Are Great Danes difficult to train? A helpful guide

Before getting one of these giant dogs, you may be wondering “are Great Danes difficult to train?”. An unruly dog of that size could certainly lead to problems, and no owner or dog wants that to happen.

So, are Great Danes difficult to train? Thanks to their people-pleasing nature, Great Danes are a relatively easy to train breed. Most are not food driven, and can be trained without the use of food treats as incentive. As with all dogs, starting training from an early age will make the process easier.

While Great Danes are generally an easy to train breed, there are certain scenarios which may make training harder or easier.

Factors that can affect training

Let’s dive in and take a look at some of the factors that may make the training of your Great Dane harder or easier.

Training factor #1 – Age

The first and probably most important factor that impacts how easy or difficult it is to train a Great Dane is their age. Generally speaking, the earlier that you can start training a Great Dane the better.

Not only does starting from an early age provide them a chance for more practice, but it also helps prevent the formation of bad habits. It’s much easier to train them “from scratch” than to try and override learned habits that they have been ingrained in them over months or years.

Luckily it won’t take them 10,000 hours to master a skill! But there’s certainly something to be said for accumulated training time. Instead of trying to cram training time into a shorter window, you can create an ultra-consistent routine. Spending just a few minutes practicing every single day will pay massive dividends down the road and make the process more enjoyable for everyone.

Starting at an early age has another very Dane-specific advantage in that they are smaller! It’s much easier to correct and help position a Great Dane while they are “small” puppies than full-grown adults. While it’s certainly not impossible to teach an old dog a new trick, it’s definitely much harder to guide an unruly 100+ pound Great Dane than a 40 pound one 😉

Training factor #2 – Personality

Just like humans, every Great Dane has their own personality and quirks. Some are mellow and compliant, while others can be stubborn to the bone! While the latter can be frustrating during training, it’s valuable to understand your dog’s personality to speed up progress.

For Great Danes that are the mellow people-pleasing type, you’ve got it easy! Use their desire to please as a tool for training. When they respond correctly during training, reward them lavishly with love and attention and you’ll find that they catch on very quickly! 🙂

For more stubborn dogs, you may need to alter your approach. Stubbornness and independence both can result in a dog that is more difficult to train because they want to do their thing instead of listen to commands.

Rather than trying to match your dog’s stubborn behavior with your own, you’ll need to find other ways to get them motivated. Maybe it’s their favorite toy, a treat, or some other measure to get them excited about training.

The real takeaway here is that not every approach works for every Great Dane. So find what

Training factor #3 – You! (the trainer)

Let’s face it – we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. Some of us are good at math, some easily learn new languages, while others are incredible musicians. And unfortunately – not all of us are naturally good at training our dogs!

However, the good news is that this is a skill that can be learned!

Don’t think of this as a personal shortcoming, just realize that it’s not something that comes natural to everyone. If you grew up with dogs or have even helped train others in the past, that background knowledge will be a big advantage over a true newcomer.

The biggest thing that most new trainers fail to understand is that dogs need absolute clarity and simplicity in training. Dogs are not good at decoding complex commands, mixing commands together, or interpreting middle-ground scenarios.

The key to being a good trainer is focusing on simplicity. Train one simple command repeatedly until mastery has been demonstrated across multiple sessions. Only then should you start to introduce new commands. Focus on the mastery of the critical basic training commands before starting to put them together.

If this all sounds completely new to you, then I’d highly recommend taking a look at our article on the 3 most important Great Dane training commands. It covers the background on why these are the most important commands to learn as well as how to teach them to your Great Dane.

Are Great Danes easy to potty train?

Compared to small breeds, Great Danes are comparatively much easier to potty train. Their larger bladders certainly give them more room to hold in those fluids a bit longer! 😉

In addition to creating a space for them in your house, the best tool for potty training your Great Dane will be the use of a crate. Crates take advantage of the dog’s natural instinct to replicate a den that they feel safe inside of.

Using this natural instinct, a crate makes for an excellent tool for potty training a Great Dane. Because your Great Dane will not want to make a mess of their den, the crate teaches them to “hold it” until they are let out.

It’s your job to ensure that when they are let out of the crate that you take them directly to an appropriate place to relieve themselves. Make sure to repeat this process every single time that they are let out of the crate to build a habit and schedule for relieving themselves.

Don’t forget to reward your Great Dane when they go potty in the correct place! Usually this is done with attention or treats, but they key is to make it a happy experience for them. This way, they build a positive association with relieving themselves in the right place instead of accidentally inside the house.

While some look at crates as a cruel way to confine a dog, most Great Danes quite enjoy their crates. Many Great Danes become attached to their crates and will choose to relax inside of them when they feel that they need a break.

If you’d like more information about how to crate train a Great Dane, make sure to take a look at our dedicated article on crates here. It also covers the #1 crate that we recommend for Great Danes due to its durability and large size.

Tools to help train your Great Dane

Leashes

Just like tackling any job, the right tools can make all the difference! The first piece of “equipment” that I recommend to every owner is a good leash.

Funny enough – modern retractable leashes are more expensive, but less effective than a standard six foot non-retractable leash. Save yourself the time and money by purchasing a nylon, leather, or fixed length leash that doesn’t stretch. This style of leash provides you with more control, and allows your dog to better understand appropriate distances. The lack of constant tension can also help to prevent them from developing (or worsening) pulling habits.

For practicing recall and other commands at a distance, I also highly recommend getting a long line non-retractable leash as well. Leash Boss makes excellent ones that range anywhere from 20-50 feet. You can find the Leash Boss leash here on Amazon.com.

Don’t worry, this is not the type of leash that you’d use on walks or other outings, it’s just for training purposes.

For a more in-depth guide, make sure to take a look at our full article on leash training for a Great Dane here.

Collars

While there are a wide variety of special training collars on the market, there are only two types that I recommend for Great Danes. For it’s incredible effectiveness and long range, my most highly recommended one is an e-collar. They allow you to get an immediate response from the dog, without the risk of injuring their neck from leash pulling.

The #1 model e-collar that we recommend is the Garmin XC Delta. Ours has lasted several years and still has amazing battery life. It has never malfunctioned, or given us even a hint of trouble over the years. You can find it here on Amazon.com.

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