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This breed is not for everyone and it's often quoted that it's a lifestyle.  Why lifestyle?  Because a dane requires special changes in let's say your mode of transportation for instance.  Most dane breeders & exhibitors own vans because it is the most comfortable way to transport their dogs to & from shows.  So switching from speed machine sports car to a mini-van or larger is just one area of change you may find yourself in when you decide to Live Dane.  Living Dane can also take you from an apartment to a house and yard or city lifestyle to country living as it did for me.  This page is filled with many of my personal thoughts on different areas of dane rearing.  Enjoy~

There are THREE types of breeders:
1. Conscientious Hobby / Show Breeder
Serious breeders will discuss their line's faults with you. A dog whose pedigree is comprised of nothing but good health clearances does not have a guarantee that these ailments will not strike, however the health clearances do help in minimizing the chances of hereditary defects.

Another note about SHOW BREEDERS: The aim of showing dogs originally began as a sport for evaluating the best qualities and best attributes of a dog and awarding him/her as such.  This helped breeders to improve both temperament and their breed's type.  However, today the sport has grown and there are multitudes of people from all walks of life participating showing their dogs for their own reasons.  Some finish champions with no intention of breeding, just for having the personal satisfaction of knowing they have a quality dog.  Others are there for their own egos and the dog is the tool by which the ego is fed.  Some breeders within their own breed become jealous of more successful exhibitors and will talk negatively about other people and their dogs, it's oftentimes simple "green eyed envy" and haven't we all seen this back in high school. Dog shows are filled with opinions and personalities and not everyone can agree to disagree on breeding methods, dog quality etc.  Most show breeders work very hard for a living and then enjoy their time with their dogs away at shows.  They realize that winning and losing is all part of the game and are not offended when they have lost to a better dog or had a fair shake for the win.  With the known political nature in dog shows sometimes the obvious best dog does not win and that is quiet disheartening to not only the exhibitor, other spectators but ultimately to the breed when mediocre dogs become champions.  So in short if you are shopping multiple breeders you want to find someone who is positive about his/her dogs and positive towards what you will experience as only a dane lover can imagine, you'll want to stay away from those who throw negative words out about their competition.  Always ask for references from a breeder if they are not offered.  A conscientious breeder will not be offended and will welcome the idea of you asking where their happily homed dogs are living and with whom.

2. Backyard Breeder
Backyard Breeders (BYBs) are often people who have bought one or two of a specific breed and want to make their money back and maybe a little profit back from their purchase.  Our newspapers and the Internet today are loaded with many BYBs.   Many time these people are unaware or slightly aware of the specifics of a breed.  Sometimes they are conscience of their efforts in trying to raise a well kept litter for sale to the general public.  However, they usually offer little help down the road when Scooby falls ill or you need professional advice of one type or another.  Many times they have dogs they have bought from serious show breeders or a generation or two away from a champion but can not register their dog with AKC because of having only a LIMITED REGISTRATION on their dog.  So what they will do is resort to cross registering the dog with CKC (Continental Kennel Club not to be confused with the Canadian Kennel Club) or other types of registries so they can offer some sort of "papers".  Folks let me tell you that NO MATTER where you buy your dog, AKC, CKC nor any other registry is a guarantee of a quality dog.  Even AKC and UKC registered dogs are found in puppymills and byb networks.  Sometimes a BYB may even know a little "show lingo" to make the sale.  Let me assure you, that if you get the gut instinct that these people don't know how to thoroughly answer you questions in regards to the ancestry of their dogs, then you are gambling with your money and risking a potentially expensive lesson in shopping for your next 4 legged family member.

