings for reinforcing obedience.
Interactive toys are invaluable for burning mental and physical energy. Food puzzles like the Kong Wobbler reward pups for moving the toy to dispense kibble. Retrieving tennis balls or flying discs taps into their natural herding heritage. Hide-and-seek with treats builds problem-solving skills. Switch up the toys available to prevent boredom.
Enroll in a positive reinforcement puppy kindergarten class. Pups socialize with new people and dogs in a structured environment while learning basic obedience skills. Practice training every day in short 5-15 minute sessions to start developing good manners and engagement with their owner. Keep training upbeat with rewards for success.
Leash skills require significant work at this age. German Shepherd exuberance combined with size and strength makes pulling extra challenging. Consistent training curbs this, however. Reward for slack leash, change direction or stop moving for pulling. Head halters provide added control while training.
Even in play, biting and roughhousing must be curtailed. Always have appropriate chew toys available to redirect play-biting onto acceptable objects. Any biting during play should prompt a loud “ouch!” to indicate it hurts, followed by immediately ending play and ignoring the pup. With consistency, German Shepherds learn quickly that mouthing humans brings an end to fun.
Sleep Requirements for Growing Puppies
Rest and sleep are just as crucial as exercise at this age. Four-month old German Shepherds need around 18 hours of sleep per day. Their growing bodies require tremendous energy, and sleep provides recovery. Making sure pups get adequate rest prevents crankiness and over-tired behavior issues like hyperactivity or defiance.
Set up a cozy sleeping area, like a crate or pen, in a quiet area of the home. Introduce this spot early on so it becomes a secure retreat. Place favorite toys and chews inside to occupy pup when awake. Covering the pen partially can help reduce distractions. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule with naptimes prevents overtiredness.
Observe changes in sleep patterns, which could indicate sickness. Excessive lethargy or difficulty settling down warrants a veterinary visit. Healthy German Shepherd puppies sleep deeply and wake refreshed for playtime or training. Nighttime housebreaking improves dramatically with proper daytime resting.
Providing balanced nutrition supports healthy development. At 4 months old, most German Shepherd puppies transition to three scheduled feedings per day. Meals should consist of high-quality commercial puppy food formulated specifically for large breeds. Wet food mixed into dry kibble adds palatability and hydration.
Divide daily portions into three meals fed at the same times daily to establish a routine. Make sure water is always available. At five months old, reduce to two meals per day. Avoid overfeeding treats or table scraps which can quickly unbalance their diet.
Keeping puppies slim puts less stress on growing joints and bones. The ribs should be easily felt but not visible on a 4-month old German Shepherd. Consult your veterinarian if concerned about weight, growth rate, or other nutritional issues. They can recommend adjustments or specialty foods as needed.
Veterinary Care for Your Growing Pup
Frequent veterinary checkups ensure your German Shepherd puppy stays happy and healthy. Vaccinations and deworming should be kept current based on your vet’s recommendations. Spaying or neutering can occur around 6 months old.
Schedule an appointment right away if anything seems amiss with your puppy. Lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, or changes in appetite could indicate illness or parasites. Limping or reluctance to play may signal joint pain or injury requiring prompt attention. Veterinarians also track growth metrics for any deviations from normal.
Preventive care is critical too. Begin heartworm, flea and tick control products per your vet’s advice. Brush teeth and trim nails regularly to establish good habits. Examine ears and skin weekly while grooming. Keeping up with these basic tasks makes veterinary visits less stressful.
Training Your 4-Month Old German Shepherd
The old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” does not apply to German Shepherds. In fact, starting training early in puppyhood yields the best results. Four months old marks an ideal developmental stage for certain foundational skills.
House training progresses rapidly at this age. Take pups outside frequently, praising and treating for pottying in the right spot. Limit access when unsupervised and confine overnight until consistently accident-free. Crate training utilizes their natural inclination to stay clean.
Enroll in structured obedience classes for exposure to new people, dogs, and distractions. Having acquired their puppy shots protects them while socializing. Practice short training sessions at home every day as well, focusing on skills like come, sit, down, stay, and polite leash walking.
Gentle correction paired with positive reinforcement works best for training German Shepherds. Reward wanted behaviors like housetraining progress or obedience commands. Manage unwanted habits by redirecting to an alternate activity and avoiding reinforcement of bad behaviors. Set the puppy up for success by making the right choice clear.
German Shepherds excel at canine roles like service work and police K9s thanks to their intelligence and eagerness to partner with “their” person. Nurture this special bond through fair, consistent leadership and mutually enjoyable training. A well-trained German Shepherd becomes an incredibly responsive companion.
The Joys and Challenges of Puppy Raising
Raising a German Shepherd puppy has its fair share of trials but yields a lifetime of rewards. Patience and commitment smooth over the frustrating times to uncover the remarkable dog inside. Their unmatched versatility stems from proper early socialization and training.
Challenge yourself to capture the good moments and celebrate small wins like learning a new trick or having an accident-free day. The months fly by all too quickly. Appreciate their puppyhood while guiding them to become the well-trained dog they’re meant to be.
Stay consistent, ask for help when needed, and build in plenty of playtime. Few things compare to the excitement and pride of successfully tackling puppyhood with your German Shepherd. The ultimate payoff is witnessing that pup transform into your loyal, loving companion for years to come. It’s a relationship like no other.