How to Train a Great Dane to Not Chew

How to Train a Great Dane to Not Chew
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-2 Months
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Training your Great Dane not to chew on things in the house is important to both protect your valuables as well as keep your dog safe. Unless you nip problem chewing in the bud fast, you will find that these large dogs can be quite destructive.

Chewing can lead to:

  • Damaged furniture, rugs, flooring and even drywall
  • Your pooch getting hurt from household poisons or chewing on a live electrical cord
  • Injury from swallowing sharp objects such as hard shards of plastic, wood, nails, and screws

Luckily, getting your Great Dane to learn the rules about chewing is usually not a difficult thing to do. This guide will give your three different methods to stop problem chewing. Instead of trying one, use all three to get the best and fastest results. 

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Defining Tasks

Dogs need to chew. It is unrealistic and unfair to expect your Great Dane to stop chewing altogether. This is particularly true when she is teething. At around 5-7 months, you can expect a major explosion in the drive to chew as your Great Dane is losing her baby teeth and adult teeth are pushing their way in.

Although teething is totally normal, how you handle this critical stage of your dog’s development will make a major impact on her chewing habits for the rest of her life. If your Great Dane is in the teething stage, it is the perfect time to work on her chewing habits. However, these methods will work for Great Danes at any life stage.

Make sure that you have plenty of appropriate toys for her to chew on. Be sure to cover a range of sizes, textures, and hardness so that she has options to choose from that are safe and dog-proof. Always reward your dog with praise when she makes the choice to chew on a toy rather than the corner of the sofa!

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Getting Started

Here are some things to have ready before you get started training your Great Dane not to chew:

  • Appropriate doggy chew toys in several shapes, sizes and textures.
  • Both food related chews like large rawhide bones and non-food chews like rubber and plush toys made just for dogs.
  • Dog crate, kennel or small room where you can give your canine a “time out” away from other people and dogs.
  • A sturdy tug toy that is made to withstand play with large dogs such as a large tug made from braided fleece, rope or another dog-safe material.
  • Handful of high-value food rewards that your dog loves such as small pieces of chicken, cheese or commercial dog treats. 

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The Reward Right Chewing Method

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Supervise

If your Great Dane is a problem chewer, then the first step is to make sure she is not left in a place where she can get into chew trouble when she is unsupervised. This way, the instant she tries to chew something she is not supposed to, you can catch her in the act before any damage is done.

2

Redirect

Make sure you have lots of appropriate chew toys to offer your dog. As soon as you catch her chewing something she is not supposed to, lure her away from it by tempting her with one of her good chew toys. Reward her with praise once she starts chewing on her toy.

3

Lots of toys

Make chew toys interesting by engaging your dog with the toys. Give them a toss, play a gentle game of tug, or try some “keep away” so that your pooch knows that her toys are fun to chew and play with.

4

Reward

When you catch your Great Dane chewing on her own toys, make a big deal about how good she is with praise. You can also give her a delicious surprise food treat to make sure she knows you are proud of her for making a good choice.

5

Curb problem chewing

Make chewing on furniture and other valuables less rewarding by spraying them with products recommended to curb dog chewing such as sour apple spray.

The Tug of War Method

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Why play tug

Teaching your Great Dane how to properly play Tug of War is a way to give them another appropriate way to channel their chew drive without taking it out on your property.

2

The rules

The rules of Tug of War are: 1. No teeth should ever touch skin. 2. “Drop it!” must be obeyed instantly. 3. Tug is a game only a person can start – that is – do not allow your dog to ever start a game of tug by trying to grab an object already in your hand.

3

Enforce the rules

Always enforce the rules of tug by ending the game if any of the rules are violated by your dog.

4

Initiate tug

Start by enticing your dog to tug on their end of the toy by being fun and exciting. Say “Tug it!” in a fun way once they are already eagerly tugging their end. Go ahead and let them win about 50% of the time. This keeps the game fun and builds her confidence to play. No one wants to play a game they can never win.

5

Drop it!

Say “Drop it!” and then go limp with your hand, releasing the pressure on the tug, but not letting go. With your other hand, offer a treat and praise your dog when he lets go of the tug to get the treat. Over time, you want to get an actual drop BEFORE offering the treat.

6

Play often!

Once your dog knows the rules to tug, play the game often. Continue to practice “Drop it!” regularly as well, although you can eventually stop giving him a separate reward for dropping it since starting up a new game of tug is all the reward he will need!