3. Puppymiller & Pet Stores
We've all seen it on Dateline NBC or 20/20 or other news shows when a puppymill is exposed and the dogs are living in their own filth in small crates or cages with no socialization and little protection from the elements.  No daily care whatsoever other than maybe stale or molding kibble and filthy water is often the only items between life and death for these poor animals. WHEN YOU BUY FROM A PET STORE YOU PERPETUATE THESE DOG'S MISERABLE LIVES.  PLEASE DO NOT BUY A DOG FROM A PET STORE!!!   Pet Stores command retail prices for their items and their dogs.  In the mid 80's before I came into a life of great danes I saw a Shar-Pei puppy for sale at Petland in the Galleria Mall at Houston, TX.  This puppy was $3500.  They even offered financing. I don't know what ever became of the puppy but Petland stores in Texas to my knowledge are no more.  My Aunt & Uncle were recently on a trip to Arizona this past Nov 2004 and my Aunt visited a pet store in Phoenix.  She said there was a dane puppy in the store and his price tag was $1500.  The pet store had many purebred dogs for this price tag and up.  My aunt inquired and the store clerk told her they sell atleast 3 high ticket items (purebred dogs) per week. And the pet store also told my aunt that the pup comes with a 1 year guarantee should it die.  She said "well I live in Texas, if I bought this puppy how am I to transport a dead animal back to you for a refund".  They didn't have an answer.  Of course my aunt was not buying a puppy she was merely curious and knew the story would peak my interest.  A friend of mine in Pennsylvania also told me she recently saw a dane puppy in a Pet Store for $2000.   

Buyer Beware: Buying your pet from a backyard breeder, pet store or puppy mill, an "odd or rare" color won't be the only thing you'll get. Those dogs are NOT screened for even the most basic health or temperament issues let alone their pedigrees researched for health and temperament.  Again, buyer beware. For instance, let's say your backyard breeder has a dane pup for $350-450 and you find a serious breeder who has a pet pup available for $800-900 on spay/neuter contract. With the serious breeder you'll receive a puppy with known ancestry, a health guarantee and help along the way with every question that you come up with after you leave their HOME. With a pet store, backyard breeder or puppymill, well basically, THEY"VE GOT your money and you have a puppy who could potentially cost you way more than the price difference you would have spent with the serious breeder. You'll spend that price difference getting the puppy into the healthy condition of the serious breeder's pups. If that can be done. Not to mention the mental stability of the pup being well socialized. And the heartbreak of loving a pet who may not live past puppyhood due to contagious or congenital disease. So before you go buy that puppy in the window "PLEASE, PLEASE think twice". Now let's discuss that spay/neuter contract. With your pet store,back yard breeder or puppymill pup would you really want to perpetuate the problem of any serious physical, congenital or mental health defects? I would hope not!

Your Dane's Basic needs:
Quality Diet & Fresh Water Daily
Puppy Proofed home for any mishaps it can potential get into
Regular veterinary care including shots & worming
Roomy giant crate (GIANT not large or x-large I mean GIANT)
Toys & treats
Socialization (going to PETSmart, Shows, Parks, Vacation etc)
*Socialize your dane with other dogs of other sizes, people of all sizes and you will have a well-rounded welcome just about anywhere dane.
Training in obedience and training it to be groomed is essential
*Regular grooming of nails, teeth, ears & coat
Truck loads of love & attention daily !

A puppy that is tearing up your yard is only bored. I recently heard of someone giving their dane back to their breeder because it did $5000 worth of damage to their yard sprinkler system. Well, my opinion is that it's the owner's fault for having left the young dog in the yard unsupervised!

Let's talk about CRATE TRAINING for a moment:
Types of Crates: Metal / wire, Plastic or fiberglass and soft sided mesh.
In training a puppy to crate be smart and logical and above all else positive.  Do NOT USE a mesh crate for a puppy, the puppy teeth can rip right through the mesh and you'll have an escapee.  Use only wire or plastic crates size appropriate for your growing puppy.  Many of the giant crates comes with a dividing panel to limit the amount of room a dane puppy requires and you can expand it as his growth pattern requires.

