Great Danes are often referred to as gentle giants. They are good with children and are very playful. However, because of their size, you must be willing to have space for them in your home and you must be ready for their appetite. Males can reach up to 32 inches tall and can weigh as much as 120 pounds. Great Danes will guard their home and generally get along well with other animals but there are some that can be aggressive even with other dogs that they know. The fact is, there can be behavior problems with Great Danes as with other dogs, and one of the things that puzzle their humans is their constant pacing.
The Root of the Behavior
Anxiety is one of the main reasons why your Great Dane is restless and is always pacing. There are many things that cause anxiety and some of them are thunderstorms, strangers, and separation from their humans. Pacing is a dog’s natural response to tension buildup. Dogs with anxiety need to find a way to cope with how they feel and by pacing, they have an outlet for all their pent-up energy. Pacing can be a symptom of pain and it may also be a symptom of psychological distress. Other behaviors which you need to look out for are restlessness, inability to lie down, panting, reluctance to drink or eat, tail tucked between the legs, and signs of physical injury such as limping. If you think that your dog is in pain, you must bring him to the veterinarian right away. However, if it is due to an existing condition, you have to make sure that you give him the proper dose of medication as advised by the veterinarian.
Dogs are just like humans. When they are bored, they will find ways to entertain themselves. Pacing, in this instance, is just something for your dog to do and it is not a telltale sign of a bigger medical problem. Even if it is not as worrying as the other reasons, it is still an issue that needs to be addressed. Dogs in general, not just Great Danes, need exercise. If you do not take them out for their daily run or early morning walk, your dog will decide to exercise himself and he might do so by pacing. If you continue to ignore your Great Dane’s exercise needs even after you observe him pacing, you can bet it will lead to more destructive behaviors such as chewing things, digging holes, soiling inside the house, and eating house plants.
Encouraging the Behavior
Pacing is a behavior that is worrisome to dog owners. Fortunately, it is something that you can put a stop to. After you have determined that your dog is not pacing due to a medical condition, you can then think of other ways to prevent it. Keep your dog active. Set aside time either in the morning or in the evening to take him out for a 30-minute run or walk. If your dog has spent all his energy, there will be lesser chances of him pacing. If you cannot get a dog sitter or drop him off at doggie daycare, you can invest in a physically and mentally stimulating toy. If he is entertained, he won’t even think about pacing back and forth.
Was there any recent change in the household? Was anything added to your dog’s diet? Was there anything that disrupted your dog’s usual schedule? These are some of the things you need to ask yourself. Sometimes even small changes such as the arrival of a new baby can turn your dog’s world upside down. Focus on addressing the root cause of your Great Dane’s anxiety and desensitize him to it by training him or working with a canine behaviorist. Sometimes the veterinarian might also prescribe anti-anxiety medications for your dog.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Pacing, in dogs of both sexes, may also be a sign of hormonal behaviors. Male dogs that are not fixed may be extremely restless and may pace or even run away from home. Unspayed female dogs may also display the same behavior when they are in heat. In order to prevent these behaviors, some owners may opt to have their dogs neutered or spayed. Frequent pacing could also signify that your dog is suffering from symptoms of aging. As dogs get old, they often develop cognitive issues which may make them confused or disoriented. If your dog paces a lot with no apparent destination or end to his actions, you should be on the lookout for other hints of problems such as excessive daytime sleeping, shaking, and no reaction to his name.
When your giant friend starts pacing, it is important that you pay attention to his behavioral patterns. By doing so you will be able to tell what the possible causes are, work on your action plan, and get your dog to stop from pacing aimlessly in no time. He might even give you a lick on the face or two as a way of saying thank you.