If you have just adopted a German Shepherd, Great Dane, or another huge dog, we would first like to extend our congratulations. Second, and most important, we want to give you some training tips for large dogs because if you’ve never had one, you may not realize the differences between training a small dog and a large one. Nobody wants a Greyhound jumping on them or a Mastiff dragging them through the park on a leash. All dogs need to be trained, and training is a responsibility of every dog owner, but it is so important that a large dog be well behaved purely because their great size and weight could pose more dangerous risks to the humans and dogs around them.
Start training right away, as a puppy if possible. If you get your dog as a puppy, great! Large dogs grow fast, but as puppies they will start at a more manageable size for training. Develop clear rules with your dog from the get-go and make sure you are consistent so that they know what is expected of them. As your dog grows in size, they will continue to obey the original rules set for them, and you won’t have a hundred pound dog jumping on you with paws level to your shoulders.
Teach your large dog to walk at your pace. One of the biggest things that comes with having a larger dog is the fact that their sheer size and weight makes them strong. Walking a large dog who is not very obedient could potentially be a nightmare. A dog that is lean and strong at thirty pounds could drag you along a walk, imagine a dog that is seventy pounds plus! Use treats and reinforcement to teach your dog to walk at your pace. You are the leader of the walk, and that is important for them to know. ‘Heel’ and/or ‘wait’ should be commands in your arsenal, and by starting in with these commands while your dog is young, they will know what type of behavior is expected of them during walk time. Use a non retractable leash so that they cannot run for small animals or people while training, and walk them on an empty stomach so that they will be even more responsive to your treats when teaching them how to heel (keep a treat at your side so that they walk in line with you. Small treats work best because you can give a few one after another just to make your point) or wait (have them sit and use the command wait or stay as your clean up their mess with the treat in their view. Reward after clean-up is over).
Sit, stay, and come are even more important when your dog weighs as much as a twelve year old. Small commands like sit and stay are among the first things any dog should learn. Your big dog poses a larger threat to your family and visitors simply because they are so large. A toy dog jumping at a visitor or the mail man may be cute and harmless, but a large dog doing the same could be dangerous and scary despite their potentially sweet disposition and honest intentions. A large dog that knows how to sit and stay as visitors or family members file into the front door is so important, and making sure that they know that jumping is off the table could save you a few headaches, especially if children are in the picture.
Congratulations on the adoption of your large dog. They are some of the most fun and loving breeds out there!