Training & Exercise

A well mannered and trained Great Dane will be the best family addition on four legs you could ever ask for - no doubt about it!  Danes are loyal, loving, amiable and truly desire to please!  S/He will provide your family with more than just a pet, but a genuine companion their whole life through!

Great Danes are typically quick learners and desire to be around their human companions almost all the time -- even if it's just to lie at your feet while you work, or snooze on the floor by the couch on a lazy movie afternoon!  This breed thrives on your love and affection, so make sure to put a lot of time and care into training so that you are able to appreicate all of his/her love as well.!

There are several different methods for command training and potty training, however the keys to success with Great Danes are simple: consistency and firm leadership.  Danes may be giant, but they are very sensitive (hence the term "gentle giant").  Harsh tones, yelling and physical force will only net you a scared, uncomfortable, defensive dane who is likely as unpredictable as your scolding.

Below, I will outline some of our best recommendations for Command Training, Leash Training, Potty Training and Exercise.  As with all recommendations, these are based on our experience and may need to vary for your particular dane!  Please feel free to call us with any questions!

COMMAND TRAINING

Find an In-Home Trainer to work with as early as 10 weeks of age!  Typically you can find someone who will spend two or three days a week, half hour to an hour each time working with your dane and your whole family.  It is by far the best way to build a relationship of trust with your dane as well as help him/her to understand exactly where you s/he falls in the family hierarchy!

Large group classes are helpful for socialization, which is very important, however the distractions you have to overcome to accomplish the basic commands tend to not only hinder the learning, but also the bonding.  Additionally those classes will require all vaccines be completed before enrolling and typically do not allow children to participate.

It is far more productive, economical and all around sensical to spend a couple months with private lessons, bonding and establishing trust and then venturing out into dane meet ups or group classes to work through socialization.  You will find that you accomplish more in less time and are more in tune with your pups behavior as well as better equipped to manage him/her in those socialization settings. 

Additionally, private lessons will allow you to incorporate children into the sessions which is imperative to a functioning family which includes four legged members!  Your children MUST know how to behave with your dane as much as your dane must know how to behave with your children.  As gentle as your giant may be, s/he still may be able to inadvertantly land a hurt - they often outsize children into their early teens, so be conscious of the behavior that is allowed between all membes of the family.

LEASH TRAINING

Do not assume that just because your dane sits or comes on command that s/he will know what to do when on a leash.  We STRONGLY recommend using the GENTLE LEADER HARNESS - the body harness, rather than a collar.  Your Treowe puppy will come home with his/her first body harness, so make sure to use it during your training sessions, as long as it will fit.  Once s/he is comfortable, the harness will support and reinforce the behavior you expect from your pup when you go for a walk!  It is comfortable and provides natural resistance rather than harsh corrections.  Additionally, it is safer as it does not apply too much pressure to the throat or around the neck. 

The goal is a common one between you and your dane - to enjoy a stroll together!  The best way to accomplish this is to gather the proper tools and of course patience and settle in for lots of practice.  And by starting out early, you can avoid the tension and frustration of feeling like you just went through a work out rather than a walk.  It is much easier to set expectations with a 30lb pup than try to break bad habits of a 100lb pup. 

**One trick that seems to work really well with us: when we are working with a new pup on a lead and harness, we allow the pup to potty before we get all geared up and have a couple minutes to get the excitement out before it's time to "work."  Once we have commenced our walk, should puppy act out or pull in anyway, simply stop walking and wait for him/her to return to the proper position and stop their behavior.  As soon as the proper behavior is exhibited, continue walking!  This may get a bit annoying as you could spend 20 minutes and only go two blocks - however you will be exerting minimal efforts, but netting maximum results!  Mentally prepare yourself ahead of time and it's a simple way to achieve a well mannered walking partner for life!

POTTY TRAINING

All pups are different and each one will achieve success depending upon how accountable s/he is held to the task at hand.  By following a few "Keys" the goal should be reached without a ton of frustration!

*Pick a spot in the yard and ALWAYS take your pup to it, wait there for him/her to potty and then LOTS of praise - NO TREATS!

*DO NOT confuse the outdoor time!  Potty comes first ALWAYS when you go outside.  Clearly differentiate between the two by always taking pup to "the spot" to potty EVERY time you go outside.  Play time can follow the praise, but NEVER before pottying.

*BE CONSISTEN - hourly if necessary!

*Predict the behavior!  Watch for the puppy circle, tail flagging in the air, nose on the ground.  THEY ALWAYS GIVE CLUES!!

*A quiet puppy {usually} means a pooping puppy! (If not, a peeing, chewing, etc... puppy)

*Keep the X-Pen at the smallest comfortable size for your Dane until potty training is mastered.  Danes are an inherently clean breed and do not prefer to potty where they sleep!  If you keep the area small enough for him/her to stand up, turn in a circle and lie back down - this will force yourpup to whine to notify you that s/he has to potty!

*Do not get discouraged if it doesn't happen right away.  You will have days and weeks of great success and then an accident!  That is normal, just stick with it and keep being consistent.

*DO NOT be loud or aggressive if you catch a pup in the act!  Simply scoop him/her up, state a firm "NO" and take the pup outside to their desigatned place and wait for him/her to repeat the behavior!  Then LOTS of praise!

*DO NOT SCOLD A PUP WHEN YOU FIND A MESS - you are too late!  S/He will have no idea what you are talking about.

*If you're outside for 10 minutes without any results, go back in for 10-15 minutes and then go back outside.  Repeat this until the puppy potty's!  While inside, monitor your pup, DO NOT leave him/her unattended!

GENERAL NOTES

One of the best training practices we have come across is PLACE TRAINING.  The end results of your commitment to this will be a dane who knows where his/her place is and at the sound of the word "Place," will retreat and stay until told otherwise.  The concepts is also very transferable from the potty place in the yeard to the quiet place in the house.  In most caes, the X-Pen may be eliminated once your dane reaches adulthood.  Speak with your trainer about place training - if you are committed to the steps, the resulting bond and trust established will be more than worth the efforts!

Finally, I have mentioned the term "X-Pen" several times in this section!  We DO NOT crate or recommend crate training for danes.  Instead, we recommend using the PRECISION PET X PEN.  It is an open top exercise pen that can be resized to accommodate the growth of your dane.  It can also be reshaped to fit your needs - either a square or circle enclosure or a fence if needed.  They vary in size, however we have purchased both the 3' and 4' models with great success!  In fact, we still have our ORIGINAL X-pen, purchased over 11 years ago!

Crating often creates insecure pups and can be costly with your dane as s/he will grow very quickly!  The X-Pen is an open enclosure so your dan can still be a part of and see what is going on and feel secure in his/her surroundings!  It will also be a onetime purchase that will grow with your dane!

EXERCISE & ACTIVITY LEVEL

     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!