There is almost nothing more dangerous than an out-of-control giant breed dog. Good leash skills are one of the most important things that you can teach your Great Dane! If you are ready to learn how to teach a Great Dane to walk on a leash, read on.
Don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. With a little patience and some positive, thoughtful balanced dog training, you’ll have your Dane walking nicely on a leash in no time. Here’s what you need to know.
- TEACH YOUR GREAT DANE TO WALK ON A LEASH – STEP ONE
- LEASH WALKING BASICS: TEACH FOCUS & ‘WITH ME’
- HOW TO TRAIN A GREAT DANE TO BE CALM
- PRACTICE LEASH WALKING
- THE BEST LEASH FOR GREAT DANES
- HOW DO I STOP MY GREAT DANE FROM PULLING?
- GREAT DANE TRAINING TOOLS
- E-COLLAR TRAINING
- SHOULD I USE A GREAT DANE HARNESS?
- OFF-LEASH OBEDIENCE FOR GREAT DANES
TEACH YOUR GREAT DANE TO WALK ON A LEASH – STEP ONE
Step one: start with basic obedience commands like sit, look (at me), and touch (the palm of your hand).
You’ll need to have these commands taught at a basic level before you can move on to really teaching your dog how to walk on a leash. All of these skills are easy to teach using positive reinforcement!
Use lots of rewards. This helps your Dane build confidence and will help you install correct behaviors (which will come in handy if your Great Dane pulls a lot when you leave the house)!
You’ll notice a massive difference in your dog if you practice these skills even just 5-10 minutes each day.
LEASH WALKING BASICS: TEACH FOCUS & ‘WITH ME’
In this stage, you will work with your dog off-leash in your home or in a fenced yard.
If you don’t have space for safe off-leash work, use a long leash and an ergonomic harness (we do not recommend using ‘Petsafe’ or ‘Easy Walk’ no-pull harnesses on Great Danes).
Use lots of treats and with your Great Dane on the left side, take a step. Praise, treat and repeat.
Practice this until you can walk 10 steps or more between rewards. Add obstacles such as cones or balls, too, and practice walking around them together. Reward your dog for engaging with you!
HOW TO TRAIN A GREAT DANE TO BE CALM
Many people struggle in this step of teaching focus, engagement, and calm behavior in all environments.
You may notice that your Great Dane does AMAZING with these leash training exercises when you are at home, but when you go somewhere new they forget everything that you’ve taught them!
Here are some tips for teaching your Great Dane to be calm in ALL environments:
- Use structure and routines at home to encourage ‘calm’ settling behavior
- Teach a ‘place’ command and build this skill up until you can say ‘place’ and expect your dog to settle there, no matter what
- Make sure your Great Dane is getting enough physical and mental enrichment! The world is much less exciting to a dog that is satisfied. Proper enrichment will reduce anxiety, boredom, and the frustrating behaviors that result from not getting enough. (Read our blog post on bored Great Danes! and also the best toys for Great Danes)
PRACTICE LEASH WALKING
Now it’s time to increase the difficulty! You’ll want to work on your leash skills in a variety of places with varying distractions.
Start off slowly, with just a few minutes of walking at first. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend walking together as your dog gets more comfortable ignoring the world and focusing on YOU.
When you encounter a distraction, ask your dog to engage with you and continue moving.
THE BEST LEASH FOR GREAT DANES
We recommend that all Great Dane owners have three leashes:
1. A good long Biothane leash (for off-leash training and being in places where being off-leash is not legal)
2. A leather leash with a sturdy clip for everyday use and walking with a flat collar, martingale, headcollar, or prong collar
3. A leather slip lead for ease of use, training, and safety (slip leads are escape-proof!)
HOW DO I STOP MY GREAT DANE FROM PULLING?
We recommend that all Great Danes who pull revisit leash walking 101, outlined above.
However, there will come a time for all Great Danes where the environment is simply more rewarding than any treat or praise that you can offer!
You can make two choices here: never go places, or use tools to communicate with your dog.
GREAT DANE TRAINING TOOLS
We recommend the use of well-fitted Herm Sprenger Prong Collars for Great Danes that pull.
Prong collars are commonly used for Great Danes, but it is important to use them correctly. If you’re not sure how to use a prong collar, ask a highly qualified positive-balanced dog trainer for help.
Herm Springer is the ONLY brand worth buying; they cost more but they are built correctly and created with rounded edges so that your dog feels evenly distributed pressure, NOT pain during use.
We recommend the use of a wide, flat martingale collar for most Great Danes.
Modern E-Collars are introduced in a positive way and use muscle stimulation as a communication (not sharp static ‘shock’). When used and conditioned properly, E-Collars from E-Collar Technologies can be an amazing and helpful tool for off-leash work AND developing better on-leash skills.
We use and recommend only E-Collar Technologies.
SHOULD I USE A GREAT DANE HARNESS?
Harnesses have their place, however, for most Great Danes they are the wrong choice.
The only appropriate harness to buy for a Great Dane will have a y-front on it. All other harnesses (including those marketed as ‘No-Pull’ such as the ‘Freedom’ or ‘Easy-Walk’ harness) work by squeezing the shoulders, throwing the dog off-balance, and restricting movement.
One big problem with choosing a y-front harness for your Great Dane is that if your Great Dane were to pull you, they have a ton of leverage to do so.
A proper Y-front harness should be used with a long leash and only with dogs that do NOT pull, lunge or react. We recommend the RUFFWEAR FRONT RANGE HARNESS.
OFF-LEASH OBEDIENCE FOR GREAT DANES
We believe that all Great Danes should also be reliably off-leash trained. Good off-leash skills translate to great on-leash skills!
Reducing the reliance on a leash and collar for every activity is much healthier for them from a physical and mental enrichment standpoint, too.
Off-leash dogs cannot damage their gait, neck, or head by lunging into collars, harnesses, or ‘Gentle Leaders’. They also get to experience the freedom of movement which is very enriching to them.
For more information about off-leash training, visit our E-Collar and off-leash obedience category!