In Week 4 the puppy is starting to develop his play behaviour, and also, if given the chance, his problems-solving behaviour. It is also a good time for him to begin to learn how to deal with the inevitable frustrations in life.
In this week, the puppy needs some challenges – things to carry, pull, climb on, move around, tug with his littermates etc. This helps develop strength, coordination, agility – and sharing. Puppies deprived of this can grow up to be poor learners – or certainly slower than they would be otherwise. They also can grow up unable to deal with frustration – which can result in serious behaviour or temperament problems.
It is easy to get concerned if the mother now seems a bit rough at times – maybe walking off when they are trying to suckle, or growls at them or even stands on them but it is important that you are not over-protective, as this is also teaching the puppies how to cope with frustration and learn to overcome it.
This is also the week to start to spend more time with each puppy individually – slowly increasing the time they spend away from their littermates and their mother. This will help to prevent separation problems, will develop independence and will encourage bonding with humans.
Once again, some breeds or types may not have reached this stage yet, but it is important to provide these things so they can interact with them and learn from them, when they are ready.