How to Obedience Train a Great Dane

Medium
3-6 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Great Danes are large beautiful animals. If you happen to have a Great Dane who has not been trained, he will be very difficult for you to handle as he grows older and larger. Because the Great Dane is such a large, strong dog, you're going to want him to be obedient so you can keep him safe and trust that he will listen when it matters most. 

Your Great Dane is incredibly smart. He is eager to please, and he wants to learn new things every day. Begin with basic obedience training with your Great Dane and then move forward to more advanced training to keep his mind engaged and continue to build the trust and the bond between the two of you. Great Danes are fun, sweet, and incredibly affectionate. Once you have obedience training down, try playing a game of soccer with your Great Dane. 

Defining Tasks

There are a few basic obedience tricks your Great Dane should learn before he moves forward to more advanced training. Your Great Dane should learn how to 'sit', 'lie down', 'stay', 'come', and 'heel', along with knowing how to walk on a leash using proper leash manners, before you teach him any cute or fun tricks. Every step of obedience training for your Great Dane will be a building block for the next trick to come, whether it's an obedience command or a fun trick. You can teach your Great Dane puppy much easier than your adult Great Dane. However, older Great Danes can be taught as well. Remember your Great Dane is incredibly smart. He will be eager to please you once you show him you are the leader of his pack. Don’t be fooled by his size either. He will work hard for a tiny treat so there will be no worries about too many treats during training.

Getting Started

To train your Great Dane basic obedience commands, you will need lots of small but tasty treats to keep him engaged, motivated, and rewarded. You will also need to have your Great Dane on a leash.from time to time. Your Great Dane is incredibly strong, so a harness where the connector for the leash is on the chest rather than the back is recommended. Start with small training tasks and move up to other commands, building from one basic obedience command to the next. 

The Basic Commands Method

ribbon-method-3
Most Recommended
8 Votes
Step
1
Prepare
Prepare for all of your basic obedience training with your Great Dane with lots of treats a little extra time to focus without distractions. You may need a leash in the event your Great Dane tries to get away from you.
Step
2
Sit
Stand in front of your Great Dane with a treat in your hand. He may jump on you to get to the treat, or he may sit down. If he jumps up, turn your back and ignore him. If he sits, which is more likely because he'll get bored and tired, give him the treat. Repeat this using the command ‘sit’ until your Great Dane gets that this is a basic command he needs to know.
Step
3
Down
When your Great Dane understands the 'sit' position, have him sit and give him a treat. Take a second treat and bring it down to the floor. Put it between his paws and then pull it out away from him a bit. Do this several times until your Great Dane lies down. Once he's in a 'down' position, give him a treat. Keep practicing, using the command ‘down.’
Step
4
Stay
With ‘sit’ and ‘down’ understood, have your Great Dane practice ‘stay’ while you take a few steps away from him. Put him in a 'sit' or 'down' position, hold your hand up, palm facing out, and take a couple of steps backward. Tell him to stay. When he doesn't move, walk back to him and give him the treat. Practice as he understands when you walk away the expectation is that he stays put until released.
Step
5
Come or release
Train your Great Dane to come when called or release him from the stay position. To do this, have him in a 'sit and stay' position. Show your Great Dane a treat, hold your hand with fingers pointing down, palm out, and ask him to come or use the command ‘release.’ Show him the treat, encouraging him to come get it.
Step
6
Leash manners
Put your Great Dane on a leash and go for a walk. Anytime your dog is distracted or pulls at the leash, stop in your tracks until he can no longer walk. You need to make sure your Great Dane is not strong enough to pull you along and it when you stop, he stops. Walking with a high-value treat above his nose certainly helps with leash manners.
Step
7
Keep training
Once these basic obedience commands are taught to your Great Dane, continue to work with him every day. Building respect and obedience in your Great Dane takes time, patience, and commitment. Your Great Dane is an incredibly smart dog. He is also incredibly loyal. He wants to be the follower in your pack, so become a leader, set boundaries, give him commands, and reward him for great behavior.
Step
8
Rewards
While training your Great Dane, award anytime he is successful. Make training rewards high-value, such as cheese, beef, jerky, or hot dogs. These are treats he'll know he only gets during a training session. Any time you catch your Great Dane doing something great, say a word or a command he will recognize and reward him with a treat. This acknowledgment builds his confidence and keeps him obedient.
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The Respect Training Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
6 Votes
Step
1
Set boundaries
Give your Great Dane clear, defined rules. This will keep you at the top of the hierarchy within your pack. Your dog will depend on you to set the rules and the boundaries and give consequences when he doesn't follow or obey.
Step
2
Start with grooming
Even when your Great Dane doesn't need to be brushed or bathed, groom him often. This might mean picking up his ears and looking inside. Pull on a couple of hairs inside his ears. Lift his gums and check out his teeth. Put your fingers in his mouth, so he knows you are doing these things often and it's okay.
Step
3
Food
Set your place within his pack as his leader by taking away his food every now and then. Give it back quickly, of course, but let him know you can take his food away and return it to him without him growling, barking, or getting upset. This begins to teach your Great Dane he is to obey and listen to you, and in turn, you will care for him and make the best decisions for him.
Step
4
Follower
Your Great Dane needs to be a follower rather than a leader in your pack. Putting your Great Dane in a follower position builds up his security and his respect for you. He'll know that you are in charge and he'll wait for your commands. Followers wait patiently to be fed. They ask before they expect something such as to be petted. Begin to train your Great Dane now to wait patiently for the things he wants.
Step
5
Basic commands
Train Your Great Dane basic obedience commands. These will include 'sit', 'stay', 'lie down', 'come', and 'heel'. Because your Great Dane is a giant breed, you should teach him to heel as well as how to use leash manners when walking on a leash.
Step
6
Redirection
When your Great Dane needs to be redirected, simply ignore poor behaviors and always overly reward great behavior. Your Great Dane will learn very quickly which behavior gets him rewards and which behavior gets your back turned towards him.
Step
7
Practice
Practice making your Great Dane obedient to only you, the leader of his pack, by building up his confidence, turning him into your follower, and having him respect you. This will take lots of conversation with your Great Dane. He will listen to every word you say as long as he respects you. When listening to you, he will wait for the commands you have taught him, knowing he can earn rewards.
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The Commands and Words Method

