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Your Great Dane is Bored: Here’s 11 Fun Ways to Entertain Them.

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Your Great Dane is bored. It’s true. Many Great Danes are bored, and frustrated pet parents see the symptoms as a sign of disobedience or dominant behavior.

This is important. Most people imagine their Great Dane should be a couch potato, content to lounge all day. They kind of are. They do like to lounge! Most will happily park themselves on a couch given the opportunity. They don’t need the same kind of intense working and exercise that a herding dog or terrier might need.  But they are still dogs, and I think we all tend to forget that. 


Great Dane Signs of Boredom

Imagine a life inside a home. You cannot see friends, watch TV, read a book, work on a hobby or go for a walk. This is the life most pet dogs are living.

A few toys scattered about and a quick 15 minute walk really isn’t fair, nor is it enough. 

Boredom is something that plagues many pet dogs, not just Great Danes. All of us get stuck in a routine and forget that our dogs are living their lives alongside us, and have different needs than us, too.

Do any of these common ‘complaints’ accurately describe your dog? 

  1. Destructive (Bedding, couches, walls, etc.)
  2. Noisy (Barking & whining)
  3. Digs Holes & Pulls up Landscaping
  4. Escapes (Jumps fences, breaks out of crate)
  5. ‘Stubborn’ (Doesn’t listen, won’t come when called)
  6. ‘Defiant’ (Ignores commands, doesn’t respond to corrections)
  7. ‘Dominant’ (Makes the rules)
  8. Rude (Jumps, steals, humps, etc.)

Boredom, frustration, confusion and anxiety are key factors with dogs that are destructive, out of control and difficult to live with. Not ‘Dominance’ or being ‘defiant’ or ‘stubborn’. 

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Dog Behavior & Boredom Go Hand-in-Hand

SO many difficult behavior problems are minimized or even eliminated when you solve issues related to boredom, anxiety, and a lack of sleep. 

Stir crazy, under-stimulated, over-tired anxious dogs are really hard to live with. 

Any good dog trainer worth their salt will address most behaviors by first assessing the routine and what kind of access the dog has to appropriate mental enrichment and exercise. 

Destruction, digging, chewing, getting into the trash, barking and hopping the fence are all signs that a dog literally doesn’t have any appropriate outlet for the correct behavior. 

They are saying, in dog language that they are BORED.

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Enrichment Ideas for Great Danes

Are you ready to tackle boredom and common behavior problems?

Even just a few minutes per day can go a long ways here. If you have more time on the weekend, save that for the big stuff. During the work week, compromise where you need to and make up for it later. That’s ok to do! 

#1 – Unstructured Walks

Instead of structured walks on pavement, consider also adding unstructured walks that involve sniffing, exploration, and moving naturally on varied terrain such as grass, sand and gravel. (This can help their feet too!)

This DOES mean getting off your property; remember, your backyard is not a novel or interesting environment.

If your dog is E-Collar trained, you can visit places where being off leash is safe and legal. If not, consider a long tracking line such as this one so your Dane can move as freely as possible.

If you drive around, you may be surprised to find how many areas near you are interesting to explore!


#2 – Visit a Dog Friendly Store

If your dog is friendly and well trained, visit your local dog-friendly store and pick out a new treat or toy.

In this situation it is incredibly important that your Great Dane be a calm, gentle, and friendly ambassador of the breed. This is NOT a good activity for Danes that lunge, pull, bark, or are fearful or aggressive.

It’s also important that the stores you visit are truly dog friendly! Only service dogs (who are task trained to assist with a specific medical condition such as seizure alerts or blind navigation) are allowed in most stores. If you are unsure, call the manager to ask in advance, and always err on the side of caution.

Check out this list of dog friendly stores.

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#3 – Have a Picnic and People Watch

Sit at a park on a blanket and watch people and dogs walk by. 

Not only is this activity mentally engaging, but it socializes your Great Dane by allowing them to realize that they can be ‘in’ the chaos without being apart of it.

People watching is also a great opportunity for you to work on your obedience training with your dog! By using positive reinforcement, you can teach your dog that engaging with you is much more fun than lunging, pulling, barking, or reacting towards people, dogs, bikes, and children.

Puppy Socialization
Puppy Culture: A Way to Socialize from the Start
Puppy Socialization Guide
Puppy Training: 5 Mistakes in Training

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#4 – Clicker Training

Use clicker training and teach your Great Dane a new trick each week.

Clickers are a fantastic tool that work by communicating to your dog the exact moment they do something you like.

Many people think that clicker training means clicking at the dog with the clicker to get their attention. This is completely wrong!

Clicker training starts by teaching the dog that when they hear a click, they get a treat.

Click, treat.
Click, treat.
Click, treat.

With a little practice, you can then begin to CLICK when your dog completes a behavior such as sit, paw, down, or touch. For example:

Sit, Click, Treat.
Sit, Click, Treat.


Touch, Click, Treat.
Touch, Click, Treat.

The dog learns to ‘work for the click’ because clicks = good things! Clicker training aids in providing your dog with clarity and precision, which means they learn more, faster.

