Huge, elegant, sometimes goofy, always eager to please, the Great Dane is a companion dog that's easy to love. But a Dane can also be a challenge to raise, requiring proper care, nutrition, training and maybe even some lifestyle adjustments on your part. Know what to expect and be prepared.
Provide Health Care
Find a veterinarian who has experience in diagnosing and treating the heart, joint, bone and gastronomical disorders Danes are particularly susceptible to developing. See if the vet will share her cell phone number or e-mail address with you. You may need advice or have specific health questions later.
Schedule regular checkups with your chosen veterinarian so she can monitor your Dane's health and minimize the risk of the disorders he's prone to getting. Keep an eye on his weight and share any concerns or warning signs with the vet at this time.
Find and memorize the fastest route to a 24-hour pet hospital in case there's a medical emergency. Conditions like bloat, an often fatal digestive disorder that's common in Danes, require quick medical treatment, so be sure to have a plan in place.
Feed With Care
Give your young Dane appropriate food. The protein and fat content in most brands of puppy food are too high for your growing Dane. A portion-controlled premium adult dog food or a raw diet directed by a veterinarian will help your dog achieve slow, steady growth and development.
Make your Great Dane rest around meals. Relaxed downtime, before and after eating, is especially necessary for the sensitive digestive system typical in a Great Dane. This could be a good time to groom and bond with your dog.
Consider serving your pup's food and water in raised dishes. Many Dane owners use elevated water and food feeders for more comfortable access and to help reduce the risk of digestive complications. These dishes are available online and in stores. Ask your veterinarian about the latest studies pertaining to this practice.
Keep Your Dane Comfortable and Happy
Supply your Great Dane with large chew toys to keep him busy -- especially during his first year. Consult your trusted veterinarian for Dane-safe toys or bones. Be sure to Dane-proof or stash away any cherished furniture, children's toys and other favorite objects.
Furnish your dog with a large, firm bed of his own. Such padded support is necessary to maintain his giant frame and protect his sensitive joints. Great Danes thrive on close companionship, so locate his bed near your own to give him comfort and peace of mind.
Protect your Dane from slips and falls by placing carpeting or non-skid throw rugs throughout the house. A Great Dane's massive frame is prone to joint and bone injuries. Heavy mats at all the doors will help prevent slips and falls during his fast and furious dashes in and out of your home.
Train Your Dane
Teach your Great Dane to obey basic obedience commands. Because of his great size and strength, a Dane can be a handful if he's not properly trained. But remember that he can also be very sensitive. He'll respond best to happy, consistent, positive-reinforcement training methods that utilize treats and plenty of verbal praise.
Socialize your young Dane. Teach him to walk on a leash and take him for walks on a regular basis. A nice walk around the block to greet the neighborhood kids, meet new dog friends, hear the street sounds and smell the scents of the area will help him get comfortable with people, other animals and his outdoor environment. Keep in mind, however, that while he needs enough exercise to stay healthy, it should not be so much that his growing bones, joints and ligaments are stressed. Keep the walks short.
Train your Dane to feel comfortable in moving vehicles. Take him for car rides as much as possible and include his favorite blanket and a toy or two to ease the stress of the ride. A larger car, a van or a truck purchase may be in order.
- Your Dane depends on you. He needs the company, attention and guidance that only you can provide. Spend as much time with him as possible. Make him a part of your family.
- Stay informed about the latest studies concerning Great Dane nutrition, supplements and medications by reading breed magazines, journals and books and speaking with your veterinarian on a regular basis.