ribbon-method-2
Least Recommended
4 Votes
Step
1
Basic conversation
Your Great Dane wants nothing more than to please you. As your dog grows, he is going to listen to everything you say. Though he won't understand it all, you do want him to understand as much as he possibly can. Start working on words you can teach your Great Dane so you can have full conversations with him. This will make him an obedient Great Dane.
Step
2
Commands
Train your Great Dane to sit. Once your Great Dane understands the 'sit' command, build his training to 'lie down'. From the 'down' position, work on 'stay' and 'come'. Teach him leash manners with and without distractions. After about three months, when you are done with basic obedience training, your Great Dane should know all of the basic commands and the rules to stay with you and when it's okay to play.
Step
3
Tone
Practicing tone is especially easy to do when your Great Dane is a puppy or learning new tasks. When your dog needs to be redirected, your tone needs to be a bit more firm than normal. Avoid raising your voice or yelling, and never hit your dog when you're angry at his choices. When your Great Dane is making great choices, celebrate with a happy tone in your voice.
Step
4
Other words
Train your Great Dane to understand other common words. Your dog is going to love to listen to you talk. This will build the respect he has for you and teaches him some great words. Besides obedience commands, your Great Dane will love knowing common words he will hear from you every day such as ‘treat,’ ‘food,’ ‘dinner,’ ‘toy,’ ‘no,’ ‘yes,’ ‘bed,’ and more.
Step
5
Practice respect
The list of words to teach your Great Dane is pretty endless. The more he knows, the more he will listen to you when it matters most. By teaching your Great Dane when you're disappointed in his behavior and when you're excited, basic obedience commands and everyday words he will hear will give him more respect for you. He will and see you as his leader and therefore obey you.
Step
6
Continue training
Once your Great Dane has gone through a few months of basic obedience training, don't stop training. Train your Great Dane fun tricks like how to fetch, to roll a soccer ball, or to make a soccer goal. There are all kinds of fun tricks to teach your Great Dane once he has obedience down. Constantly training your Great Dane will keep him an obedient dog with you as his leader.
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Written by Stephanie Plummer

