Are Great Danes Easy to Train?

Great Danes are a very well known breed for their size. That has left me thinking about how hard it would be to train a dog that gigantic. I did some further research about training Great Danes and this is what I found.

Are Great Danes easy to train? Great Danes are moderately easy to train. They aren’t the most intelligent dog breed and are considered average in their ability to learn a command. They are also stubborn at times. They can learn faster if training starts when they are a puppy. They need more time and reinforcement while training.

While Great Danes can be a little more difficult to train compared to other dog breeds, this doesn’t make them a bad pet or dog by any means. If you are interested in learning about the history of the Great Dane, training tips, and more keep reading below.

The History of the Great Dane

Great Danes are a very old dog breed. They can be traced back as far as more than 400 years ago. They were originally bred in Germany, and are thought to be a cross between mastiff-like dogs, Greyhounds, and Irish Wolfhounds.

Great Danes were originally bred by German Nobility and rulers to protect their property and estates and worked as guard dogs. They were also used for game, and their large size allowed for them to hunt wild boars.

They were trained to catch the boar and hold it until their owner came over and killed it. They were a dog that was owned by the highest class of people at the time.

This is why they aren’t known as the most intelligent dog. They weren’t bred to be very obedient, intelligent or to follow commands they were bred for their size.

Commands That All Great Danes Should Be Taught

Great Danes grow to be very big and very strong dogs. While they are cute and manageable as a puppy, they will soon grow to a size that is much more difficult to deal with especially if they haven’t been taught any commands. It is very important to start training your Great Dane as soon as possible.

There are some commands that are very important for your Great Dane to learn to make your life much easier, and your dog more manageable when they get to full size. These commands are listed below:

  • Sit (Having them sit down)
  • Lay Down (Having them lay down)
  • Stay (Having them stay where they are)
  • Drop (Having them drop whatever is in their mouth)
  • Come (Having them come to you from wherever they are)

All the commands listed above are very important in keeping your Great Dane under control. While they are known as gentle giants and aren’t known to be aggressive, their size can make them very intimidating especially to people who don’t have experience around dogs or even people that do!

All these commands will help you to have a well behaved and lovable Great Dane, that everyone can enjoy.

Training Tips

Since Great Danes aren’t known for their intelligence it may take a little bit longer for them to pick up a command or trick. It is important that training starts as a puppy as it will be much easier for them to learn the trick, and stick with it. The older they get, the more stubborn and reluctant they will become to learning new things.

When you start training, make sure to only train about 5 to 10 minutes a day. You don’t want to have your dog lose interest in a trick, because if they decide they are done before you do, they aren’t going to want to continue with the trick and being forced to will only have them have negative feelings toward the trick.

Always end the training session on a good note, such as when they make progress or do the trick successfully. Give them lots of praise and love. This will make training a happy and more fun experience for you and the dog, and make it more effective.

When teaching your dog these commands, they will need a reward so they know what they are doing is correct, and so they will want to keep doing it. While verbal praise is an appropriate reward for later in the training process it is not enough to start with.

A good reward to give your dog is training treats. These are smaller treats, that give your dog a reward without making them full or sick by giving them too many, allowing you to train longer and keep your dogs interest.

These can be bought at any local pet store, you can also use baby carrots as a substitute which are a healthier alternative.

How to Teach Your Great Dane to Sit and Lay Down

These two commands are the first two commands you should teach your Great Dane. Not only are they the simplest, but will act as a foundation for many other commands to come.

First, let’s start with teaching your Great Dane to sit. All you need for this command is training treats.

  1. Get your Great Dane’s attention. You can do this by calling their name, and showing them that you have a treat. You can even let them smell the treat, but don’t let them have it yet.
  2. Once their attention is on the treat, slowly raise it above their head so that they are looking straight up while saying “sit” or whatever command word you chose. Naturally, this should cause them to sit down to keep looking at the treat.
  3. If they back up instead of sitting down, gently push down on their back, while keeping the treat above their head until they sit down.
  4. Once they sit down, give them the treat, and a lot of verbal praise.
  5. Repeat this several times a day, slowly taking away cues such as putting pressure on their back, raising the treat above their head, or even the treat altogether, until they can do it just by hearing the command word.

After your Great Dane has learned the sit command, it will be simple to teach them the lay down command, as it builds off of “sit”.

  1. Start off by telling your dog to sit. Once they do this, get their attention by showing them you have a treat, but make sure they remain sitting.
  2. Put the treat in between their front paws and tell them to lay down or whatever command word you have chosen.
  3. Naturally, they will slide down to get the treat. Once they do this reward them.
  4. If instead of sliding down they stand back up, direct them to sit again, and put the treat in between their paws. You can reward even if they start to slide down so they understand what they are supposed to do.
  5. Repeat this several times a day until they are able to do it by just hearing the command word.

How to Teach your Great Dane to Stay and Drop

Now that your dog knows the foundation commands, the others will be more simple to teach. These next two commands, stay and drop, build off the sit command.

These are important commands because they keep your Great Dane from getting in trouble, like if they are trying to run after something, or if they grab something they are not supposed to have.

First, teaching your dog to stay.

  1. The first thing you want to do is tell your dog to sit, once they do this tell them to stay using the command word you have chosen, and slowly take two steps back while holding your palm out toward the dog. If they stay, give them a treat, if they try to follow you tell them to sit, and try again until they stay.
  2. Once they learn to stay after taking two steps back, increase the distance you back up by a couple steps, and repeat the process.
  3. Keep repeating this process until they can sit and stay no matter how far you go away.

