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The Only Way to Travel With a Great Dane

My wife and I spent countless hours debating the merits and downfalls of numerous dog breeds and it always seemed that there was some reason that just about every breed was wrong for our family. Until one day we stumble across the Great Dane, almost by accident. Great Danes are of course nearly impossible to miss but I had never actually conceived of owning such a beast. I still remember speculating that the Great Dane’s short coat would be fantastic because that little hair would be so easy to clean up.

What the hell was I thinking???? Short hair easy to clean up? I have had long haired dogs and while their hair does get all over the place it just isn’t quite the same as that short hair that manages to permeate everything. It floats, it gets in food, it irreversibly lodges itself into the fabric of clothes, furniture, and just about everything else possible. All of that said, I still do like the ease of care of the short haired breeds.

I can deal with the hair inside and I can deal with the hair on my clothes and even in my food. What I cannot handle is damn hair in my car. I may not be the best at cleaning my car but there are some places I draw the line. Because of this I have determined that the only real way to transport a Great Dane is in the bed of a truck with a camper shell. This shell serves a number of different purposes for your Great Dane care.

First and foremost is keeps the damn hair out of your vehicle while you are gallivanting with your beast. This means that you can actually enjoy your Dane, before we had a camper shell we would routinely leave our poor beast at home because we simply did not want to put her in our vehicle.

Second, a camper shell is about the only reasonably sized kennel you can find for a Great Dane. When in a pinch it works well. You also have the added benefit of being able to leave your pet in the back of your secure vehicle and not return to an utterly destroyed and slobbered on vehicle interior.

Last but not least a camper shell keeps you and your pet safer. I say safer because your dog can still get banged around but at least it is not in an uncovered truck bed. And, I say keep you safer because pets in vehicles are actually a pretty dangerous combination. They are a major distraction and they are nearly impossible to seat belt in. During an accident a huge dog flinging around the inside of your vehicle can be a highly destructive force.

This is a tried and true Great Dane approved tip from an owner who has been around the block with these silly loveable animals. A truck with a camper shell is an absolute must have for anyone considering getting a Great Dane.

Grass is not Great Dane Approved

Yards, grass of any type or any type of nice garden type area are most certainly not great dane approved. Lets take a closer look a this and see if it actually matters to you. Many folks I know would much rather have a nice yard than a pet. Others put their pets before their children, yards be damned. Which type are you?

One thing to get straight first is that virtually any dog will ruin your yard, it doesn’t matter if it is a pip-squeak poodle. You can guarantee that with pets your grass will not be pristine. Little dogs make trails and their poop is harder to find when it hides in the grass. At least with great dane dog bombs you don’t have any trouble locating the danger.

If you are unfamiliar with animal patterns they are much like people in that they develop habits. Dogs habits are readily visible by the paths that they leave in your yard. They often run the same laps when they get excited, jump on the fence in the same place, or pace in the same area when they are nervous. One particularly bothersome habit that I have recently noticed as the weather warms up is that of my female great dane seeking out the longest healthiest grass on which to sprawl out. I am guessing that this has something to do with the coolness of the grass or the ergonomic benefits of laying in long grass as opposed to short. Whatever the case, it serves to destroy my best looking grass, but at least she tends to rotate her favorite area. This at least means that my yard looks uniformly crappy.

You have a couple of choices about how to approach this particular situation. You could get rid of your beast of burden, but who wants to do that? We love our beasts even if they are a burden. So, you are left with accepting the fact that you will have a less than perfect yard.

I suggest that you make a claim on at least a small portion of your yard. Section of a small area or a patio, at least for a zen meditation garden, you may need this to relax your nerves after dealing with your great dane. Your space requirements will vary depending on your love for your animal, the size of your yard, and the love for your kids. Build fences, buy prefab metal fence pieces, get creative. But stake your claim and stick to it. You do after all need your space.

This strategy allows you to love your beasts despite the fact that they are destructive little devils. Setting up your living environment so that everyone is primed for success is one of the best ways of making sure that your pets and the rest of your family have happy healthy lives and it will lower your stress level.

Let me repeat. Yards are not great dane approved but they are pretty much essential so you better figure out to make them work if you expect to have a happy and well adjusted great dane.

Proper Care and Feeding of a Great Dane

Most people have had some experience with raising or caring for a dog at some point or another but not everyone knows how to properly raise a great dane. While I do love great danes and think they are the best family dog around I also believe that one dane is equal to two toddlers. Proper care and feeding of a great dane is highly important if you want to have a well adjusted pet. If you want to have a unruly beast pacing the house and stealing food off the top of your refrigerator then don’t worry about reading the rest of this.

Training During the Early Years

Training begins when the dane is a still a puppy. Great dane puppies are cute, cuddly and not all that big so it is easy to ignore the fact that the little puppy may soon outweigh you. At all cost do not let the puppy jump on you, dominate you in any way or get away with any behavior that you would not let a bigger dog get away with. What your puppy learns now it will carry with it through out its life. If you don’t want your pet on the furniture now is the time to make that clear.

Some specifics about danes jumping on people is important because they are famous for it and it is also highly dangerous for kids, elderly, or anyone who is not prepared for a loving dane hug. Most danes try to jump on their people at some point, the key is to always discourage this. The best way to do this is to either hold them down if you see them coming up or give them a strong paw squeeze if you are too late to prevent the jump. They do not like the paw squeeze but it does not hurt them. For most danes this is just enough reinforcement that it prevents jumping.

I highly suggest obedience training from a young age as well. When I say this, I mean proper obedience training, at a school, with an instructor, and plenty of positive reinforcement and practice. Your life and your dogs life could depend on being properly trained.

Keeping Your Family Healthy

That is enough about behavior for now, health is equally important. It is important to note that great danes are fairly susceptible to Parvo when they are young. Parvo can live in your yard for years and be carried on your shoes from virtually anywhere. Puppies are susceptible to Parvo when they are being weened from the mother. Parvo has a 90% mortality rate and happens to be preventable by getting your dog it’s scheduled shots. If you don’t want to spend money at the vet many local feed stores will also carry low cost pet shots that you inject yourself. It is your responsibility as a pet owner to do all that you can to keep your pet healthy.

Great dane puppies eat a lot and still look like concentration camp survivors. Your puppy may very well gain 100 pounds during its first year. This means they grow incredibly fast. Make sure that you are feeding your puppy enough and that you are giving it ample opportunity to go outside and do its business. Because your dane is growing so fast and the skeletal structure is not fully developed it is a good idea to limit physical activity to some extent during the first two years. This does not mean don’t let your puppy be a puppy it means don’t take your dog jogging or make it do more than it is willing to do. Regular walks are important just don’t overdo the activity.

Once your great dane gets to be full grown it is probably not quite full grown. Just when you think they are finished growing they will get a little bigger. Danes tend to reach full skeletal size then fill out during their second year. During this time you will have to closely monitor food intake and make sure that your dane does not start to put on excess weight. Overweight great danes are in danger of serious back problems because of the way that they carry their weight. A healthy great dane should have fairly low body fat, meaning that some of the musculature should be visible beneath the skin. If you can grab flab it is time for a diet.

Great danes are fabulous family pets and have more personality than many people I know. But because of their short life span and their genetic predisposition to certain health problems it is highly important that you do all that you can to keep you great dane healthy.