You can purchase a clicker HERE.


#5 – Take an Obedience, Sport, or Trick Class

Take a class together. Learn how to stand for the show ring (conformation class), work up to your Canine Good Citizen (obedience) title and then go a step farther into Rally Obedience.

There are MANY amazing sports and obedience classes that you can take through local training clubs that will help you build a better relationship with your dog and possibly even provide you with a fun new hobby.

Here are some ideas:

  • Basic, intermediate, and advanced obedience
  • Conformation (how to act like a show dog)
  • Rally (Obedience course)
  • Dock Diving (Dive off a dock for a toy)
  • Scent Work (Learn how to find things by scent tracking)
  • Agility (Athletic course)
  • Lure Course (Running quickly after a lure)
  • Trick Training
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#6 – Learn Scent Work with Your Great Dane

This goes hand-in-hand with taking a class, but you can also learn to do this at home with youtube videos.

Scent work is an incredible way to work your dogs mind.

Dogs have an amazing sense of smell and within a few training sessions, most dogs are able to find ‘hides’ (scent) that are just out of sight.

It only takes weeks from that point to teach them to find scent that is well hidden! If you enjoy the process and your dog is good at it, you can even earn ribbons and titles together.

Some handlers are paid very well for dogs that can scent track things such as bed bugs or drugs, and many are even used in search and rescue efforts.


#7 – Fitpaws & Body Confidence Training

Purchase some FITPAWS or other dog fitness gear and learn how to use them to teach your Great Dane better balance, coordination and body awareness.

These are fun and can be used in your living room or backyard. When used under the supervision of a canine rehabilitation specialist, they can also be incredibly helpful for building core strength as well as building strength in the toes and ankles.

Because standing on the FITPAWS is basically a dog trick, using lots of positive reinforcement is key. This will wear out your dogs mind and body!

If you don’t have FitPaws, watch Youtube videos online for dog coordination exercises.

You can buy FITPAWS here.


#8 – Use a Puzzle Feeder

Have your Great Dane eat meals out of a puzzle feeder.

This will slow down their eating, reduce their risk of bloat, provide them with better digestion, and wear their brains out, too!

Puzzle feeders come in so many shapes and sizes. Experiment with what works well for your pet.

If you don’t want to spend money on bowls to clean and wash, you can roll your dog’s kibble up into a towel! They have to forage to get it out and will love ‘working’ for their dinner.

#9 – Stuff Kong or Topl Toys

Stuff rubber KONG or West Paw Topl toys, freeze, and let your dog figure it out!

Here are some popular dog Kong or Topl stuffing ideas:

  • Kibble (hydrate with bone broth)
  • Peanut butter (take it easy with this one)
  • Pumpkin
  • Plain yogurt
  • Canned dog food

Make sure that you only replace 5% of the normal diet with treats, toppers, and stuffing. Your dog does NOT need a Kong filled to the brim with peanut butter, in other words! Rehydrated kibble is always a good choice, as it’s part of the normal diet and gives you a base upon which you can be creative.

For example, smear peanut butter inside before stuffing it with the canned food or rehydrated kibble, then add a treat for the dog to find in the middle!

Freezing the Kong or Topl before serving will make it last longer, and can be a great activity for dogs that have separation anxiety.

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#10 – Play Hide & Seek with your Great Dane

There are many ways to play with dogs, and hide and seek games are perfect indoor activities for those not-so-nice weather days.

You can play hide and seek by hiding in another room or behind a curtain and then rewarding your puppy or adult Great Dane for finding you! This fun game also builds on recall (staying close and always looking where you are), so your dog will have better off-leash skills out of the home, too.

You can also hide toys or treats for your dog to find around the house, and make doing so a fun daily part of the routine. 


#11 – Introduce a Flirt Pole to Your Great Dane

For dogs aged 2+, you can introduce a flirt pole.

Flirt poles tap into natural prey drive; dogs love to chase, circle, and ‘catch’ the lure on the end.

NOTE: We never recommend using a laser pointer to play ‘lure’ games with your Great Dane, as doing so can cause nearly irreparable damage to their mental health (don’t believe us? Check out THIS article for information on why you should NEVER use a laser pointer to play with your dog).

However, a flirt pole is an incredible alternative to laser pointers. It results in the same fun behaviors and play, but unlike a laser, the dog can actually ‘catch the prey’ and is less likely to develop obsessive or compulsive behaviors.

Flirt poles can also be used as a reward as part of a positive training program.

Expecting a Miracle for Behavior Problems?

Don’t expect any miracles here, at least not straight away. 

A dog that has made a habit of chewing up beds and hopping fences is a dog who has made these things part of the routine. Adding a TON of enrichment will help, but many times this also requires thoughtful training and management. 

Get creative here! Get ahead of the curve and keep the enrichment activities coming. Work with a highly qualified trainer to change or even eliminate the behaviors that are unacceptable. 

Even just one new enrichment activity is bound to get even the most wound up dog to settle more!


If your dog is currently showing signs of boredom and anxiety, don’t stress! Jump in, change your routine and go from there. 

Have fun with your dog! 


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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. 

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