This training process may take a little longer for your Great Dane to understand, especially since it is not natural for a dog to sit still when it wants to run around. It may take a few tries and that’s okay. Train with patience and persistence.

Next is teaching your Great Dane to drop whatever is in their mouth. This is very important to teach your Great Dane, because of how massive and strong they are. If they get something that they are not supposed to or is dangerous to them, it will be very difficult to get it back if they don’t know this command.

For this command, you will need a hard and edible chew treat such as rawhide bones, or a chew toy, and regular training treats.

  1. Give your dog one side of the chew toy, and hold onto the other side (don’t let go).
  2. Once your dog grabs onto one side of the chew toy, tell them to drop and show them the (tastier) treat.
  3. When they let go of the chew toy, give them the treat and verbal praise.
  4. After doing it a couple of times with the treat, just pretend to show them a treat and tell them to drop. Once they drop, give them a lot of verbal praise.
  5. Practice this a couple of times, and then practice without holding onto the other side of the chew toy, bringing the treats back in if necessary.

If your Great Dane has gotten something dangerous, and for some reason won’t drop it, in an emergency you can grab it out. You do this by reaching your thumb and middle finger into it’s mouth right behind their canines and squeezing. This will cause them to open their mouth and you can grab out whatever they have.

How to Teach Your Great Dane to Come

Another very important command for your Great Dane to learn is to come when called. This command is very helpful for getting your Great Dane’s attention, especially when you want them to drop something, or leave something alone.

For this command you will need treats and a leash.

  1. Put the leash on your Great Dane, and go somewhere where you have plenty of space to spread out.
  2. Get a leash’s distance away from your Great Dane, tell them to come or call their name, and gently tug on the leash. Once they come over to you give them a treat and a lot of verbal praise.
  3. Do this until you no longer have to tug on the leash, or give them a treat.
  4. Bring them into a safe and enclosed area, and take them off the leash. Practice having them come to you off the leash. Reintroduce the treats if you have to.
  5. Practice this until they can do it without any leash or treats.

This one may also take a while, so be patient and keep practicing. It’s alright if your dog doesn’t get it right away.

How to House-Train Your Great Dane

This isn’t a command, but it is an important skill that you want to teach your Great Dane immediately, and when they are a puppy. The older they get, the harder it will be for them to learn a routine. Great Danes eat a lot which means they also go to the bathroom a lot, and it would be ideal if it wasn’t in the house.

The first thing you want to do is set up a feeding routine, because if you know when they eat, you can know when they are going to go to the bathroom.

Great Danes need to be feed about three times a day. They can be feed in the morning, afternoon, and night time. About ten minutes after they finish a meal, take them outside and wait with them until they go. Give them verbal praise and then let them come back inside.

If you do this every time after they eat it will build a habit, and after a couple of days they will automatically associate eating with going outside.

You also need to learn to watch for signs that your dog is going to go to the bathroom. These signs include:

  • Circling the room
  • Pacing back and forth
  • Sniffing around the room

If you notice these signs take your dog outside immediately before they start to go. They will begin to associate having to go to the bathroom with going outside.

The biggest trick in doing this is making sure you are consistent and on top of doing this process. If you only commit to making sure they go outside sometimes, then it will be harder for the Great Dane to make those associations which are crucial for being house trained.

Great Danes should not be crate trained. It is not natural for them, and will be much more uncomfortable and hard for them because of how large they are. It is much better for them if they are just trained to go outside, especially for when they grow full sized.

More Tricks to Teach your Great Dane

Training is not only for teaching your Great Dane necessary commands, but it can also be used for fun. Training is a good way to spend time and bond with your dog. You can also train your Great Dane to do some cool tricks you can show off to your friends.

Some fun tricks that are easy to teach your Great Dane is how to spin, how to shake hands, play dead, and roll over. All these are realativley simple to do, and fun to teach.

In this article you can find how to teach your dog to spin, or as some say, “dance” which is an easy and fun trick for your Great Dane to learn.

  1. Show your dog that you have a treat, and make sure their attention is on it.
  2. Slowly move the treat in a circle around their body, while saying spin, or your chosen command word. (A popular command for this trick is “dance”)
  3. Your dog should naturally spin in a circle to keep their gaze on the treat in your hand.
  4. Once they spin to give them the treat and a lot of verbal praise.
  5. Once they can do that, don’t show them the treat until after they spin.

Because this trick is not a command that needs to be done and doesn’t really have a purpose, it is not bad to give them a treat after each time they do it. These tricks are easily forgotten because they are not necessary or performed constantly, so giving your Great Dane a treat after each time they do it isn’t a bad thing.

At very least they should receive a lot of verbal praise for doing it, so they will want to keep doing it.

Related Questions:

How long do Great Danes live? Great Danes are a breed of dog that doesn’t live as long as most other dogs because of the numerous health problems they have. Their average life span is about 6 to 8 years, but can sometimes live as long as 10 years.

How long do Great Danes keep growing? Great Danes keep growing height wise until they reach about a year and a half (18 months), but their body can continue to grow until they are about 3 or 4 years old. By the time they are done growing the Females will be about 28 to 32 inches tall and 99 to 130 pounds heavy, Males will be about 30 to 34 inches tall and 120 to 200 pounds heavy.

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