Published: 01/31/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Willie
Great Dane
4 Months
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Question
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Willie
Great Dane
4 Months

Basic training

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gwilda, At www.wagwalking.com/training you can find many articles on how to teach individual commands, like Sit, Come, Down, ect... I would check out those individual articles and focus on lure reward, treat type methods for a puppy this age who is just getting started. Also, check out these videos of a puppy class. Follow along with your puppy at home and practice the exercises to help with general basic obedience: Puppy Class videos: Week 1, pt 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnhJGU2NO5k Week 1, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-1-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 2, pt 1 https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-2-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 2, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-2-part-2-home-jasper-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 3, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-3-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 3, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-3-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 4, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-4-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 4, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-4-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 5, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-5-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 5, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-5-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 6, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-6-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 6, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-6-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1-0 Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Zeus
Great Dane
1 Year
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Zeus
Great Dane
1 Year

On walks if another dog is barking in yard or charges towards us , Zeus starts charging and jumping about and has twice cut my leg with his paws .

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
239 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell his fear. First we reduce his fear around new dogs, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at other dogs to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear other dogs because of genetic reasons, lack of socialization, fights when they were puppies, or any scary (to the dog) interaction with other dogs. Sometimes having low thyroid levels contributes to unwanted canine behavior. During this time, avoid any punishment for reactivity. Doing so will make her concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate other dogs with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what she is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram her opinions of other dogs. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage (or somewhere out of the way if those two options aren't possible) with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time another dog comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at his (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell your dog "watch me" every time you see another dog approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see another dog, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with the other dog. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

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Question
Hank
Great Dane
3 Years
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Hank
Great Dane
3 Years

Hank is a 3 year old rescue who was abused and never leash trained properly. He has live for the past year with a 13 year old boston terrier, however when rejoined he didn’t mix well with our 3 goldendoodles. We want a trainer who can help us properly introduce Hank to the triplets, and give us some leash training advice.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kayla, To find a trainer in your area you can go through the Wag! app. 1. Download the Wag! app. 2. Create a login and password. 3. Where it says "What does your dog need?", select "Training" - the whistle icon 4. Select training type - some regions only offer digital at this time. 5. Click schedule once you have selected training type, then you will be shown various trainers in your area you can swipe through. 6. You can "favorite" - the heart icon, your favorite ones who seem to have the experience you need listed. 7. After you have favorited your preferences in trainers, click continue. 8. Next, you will see a place to fill out your training needs, fill out the date, start time, pet profile for the dog needing training (or create one at this point if you don't have one), and type out your training goals in the "Training Goals" box. 9. After those things are filled out, you can click confirm details, and your training request will be shown to the trainers in your area, starting with those you favorited first. 10. Trainers who feel they are a good fit for your training needs experience and schedule wise, should then accept your job and get in touch with you through the app. I personally only handle online training needs through this platform and am likely not located in your area also, but the app can get you set up with a trainer to work one-on-one with you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Sif
Great Dane
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Sif
Great Dane
9 Months

Getting her in her kennel

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tristan, Check out the article I have linked below. If pup is food motivated, I would try working on the Surprise method first. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Once she is consistently going in for the treats, begin to give a command whenever she goes in, like Crate, Kennel, Home, or the word of your choosing, while motioning toward the kennel. You can also keep a drag leash on pup while practicing this to make it easier to keep her in the area. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Leila
Great Dane
7 Weeks
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Leila
Great Dane
7 Weeks

We have been training her for a bit. We trained her the basics but we have to train her not to tackle my 10 year old daughter. She gets pinned down by her. Do you have any recommendation?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kennadie, It looks like puppy is 7 weeks old? If pup is 7 months or 7 years instead of weeks please respond back with that correction because this would be handled a bit differently if so. Assuming pup is 7 weeks, I recommend teaching pup the Leave It and Out commands - Out meaning leave the area. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ After you teach pup Out using the section in the article on how to teach out, follow the section on How to Use Out to Deal with Pushy Behavior on her behalf, found in that article to enforce pup leaving your daughter alone on her behalf when pup won't respond to her Out command verbally. Also, check out the article I have linked below for jumping. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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