The most dangerous misconception about Great Danes is that they require lots of exercise! While danes are not a lazy breed, you may find that if left to do so, your dane may occupy your couch for the whole day! A resting pup however, will require a bit more attention when you arrive home in order to get all that stored up energy out constructively! In general, danes do not require extensive exercise, rather minimizing exercising during the first 18-14 months is highly recommended so as not to risk injury or affect to the hip and joint development.
Daily walks are highly recommended as they can offer mental stimulation, socialization and fitness for your pup! Becuase the pace that a human typically walks only allows a dane to slowly lumber along (pending they are properly abiding their leash manners), a half hour to hour walk daily will be sure to provide just the right opportunity to work some energy out as well as bond and reinforce manners. There is no magic time line though - so be sure to pay attention to your pup, so as not to overwork him/her.
During the first two years of life, your dane will grow as much as a human does in 18 years, with the majority of that growth taking place in the first 8-14 months! During the first 6 - 8 months, your dane will experience the Rapid Growth Stages, which can be painful and unpredictable. Be conscious not to over work your dane or allow him/her to go up and down stairs, jump on and off furniture or in and out of vehicles. Activity like that can disrupt the joints and lead to injury! One of our favorite resources is the late Linda Arndt - founder of GREAT DANE LADY.COM. She spent her life devoted to properly diagnosing, caring for, treating, preventing and understanding bone growth disorders in many breeds, but especially in Great Danes. Please take some time to visit her website, read the articles on HOD, PANO, and other growth disorders, the causes and preventions!
While we concentrate on exercise and your dane, it is important to really understand that your dane is constantly growing for the first 2 to 2.5 years! The growth that is taking place causes the ligaments and bones to separate and makes your dane very susceptible to inflammation and swelling. There may be days where s/he seemss a little slower and mellow - that is a big indicator that s/he is sore ad needs a little more rest. You can definitely still enjoy some playful time with your new pup as well as take him/her on short walks to help work out all that puppy energy, however be mindful to manage the play time and don't walk him/her to exhaustion! An exhausted dane is not only vulnerable to injury, but will also be VERY heavy to try to carry home!
It is also a good idea to limit the areas of the hosue that can be accessed by your curious pup! Closing doors and gating off rooms help to regulate the mischief as well as the opportunity to climb on to and fall off of things! ABSOLUTELY NO STAIRS FOR THE FIRST SIX ( 6 ) TO EIGHT ( 8 ) MONTHS!!!! Minus the two or three you may have on the porch or exit/entry point of the home, your dane should NOT be going up or down stairs AT ALL until well after s/he has overcome the rapid growth stages. Once you introduce stairs, it is VERY IMPORTANT to leash your dane and work the stairs slowly until s/he is confident enouch to safely navigate both up and down the stairs without getting stuck (YES! this happens) - and without falling!