Raising children with Great Danes puppies.
By nature Great Danes are friendly, but they are animals and there should be grounds rules when raising children and puppies together. The children need to be at the top of the hierarchy or else the Danes will boss them around. If it is done right it can be a beautiful experience.
Over the years our household has had many children and Danes Coexisting in harmony. I have two young children, 3 and 7, and sometimes I feel that they are part of my Dane pack. I also have two sibling puppies, Pilot and Tula, 4 months old. They chew, nip, wrestle, are constantly into something, and in this mix are my children, who also do the same things.
There are so many tips and rules to raising children with dogs, I could talk about it for hours, these are just a few of my top suggestions that I personally follow and have worked for us.
- EVERYONE in the house should use the same language. Sit down as a family and agree on a word for every command and stick to it! If everyone uses different words for the same command the dog gets confused, it takes the dog longer to learn and it also creates an issue with who the dog chooses to listen to. When children use the same words it makes for a quicker response from the dogs. Children love to feel accomplished by seeing the Danes follow their commands and it makes the children and dog bond faster.
- I make a daily effort to incorporate the children into the feeding regiment, with adult supervision. This confirms that they are the hand that feeds them. My dogs are very food motivated so this allows the children to own that position of being in charge of the food. It’s cute when they say “crate time” and the dogs will run and get in the crate and wait for the kids to feed them. However, at the beginning it is important to have adult supervision at all times and of course if there’s any food aggression issues DO NOT include young children (that’s a whole other blog).
- Allowing the children, depending on the age, to walk the dog on a lead gives the child a sense of control and ownership. However, not all puppies are gentle enough to allow a child to walk them on the lead without the constant pulling. With a lot of training and some lead help from an adult this can be achieved, followed by a glass of wine for the adult!
- Play time; it is important that all play between children and puppies/dogs be supervised. Children, depending on their age, can be too rough and puppies will get extremely excited. Play between children and their dogs is important, a special bond is created through constructive play. Training can be incorporated into this play as well. It is extremely important that there is always adult supervision so nobody gets hurt. A Great Dane puppy gets big quickly, sometimes there’s up to 5 pounds of weight gain in one week! They are clumsy and do not understand how big they are. It’s very rare that kid and puppy play occurs that a child does not come out of the situation crying, because the puppy is holding them down and licking them, sitting on them, or chewing on them. So being there to stop the puppies and kids from crossing the line of light play mode into the full blown wrestling mode is important. I try to limit the horse play in the house and allow it to happen outside. This way when the puppies are inside we have a more relaxed atmosphere. More kisses and cuddles less barking and toy fetching. Let me tell you between my kids toys and all these dog toys sometimes the dogs can’t tell whose is whose. Having a basket specifically for puppy toys helps.
- Raising children with puppies can be an up hill battle when it comes to toys. Keeping plenty of dog toys available at all times reduces the amount of children’s toys that will end up in the mouth of your pup. Another thing that I like to do is update their toys. Dogs, just like children, get bored of the same toys after a while. I even give my dogs butternut squash or sweet potatoes, this keeps them occupied while teething. A bit of a mess, but I am ok with that, especially outside. Whenever I catch my pups chewing on one of the kids toys I take it away, say “no” and automatically give them one of their toys. This reinforces the idea that there are some items they are not allowed to have. When I catch my kids chewing on dog toys I do the same thing to the kids!
- Crate training. I understand that not everyone is OK with the crate. A dog or puppy should not technically be in a crate for more than 3 to 4 hours at a time. It is unfair to the animal, they get bored and it can cause other health issues. However, for the puppies safety and the sanity of the household, it is nice to have a spot where your puppy can relax and get away from the children. It allows breaks, it also keeps you from worrying that the pups are getting into something that could possibly cause them death when you aren’t home. Before these dogs were Great Danes, their ancestors were wolves and they dug themselves dens. I feel that a crate is very much equivalent to a den. After the crate training process has been successful and served its purpose, meaning the puppy is no longer chewing on random things like children’s toys and licking electrical outlets, and the puppy can be trusted home alone for longer periods of time the crate can stay. You can just leave the door open and it is a place where your Dane will go when it wants to be by itself, depending upon the age of your kids, it might be frequent.
I have heard of many horror stories of unattended puppies suffering accidental death. In my personal opinion crates could have prevented most of the puppy deaths. Crates save puppies and young Danes lives. It also saves rugs, furniture, clothes, drywall, etc.
Throughout, this blog I have wrote “with adult supervision” because when it comes down to it these are animals and animal instinct takes over, they can be rough and because of their size you just need to pay attention to when tough housing becomes too rough.
This breed is amazing, they are the gentle giants of the working dog breed. I have found my Danes to be very tolerant of children. I often have to remind my children when they’re playing with my older Danes, that not all dogs will let you do whatever you want to them. Our dogs are amazing, but not every dog is tolerant of children. The pros to raising my kids with Danes is they have had good experiences, the cons are that they tend not to be afraid of other dogs. So this is something that I constantly work on with my kids. I reinforce that not all dogs are friendly and not all dogs will let you pull on the tail, play with their ears, pinch their butts or hang all over them. It is important that you teach children (and adults) to ask the dog owners permission before they approach or touch any dog.
I feel like I could give many more suggestions to raising children with Great Danes; this is my first blog, so maybe at a later date but feel free to comment any questions.