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December is a popular time to get a new Great Dane puppy. I believe that a lot of this is related to the Holidays; puppies are readily available, adorable, and popular to receive or give for Christmas!

If you are new to the world of Great Danes, or ready for a refresher, let’s jump in. I’ll be covering:

  • Great Dane puppy nutrition
  • Crate and potty training
  • Training and socialization basics
  • Favorite must-have Great Dane puppy products
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What to Feed a Great Dane Puppy

This is arguably the most common question we see in the community. Because Great Danes grow so quickly, they are prone to a number of devastating growth disorders such as knuckling, hip dysplasia, Pano, and Angular Limb Deformity.

Nutrition plays a big role in these disorders. Great Dane puppies cannot eat just any food that you pick out at the pet store. They require nutrition that is balanced specifically to support their growth.

Lucky for you, we made a list! No need to deep dive, research, or read a million labels. (Though, if you are a science nerd like we are, we have TONS of great deep-dive style Great Dane puppy nutrition articles, which I will link below).

Great Dane puppies should be fed a well-researched large OR giant-breed puppy food until 18-24 months of age.

So simple. Here is the list to choose from. These foods are safe, nutritious, correctly balanced, and packed with everything your Great Dane puppy needs to thrive. If they are on this list, it’s because we believe in the science behind them:

Check out THE GIANT DOG FOOD PROJECT to compare brands and values.

Interested in digging into why some foods made our list and some foods (including popular ones) did not? Here are a few articles to deep-dive into!

Puppy vs. Adult food for Great Dane Puppies

DCM: Dietary Heart Disease Update 2022

How to Choose the Best Dry Food for Great Danes

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How to Potty Train a Great Dane Puppy

Ethical Great Dane breeders will have already started the process of potty training your puppy. The good news is that if you chose an exceptional breeder, this process should be a breeze!

For puppies that weren’t given a head-start, expect to put a little more time in. Your patience, however, will pay off.

To potty train a Great Dane puppy, follow these steps:

  • Keep your puppy near you and supervised at ALL times
  • Go outside often, especially after naps, meals, training sessions, and play
  • Don’t expect your puppy to hold their bladder for more than 2 hours at first, even overnight
  • When your puppy does their business outdoors, immediately praise AND offer treats
  • If your puppy has an accident indoors, ignore it. Clean it up with Rocco & Roxie Urine Destroyer (my personal favorite, it smells amazing and works like a dream)

Great Dane puppies grow up incredible fast! While potty training your puppy may seem like a chore, it will be a distant memory before you know it.


How to Crate Train a Great Dane Puppy

Hopefully you’ve chosen to crate train your Great Dane puppy! Crates are not cruel; they are a safe space for your puppy and may become their favorite place in the house!

(Need help choosing a crate? We’ve compiled a list of the BEST crates for Great Dane Puppies HERE).

To crate train your Great Dane puppy, follow this list:

  • Make sure your crate is in a safe, quiet spot
  • The crate should also be a cozy space with a quality orthopedic mattress
  • Feed all meals in the crate
  • Use a West Paw Toppl Toy before naps; stuff it with soaked kibble (freezing this can make an extra challenge) or balanced canned food (in moderation at first)
  • Encourage positive, stress-free interactions with the crate; not crying and panic
  • Play the “Catch & Release” game below


Toss a treat into the crate and say “CRATE!”

Then toss a treat outside of the crate and say “FREE!”.

With repetition, your puppy will quickly bounce into and out of the crate on command.

Gradually add time between the two commands (increasing the time that your puppy is inside of the crate before being released) and begin closing the door, even if only for a moment at first.

Play this game several times each day until you can say “CRATE” from several feet away (and your puppy runs in with enthusiasm) and until your puppy will not exit the crate until you say “FREE”.

We recommend minimizing excessive crate use in exceptionally young puppies; focus first on positive crate training and supervision (even if this means hiring a pet sitter to help out for the first month or two).

An x-pen can be a great alternative for super young puppies!


How to Socialize a Great Dane Puppy

Socialization, next to proper nutrition, is one of the most important things you can do to raise a healthy, confident, friendly puppy.

Many people believe that socialization means going to the pet store or the dog park and flooding a puppy with people and other dogs (who may be rude, pushy, or scary).
This is actually a huge mistake!

Socialization actually means: Positive exposure to a variety of interesting, novel, and everyday things”.

This could mean exposure (good experiences) to:

  • Other dogs walking by (and ignoring them)
  • Children playing from a distance
  • A variety of people
  • Loud sounds such as fireworks, doorbells, hammers, and knocking
  • Wood chips, puddles, sand, gravel, grass, sidewalks, bridges
  • Things that wobble, bounce, or roll
  • Things that are noisy such as vacuums, cars, lawnmowers, and large fans
  • Being handled and touched all over: teeth, paws, ears, torso, tail
  • Being brushed, groomed, and manicured
  • The veterinarians office (including the scale and exam room)
  • Pet friendly stores (and learning to ignore things in them)

If you want to raise a stable puppy, start by choosing a breeder who is known for creating stable, friendly, confident puppies. Socialization is the icing on top!

Need more socialization ideas? Check out our popular Great Dane puppy socialization guide.

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New Great Dane Puppy 101

Last, but not least, here is our list of Great Dane 101 tips!

  • Don’t stop at puppy classes! Continue working on obedience until your Great Dane has ideally obtained at minimum their Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title. Use lots of positive reinforcement.
  • Learn about bloat, one of the top killers of Great Danes (read here for more information)
  • Learn about DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy), a common genetic heart disease in Great Danes that may also be caused, or worsened, by bad nutrition
  • Trim nails weekly and brush teeth daily
  • Avoid training tools such as Gentle Leaders, Halti Head Collars, and “No-Pull” or “Front Clip” style harnesses that work by restricting movement and applying aversive (and even damaging or dangerous) pressure to the shoulders, chest, or head.
  • Consider E-Collar training your Great Dane; our modern method uses less pressure than a leash and will allow complete freedom of movement (Get our E-Collar training guide HERE)

At Hello Danes we support and believe in: gastropexy, balanced dog training, ethical breeding practices, reputable Great Dane rescues, and the concept that Great Danes should be confident, friendly, and built for longevity.

Need more? Join our popular Great Dane group on Facebook (Hello Danes Group) where we share modern, science-backed nutrition and training advice.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

2 Responses

  1. Hi, so glad I found your site! Rescued a 7mo old Daniff from over breeding situation. Knows nothing! Afraid of everything! I’m starting to work with her like a 8wk puppy.

    Very sweet dog and if I ever get to purchase one in the future, I’ll definitely look through your breeder list.
    Denise, Rocklin CA

    1. Thank you for getting that dog out of what sounds like a terrible breeding situation. She’s young and you’re definitely on the right track. Keep us posted, and feel free to reach out if you have questions! 🙂

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