The Time Out Method

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Catch him

When you catch your Great Dane chewing on something he is not supposed to, say “Too Bad!” and take him to a "time out” space.

2

3-5 minutes

Leave your dog in time out for 3-5 minutes. Make sure you wait until he stops whining before releasing him from time out.

3

Try again

Welcome him out from his time out with an approved chew toy and entice him to get busy chewing.

4

Repeat

Repeat the above steps, making sure to be consistent.

5

Safety

Remember that a dog that does not yet know what he is allowed to chew is not safe to be left unsupervised. Combine 'time out' training with rewards for chewing on the correct toys.

By Sharon Elber

Published: 03/09/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Zoe

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Great Dane

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9 Months

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Question

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She is chewing up everything at night pill bottles,wood,Parmesan cheese bottles, absolutely anything she can get into she is tearing it up. I’m trying not to make her sleep in a kennel at night but it is getting to the point I am done replacing and cleaning up this horrible mess every morning. What can I do?

Nov. 11, 2021

Zoe's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, She absolutely needs to sleep in a crate at night; this doesn't have to be permanent, but while you are sleeping you won't be able to consistently teach pup not to chew those things. The longer pup is allowed to chew them without your intervention, the greater the risk of that chewing behavior turning into a long term habit, which would mean pup having to be crated while you are away potentially for years. Crating pup temporarily, while also practicing commands that help with the chewing while awake during this age, can give pup a lot more freedom in the long term by preventing long term bad habits from forming. The age pup is at is a common destructive chewing age. I generally recommend crating at night and while away until pup is 18 months old (some dogs are ready a little sooner) AND pup hasn't destroyed anything they should leave alone for at least 3 months. Check out this article on chewing for somethings you can practice during the day. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Nov. 11, 2021

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Kane

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Great Dane

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10 Weeks

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Question

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He chews everything. He’s covered in pee in the morning at 7am because he pees in his crate. He doesn’t pee in it at 2:30am which is why it’s confusing on why he’s doing that. He doesn’t listen well at all. What do I do?

Sept. 22, 2021

Kane's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kyle, Check out the chewing article I have linked below. Know that the chewing at this age is normal. It still needs training but almost every puppy owner deals with it during teething. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ At this age puppies generally need 1-2 potty trips at night to avoid an accident. Most puppies will cry to be let out if the crate is set up to encourage pup not to go potty in there. The occasional puppy won't wake you to go - when pup won't wake you, you need to set an alarm. I would set an alarm to take pup every 3-4 hours at night. You can add one hour to that time every month pup gets older. Most puppies can be expected to hold it all night (8-10 hours) between 5-6 months of age (You may have to experiment to see when your pup is ready. The rare pup can do it at 4 months, but not always consistently). I would start by looking at your crate set up before trying the alarm. The crate should not have anything absorbent in it, like a soft bed or towel or t-shirt. Most puppy owners will give a soft bed, so that's a common thing that leads to accidents. You can use something like www.primopads.com or k9ballistics crate mats. The key is non-absorbent, until pup is older and fully potty trained. The crate also needs to be only big enough for pup to stand up, lie down, and turn around. If it's so big that pup can go potty in one end and try to stand in the opposite end to avoid the accident, pup probably also won't be motivated to hold it. Finally, you need to ensure you can hear pup when they cry to go out at night. If pup sleeps in another room, use an audio baby monitor to listen out for pup. If pup isn't barking to ask to go out despite a correct crate set up now or once you adjust the crate, after a couple of days with the new set up, then I would set an alarm and you take pup out at night. Pup will need to go potty as soon as they wake, so in the morning, that's probably why pup is having an accident - pup has held it all night, is waking up before you, not barking, then having an accident before anyone is there to take them outside. Because of this, I would either try to wake up before pup, or have one of the middle of the night potty trips happen 2-3 hours before it's time to wake up for the day, so pup isn't as desperate to go potty when they wake in the morning. . Keep night and morning potty trips calm and boring - no treats, no play, little talking, no early breakfast. Take pup on leash to help them stay focused on going and not play. Walk pup around slowly to sniff while on leash. As soon as pup goes potty, go back inside and return pup to the crate until it's time to wake up for the morning. Ignore pup's barking when you return them to the crate. Pups will usually bark in protest of having to go back to bed for a bit for 1-2 weeks, until they get into the routine. You might have the exception who is quiet hopefully. You can practice the Surprise method during the day to help pup learn to be quiet when crated sooner, if needed. Only give treats during daytime practice though, not at night. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Sept. 23, 2021


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