Great Danes grow very quickly. Because of this, expect to buy two to three different training harnesses or collars before your Dane is full grown. Below is a review of the top training gear for walking a Great Dane, along with pointers for getting started.
Flat Collar and Leash
Ultimately, leash training teaches your Great Dane to walk politely on a flat collar. This can be a buckle-style collar or a quick-release cotton or nylon style. In the beginning, provide plenty of treats and praise when she stays by your side. Pay her for her good behavior!
Some Great Danes learn early that they are strong enough to pull their owners. This is not an attempt at control. These pups are simply trying to navigate their environment at their pace, not yours. If a Great Dane is allowed to pull on a flat collar, neck and throat injury could occur. For this reason, some equipment such as head collars and harnesses are designed to help reduce this behavior.
A front-clip harness is designed to reduce pulling. The leash attaches to a D-ring at the front of the chest. When the puppy attempts to pull, momentum turns her body back toward you. This provides an opportunity to reset proper walking position so you can create a chance to reward good behavior.
Popular front-clip harnesses include Premier's Easy Walk, Soft Touch Concept's Sensation or Sensible harnesses, and the Walk Your Dog with Love harness.
Head Collars and Two-Point Harnesses
If your Great Dane puppy is particularly strong, you may need a little more help. In this case, consider either a head collar or a two-point harness.
Head collars look much like horse halters, with a leash attachment right below the puppy's muzzle. Head collars are self-correcting, turning your puppy's head to you if she tries to pull on leash. Popular brands include Premier's Gentle Leader, Halti and Comfort Trainer.
A word of caution. Especially since Great Danes are such large dogs, do not give excess leash on a head collar or your puppy could hurt herself. These tools are designed for keeping your Dane close.
Two-point harnesses are very similar to front-clips, with a second leash attachment by your Dane's shoulders. By using a double clip leash, you can have even more control. This system is currently unique to the Freedom Harness.
Two-point harnesses can often be the most efficient in helping you handle your Great Dane, especially as he gets to his adult size. These harnesses tend to be the easiest to fit to deep chests, and can be used on a single clip once the Dane is trained to walk nicely.
Tips on Training
Remember that dogs do what works to fulfill their needs and wants. Use this knowledge to teach your Great Dane puppy to behave appropriately by using what she wants as a reward for good behavior. For example, if you have a puppy who pulls to smell on walks, reward her for walking nicely on leash by releasing her to "go sniff."
It is also ideal to enroll your Great Dane puppy in a training class right away. Visit The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers or The Association of Pet Dog Trainers for searchable listings of qualified trainers.
Shelly Volsche has worked as a professional dog behavior consultant, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and a diploma in canine nutrition. She has written for "The Chronicle of the Dog" and Lucky Dog Magazine and is currently pursuing her PhD in anthropology with a focus on pet parents.