Dogs are den animals and the indoor crate once a dog has been trained to it acts as it's safe abode where no harm can come to him/her.   You will find that when your dog becomes accustomed to his crate that if the door is left open he'll probably find a napping puppy or adult dog in an open doored crate.  The crate is also a tool in teaching your dog house manners.  While in the puppy stage your crate is a safe spot for your puppy while you are using household cleaners and keeps him out of harms way.  Often times I am in my office where I have several crates here in the back end of my home.  The danes or our other small dogs will go into the crates and nap.  I often find their snoring very relaxing and make myself ready for a nap.  They then follow me to my bedroom and we will have a snooze.  I admit we have lazy dogs throughout the house.  

Toys and Treats: Place your puppy's favorite toys and dog treats at the back of the crate. The best toys are the  large rubber types such as "Kong", "Nylabone" or a ball. Toys and balls should always be inedible and large enough to prevent them being swallowed. Broken toys should be thrown away to prevent choking or internal blockage. Also a large knuckle or femur bone is a treat.  However, we only give these bones when we are planning to be home and the dogs will retreat to their crates for chew time. DO NOT USE STUFFED TOYS with puppies who are unattended. The stuffing is messy but worst of all can plug up your babies delicate digestive system.

Water: A small rabbit type water dispenser  should be attached to the crate if your puppy is to be confined for more than two hours in the crate. Or a small metal bucket be attached to the interior of the crate by means of a latch.

Also make the crate a comfy place.  Use soft blankets (not comforters where the lining is ripped out).  My favorite blankets to use are the Wool Blankets we buy in Mexico.  They are thick and comfortable and fairly strong against puppy teeth.  If you choose the Mexican wool blanket choose one that is NOT FRINGED on the ends.  The fringe is very tempting and the fringed ones are less strong than the others.

The basic rule of thumb when crate training a puppy is 1 hour for every month old the puppy is should be how long you can expect him or her to be able to hold his bladder.  So an 8 wk old puppy MIGHT be able to hold his bladder for 1 - 2 hours.  A dog should never be crated for more than 6 hours at a time (unless at bedtime).  Your dog needs his exercise to continue a healthy growth pattern.  Dogs that are crated for extended periods can have foot and other long bone growth development problems.  Your dog's crate should be a tool for training and never punishment.

Danes grow fast and I've also heard of and rescued danes that have been tossed aside because the owner "didn't know it was going to get this big". Well, in my opinion again, those people are idiots! You are selecting a GREAT DANE and hence in the name they get BIG!! Unfortunately, sometimes these dogs are a novelty and the novelty wears off for irresponsible or egotistical owners. I advise someone who is seeking this type of dog as a 'status symbol' to not bother me or anyone who is a serious breeder. I don't mean to sound so harsh here, but come on really, what would you personally think of someone getting rid of their dog because it got big when it is afterall a GREAT DANE?

Training a dog is a very important tool in helping your relationship grow. Obedience is very rewarding either in competition or as a daily tool. When puppies are born they DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH, SPANISH, GERMAN OR ANY HUMAN LANGUAGE. So, when you say something to your puppy after it has learned it's name it hears "Scooby" blah, blah,blah, blah, blah. Then when your dog doesn't understand or respond to your commands he gets even more confused when "blah blah blah" is followed by the yelling of 'blah blah blah'! Does it stand to reason that the human in this scenario is really not the smart one?? That is why teaching with praise and a positive attitude and happy tone of voice are of utmost importance.  I do have a word all my dogs and my two sons know it's "ahht".  This is my quick one word for "stop whatever you are doing that you should not be doing". I believe most importantly dogs learn by repetition, so don't expect "Scooby" to learn an exercise or command, then not use it daily and then when you have a party and what to show off "Scooby's tricks" guess what - there are none because you haven't practiced with him. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!!!

