Why Great Dane Crate Training is Important
Although crate training remains a controversial topic, there is research to support the positive impact that it will have on your Great Dane’s life. From an evolutionary standpoint, the desire to seek out enclosed spaces for safety is rooted in their genetics. Centuries ago before dogs were domesticated by humans, their ancestors lived in dens. These dens provided a safe place to sleep, rest, and raise their young. As humans, we are no different. We choose to live in homes for physical protection, as well as the psychological satisfaction that they provide.
Creating a space inside your home for your Dane to call their own satisfies this evolutionary desire. In the absence of providing a place for them, you will inevitably find them curled up under a table or other enclosed space in an attempt to replicate a den. One key aspect that is often misunderstood is that crates are not for punishment. Let me repeat that, crates should not be used for punishment. Your Dane should associate their crate as a place of comfort and safety, not where they go to repent for any wrongdoings.
By fostering their natural instinct and positive association to the crate i.e. den, your Dane will live a happier life. Separation anxiety is less likely to be an issue when they feel safe and confident in their crates.
Crates are also a very helpful tool for potty training. Your Great Dane wants to keep their home clean and will hold it until taken to an appropriate place. Providing praise and rewarding them for these successful actions will further reinforce the positive behavior and have them potty trained before you know it!
How to Crate Train Your Great Dane
Great Dane Crate Placement
Placement of the crate is an important consideration for successful crate training.
Make sure to place it in an area that:
- Is well ventilated
- Has climate control
- Out of direct sunlight during the day
- Does not have a direct view outside (this can later lead to undesirable behaviors such as window barking)
- Has plenty of human traffic
That last point is absolutely critical as the intention is not to isolate your Dane. They are incredibly social and want to be around you and your family. You simply want to create a special place for them where they can feel both physically and emotionally comfortable.
If you have them as a puppy it may make sense to initially place the crate in your bedroom. This will help them adapt to the new surroundings of your home without feeling abandoned at night. It will also make it easier for you to detect any needs to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, as they will only be able to “hold it” for 2-4 hours at an early age.
However, once they are adapted to the home and able to make it through the night it makes sense to find a new spot for the crate. This little bit of separation will help them to develop their self-confidence, and not feel reliant on being around you at all times. By this time they should feel quite happy in their home, so don’t let the location switch weigh on you.
Great Dane Crate Training Process
The initial introduction to the crate is very important. You should never force them into the crate, but instead, slowly work up their level of comfort. This should be one of your first priorities in training your Great Dane when they first come home.
Start by encouraging them to explore and rest in their crate by placing treats or favorite toys in it. Allow them to walk into the crate own their own without physically forcing them in. Once they are in the crate, encourage them with more treats and attention to help build a positive association. Leave the crate door open so that they are free to come and go as they please.
It shouldn’t take long before they start to settle in and at this point, you can use your hand to physically block them from leaving. Start with small increments of just a few minutes, and gradually work your way up. Praise them each time they remain in the crate for these short sessions for their good behavior.
Before long they will choose to rest or nap in the crate on their own, and you can start closing the door. Because they should already feel comfortable in the crate at this point it should not be a big ordeal.
Here’s a great video showcasing the approach to crate training as well.
Potty Training Benefits
As previously mentioned, the crate is also a wonderful tool in potty training. Teaching them a schedule such as after meals, before bed, and first thing in the morning will help them develop a routine. After sessions in the crate make sure to immediately direct them an appropriate outdoor location to relieve themselves.
At an early age they will need to go every 2-4 hours, so keep this timing in mind. As they grow older their ability to hold it for longer durations will increase and allow you to leave them in the crate for longer.
While it may be tempting, make sure to not coat the crate with pee pads or other items that encourage them to pee in their crate. You want to take advantage of their natural inclination to not go in their home, not encourage it 😉
Great Dane Crate Selection
When it comes to a crate for your Great Dane, the saying “buy nice or buy twice” absolutely holds true. If you adopt them as a puppy they will probably weigh around 20 pounds. Fast forward to two years later as fully grown adults and they could weight up to 200 pounds! This incredible change in size means that the size requirements for a crate will also have changed.
A high-quality crate that grows with your Dane rather than them growing out of is a wise investment. Aside from the cost savings, there is also an emotional benefit. Avoiding the need to replace a puppy crate means that the dog will not have to cope with having “their” crate taken away. The best crates come with moveable sections that allow you to gradually increase the space for your Great Dane as they grow.
A properly sized area is also important to the potty training process to reinforce their desire to not soil their home. Too much space allows them room to go in one corner, and comfortably sleep in another.
Great Dane’s aren’t called the “Apollo of all dogs” for no reason. They’re enormous! As such, their space requirements for a crate also need to match. As full-grown adults, they should have two inches of clearance when standing or sitting (whichever is taller). To allow them ample room to turn around, the crate should also be at least two inches longer than their length. This is measured from the tip of the tail to the tip of the nose.
To avoid the need to buy a larger crate down the road, you should start off with one that will fit them as an adult. While males are typically larger than females, the general recommendation is still to go with a double extra-large crate. Common dimensions for these XXL crates are 45 inches tall, 35 inches wide, and 54 inches long.
In addition to size, the construction of the crate is also important. It should be strong enough to withstand the test of time, but light enough to avoid requiring a forklift for transportation. Wire crates tend to be the perfect solution as they meet both of these criteria.
In addition, they also allow for excellent ventilation and visibility. Many are also easy to assemble and can fold up for transportation. Bargain wire crates should be avoided as they typically too flimsy to last even a Dane’s full lifetime.
#1 Recommended Crate for Great Danes
By a wide margin – our favorite crate for Great Danes is the ‘Ginormus’ Double Door Dog Crate by Midwest Homes (click for more details about it on our dedicated favorite crate page). Aside from having a Dane-worthy name, it checks all the boxes for size, durability, and quality. This is the crate of choice for many breeders due to its sturdy build and reliability.
While a bit pricey upfront, you should look at a high-quality crate as an investment. It will last your dog’s lifetime and save you money from not needing to purchase replacement crates. By using the partition, it will fit your dog from puppy to adult.
The double door access also means that you’ll have more options for easy placement around your home. It comes included with the pan, so one fewer thing to purchase
In case it wasn’t clear already, this is the best XXL dog crate available in our opinion!
In addition to a good crate, you also need to line the crate with a quality bed. Great Dane’s have short coats and get cold very easily, so it should be warm enough to keep them comfortable at night. Finding one that is washable in-home is also helpful in avoiding fleas and skin rashes.
It should also provide ample support to distribute their weight and help prevent elbow sores. Dane’s joints stiffen as they age, so finding good supportive beds early own will pay dividends later. Below are several good options that provide both adequate size and support.
For more information on the top dog beds that we recommend for Great Danes, have a look at our dedicated article here.