I love the above graphic because I feel like the more information you know about your dog, the better. I think I am going to specifically be talking about puppies when I refer to the above graphic because I feel that a lot of puppy parents are trying to learn as much as they can about their new puppy. Let me also add, I am only familiar with Great Dane puppies. I have no real experience with other breeds. So this blog is going to be about Great Dane Puppies (the best subject in the whole world!).
Along with that will come some adjustment when they come home to you. So here, they likely came from a puppy pile to being essentially alone, except for you. I know that sounds awful but it is ok. They will adjust and there are things you can do to assist in this adjustment period. You can ask your breeder to “scent” a blanket with Mom or brothers and sisters. I recommend providing the breeder with a 2-Gallon Ziploc so that the scent does not get diluted. Make sure that you are kenneling your puppy. Remember, they were probably in a kennel-like situation (their whelping [birthing] area). Add in warm cozy blankets, the scented blanket, cover the kennel with a dark colored sheet. You can try covering just the back, leaving the front open, however, if they are still very upset, try covering the whole thing. Sometimes that is all it takes for them to feel better. Not always! Let me also highly recommend either a white noise machine for ALL humans in the house. You can get a white noise machine from Homedics, a white noise app (there are free ones but unless you have speakers, it may be too soft to trigger your brain to focus on the constant sound of the white noise), or bring up YouTube and look up 12 hour, dark screen, rain, white noise, or waterfall.
If you have a pup not interested in you, get them to a Vet first and foremost. There is a good chance they came from a bad place. There may have been some early mental trauma done. Do not worry though, time, patience and love will bring your pup around. Definitely consult a dog behaviorist to help you. Early trauma can rear its ugly head down the line as the pup ages. So you just want to stay on top of it, especially with a 150 lb. dog.
This photo does depict anxiety but with Great Danes, this is one of their normal stances. A good amount of Great Danes, that were brought up correctly, are naturally submissive/happy. I know submissive does not mean happy but the ears down, tail tucked, for a Great Dane *can* mean both, submissive and “ohhh I am so happy to see you”. It conveys “I am not going to kill you” and not so much of, “I am scare or anxious”. Please do not misunderstand though, this stance can absolutely mean being anxious but I have been witness to a lot of Danes where this stance conveys love and happiness.
I love this one. I have seen so many Great Danes laying like this, with eyes up and usually it is “I am too lazy to pick my head up”. Most of the time, you will see this and their tail is wagging at the same time.
And the other scenario I have seen this, “I am in big trouble”. They will lay like this, maybe their tail is wagging out of nervousness or perhaps their tail is not wagging at all because “oh man, Iz did a bad, bad thing”. Either way, in the above photo, with a Great Dane, it could be “needs space” because they don’t want to be in trouble. LOL!
I see three Dane-specific things when they are doing something that they are not supposed to or that you are telling them no.
Shaking, yawning, and stretching. It could be one of those, two, or all the trifecta.
I see it specifically when there is food nearby. They “stretch and sniff”. I do not reprimand them for any of these behaviors. I think it is hilarious. The stretch and sniff allows them to get as close as they are ever going to come to that delicious goodness. So let them have the stretch and sniff.
The shaking is “shake it off”….
‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
The Yawn is the same as above. “Oh, nothing to see here”. It releases the tension for them. When I tell Rufus “no” I will see up to 5 yawns, depending on how long I am staring at him. Remember, staring is a sign of aggression so don’t do it too much or for extended periods of time unless they have done something that requires you to establish your Alpha-status back again. Let me also point out, if the behavior was so egregious that you need to hit home that you are the Alpha, put the dog on his or her side, and lay over them. Don’t crush them obviously. If they fight it, you need to stay there. Letting them up diminishes your status. Please only do this if your dog is NOT aggressive and you have a well-established relationship with your dog as the Alpha. Remember, I am not a Vet or a behaviorist!
Finger Pointing can also be a sign of aggression to Great Danes. So use it, but not for extended periods of time.
I have to refer back up to the anxious paragraph here. This is a normal stance for Great Danes. They are *generally submissive. Putting their ears down can mean a lot of things. “Hi”, “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “oops”, but ears down is the norm for a Great Dane. I always notice when they are happy to see you, their ears go down, they drop their head and trot to you. It’s a “golly gee, I love you” face.
Hello, I Love You
I know a lot of you looked at this picture and giggled. We try to control our Danes jumping. We train them so they either they never do it or only when invited. Do I need to explain why? HAHA!
The downward dog stance, I see only in play with Danes. I imagine it is not that comfortable for them otherwise.
The normal “hello, I love you” from a Dane, usually, ears down, head down, leaning, nose on your hand for a pet, tail wags, or happy tail blood splatter, sometimes snorting and I know there are a few barkers out there. Now, I know I did not cover everything. Do not crucify me! Danes are the same in many ways and then they each have their own little qwirks too. So, I understand my list of “hello I love you” behaviors is not exhaustive.
Most Danes do not need an actual position for this. I consider most Danes friendly. That does not mean you should walk up without permission and just pet a Dane (or any dog) without permission. But, what I have witnessed from Danes that are not friendly; barking, growling, jumping, hairs up, etc. That is not to say that quiet Danes are always friendly, they can be aggressive too. The point is, never assume anything but overall, my personal experience has been that aggressive Danes are outwardly aggressive and sweet Danes are usually quiet and happy. Please, again, do not crucify me! I know the opposite can absolutely be true and so my advice is never assume anything, ever. Always ask for permission before getting too close to a Dane, and this is especially important to teach kids. Never, ever, assume an animal will never bite. They are animals and we can’t always predict everything all the time. Petting any animal has its risks. Whether that is a Great Dane, a cat, an armadillo, or an alligator.
* Great Danes are dogs, aka animals. All animals have the potential to be aggressive, even if you have a well-trained animal and a good relationship.