Puppies and adult dogs respond best to positive reinforcement, not punishment. Food and a loving voice are excellent positive reinforcements. Let's start at something simple like 'mealtime'. Call out your dog's name followed with the command "come". If you do this at each feeding within a week your dog will automatically come when you call even if it isn't time to eat. Reinforce this both indoors and out. Take a few steps away from the puppy and call his name followed by "come". When your puppy comes to you, be the happiest person on the planet. This will keep him coming back to you. "COME" is the most important of all commands. It can prevent your dog from running into traffic, tangling with a stray dog or frightening a child in a park. BE SURE TO USE YOUR DOG'S NAME DURING TRAINING SESSIONS. ALWAYS COMMAND YOUR DOG BY WAY OF FIRST SAYING HIS NAME THEN ANY ACTION COMMAND. i.e. "Scooby SIT", or "Scooby DOWN". Do not use your dog's name prior to the STAY COMMAND. See below under STAY why...

There are a variety of ways to teach 'sit'. This is how I do it. I teach with the simple choke collar. Giving the command "Scooby, sit" for the first time, I show my dog what I want him to do by putting 2 fingers on his rump and pushing down. If I use my entire hand then I may be defeating the purpose as he may love having a 'massage' during this exercise. At the same time while I am pushing the rump down I hold the leash & collar in my right hand and keep his head up at normal height. Gentle pressure may need to be applied. Different dogs learn at various paces and some dogs can have a treat when the command is completed. Once the dog has a knowledge of what 'sit' means then and only then do you use a jerk on the choke collar when he breaks the command. Always use the dog's name followed by the command (i.e. "SCOOBY SIT"). Using his name draws his attention to you. At this time you can incorporate the command "STAY". When "Scooby" has broken his sit and you add the correction with the collar be sure to say "stay" without "Scooby's" name. This is because stay is an inactive command meaning that you don't want an action to follow the word stay. When "Scooby" hears his name he is anticipating an 'action' command.

"Down" command is an action that many people confuse with "Scooby" getting off unallowed furniture or such. The down command is completely different than the word "OFF" command. We'll discuss "OFF" in just a moment. To place "Scooby" in the "Down" command it is usually easiest for him to first be in the "SIT" position and "Down" to be his 2nd exercise of the day. From the "SIT" position gently pull "Scooby's" front paws forward while pushing his shoulder blades down with ONE FINGER ONLY. If you use your entire hand as opposed to one finger then "Scooby" will soon think that DOWN is when it is time for him to have his daily massage. Sometimes "Scooby" will be quite wiggly. If this is the case be sure that before you put him in the down position repeat the "Scooby SIT" and then use "Scooby DOWN". Repeat placing his paws forward. Once the mastery of what is expected with the down, take Scooby back into a "SIT".

The STAND exercise can be very important for your dog. This is because when you take him to the vet he generally will need to STAND for some type of physical examination. It is also practiced in AKC obedience trials and is called "STAND FOR EXAMINATION". The STAND exercise is practiced just like the sit or down, by you first placing your dog into the position and showing him what you want of him. So, we ask Scooby to SIT first and then take him into a STANDING position. It is very easy to do. FIRST command is given "Scooby STAND", then simply place your hand under his belly and lift up (or you can easily place a finger under his flank and do the same). Some dogs are easier than others. Anyhow, you repeat this exercise just as you did the SIT and DOWN. REMEMBER DOGS LEARN BY REPETITION. I think many humans do as well.

"Stay" is a command that when given is the only command that I personally know of where you do NOT first say your dog's name. This is because your dog's name is generally associated with an ACTION type command. So, when you use STAY, you should first have your dog's attention from a previous command (in the learning process). So we would say "Scooby" sit and upon "Scooby" sitting while paying attention to you then you would use the word "STAY". Try to take a step away from your dog. If "Scooby" moves then you place him back in his "SIT" and repeat the word "STAY". Move away again. If "Scooby" moves then give a correction with your choke collar and repeat the process of replacing him in his sit while saying "Scooby sit", then add stay. When attempting to move away do so only one small step at a time. After a few trial and errors the word "STAY" will be associated with being still in his spot. Once "Sit Stay" is accomplished you may move to "Down Stay" and "Stand Stay".

Penny Mikeman
Team Dagmar

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