Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dane’s ears are flopped, but not cropped

Here's how Princeton likes to put his ears when it's hot. He does this all on his own! Maybe he feels a connection to his show-dog brothers with cropped ears.

Great Danes have natural floppy ears, but traditionally they have been cropped to make them stand up. Today many consider ear cropping to be cruel, and the American Kennel Club no longer requires cropped ears. Princeton’s breeder says that ear cropping requires weekly or bi-weekly re-wraps up to a year of age.

We plan to leave Princeton's ears natural. Then he can flip them and flop them whenever he likes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Puppy attacks sprinkler -- and wins!

My Great Dane puppy gets wild and “sharkey” in this video as he attacks the sprinkler -- and wins! He has a thing about lawn implements. He’s graduated from battling the trowel to ambushing the sprinkler.

Click here to see him lunging and barking at the trowel and other videos.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Perils of puppy-proofing the house

Sometimes Princeton looks so sweet and innocent

We’re struggling with how to manage our Great Dane puppy in the house. We tried to puppy-proof before Princeton arrived, but we had a lack of imagination. He gets into EVERYTHING whenever he is awake. For example:

We’ve had to fold our floor-length curtains over the curtain rod -- after he ripped a chunk out of them. This tactic includes the shower curtains.

Shoes must ALWAYS be kept up high or in a closet.

The same goes for throw pillows from the couch. These are a favorite target.

All books, coasters, etc. had to be removed from the coffee table. In fact, we had to move the coffee table because the puppy was chewing on that, too.

NEVER allow a table cloth to hang off the table, or a sheet to hang off the bed.

NEVER hang laundry on the clothes line, unless you want to wash it again.

NEVER leave the TV remote control on a chair or table, or you’ll end up chasing the dog instead of changing the channels.

Charge your cell phone at your own risk. Best to do it behind closed doors.

Putting a roll of toilet paper in the usual place is asking for trouble. Safer to put it way, way up high on a towel rack.

Electric cords? I was worried about that, but that’s one item that doesn’t interest our puppy, thank goodness.

Even the carpet isn’t safe! But what can we do?! I put a cookie sheet over the places where he has gnawed holes in the carpet. But mostly we say “no” and put him into a carpet-free zone until he settles down.

He’s getting taller every day, which gives him access to more places! Fortunately, as he grows, he’s also getting too big to get under the bed, under the gate, or into other small spaces where we will soon be able to hide our shoes, books, remote controls, cell phones, and other puppy magnets.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Is my pup a celebrity lookalike?

Is it just me, or does my puppy Princeton look a lot like Joel Grey in Cabaret?

My Great Dane puppy Princeton has a clown-white face with black spots that give him natural eyeliner and black lipstick like Grey’s character, the mischievous Master of Ceremonies at a cabaret in pre-war Germany. But I think it’s that devilish gleam in the eye that really makes them look alike. The resemblance is strongest when Princeton is about to bite.

BTW, Cabaret is one of my favorite movies and Joel Grey is one of my favorite characters in it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Top 10 ways to stop puppy biting

Princeton gets a mischievous, sharkey look in his eyes right before he bites

Our biggest challenge with our Great Dane pup Princeton is that he lunges and bites when he wants to play.

He just wants to play and is too young to know better, but it HURTS! He’s also ripping holes in our pants and sleeves with his sharp little puppy teeth. And he’s getting bigger every day! Trying to escape his jaws or block him just seems like a game to him.

Here are some tactics that we’ve tried and the results:

1. Distract him with a toy. (Doesn’t work. A human target is much more interesting.)

2. Shake a jar full of coins to distract him. (Doesn’t work. This gets him more excited and makes him bark at me between bites.)

3.Gently hold his little mouth shut and say “No bite.” (Works sometimes. But this also resulted in me getting the worst bite on my wrist. His “little” mouth is already as big as the mouths of many full-grown dogs.)

4. Carry a cane to block (not hit) him and assert your authority. (Surprisingly effective. He’s more respectful as soon as I pick up the cane. But he still thinks it’s a fun game when I try to block him.)

5. Ignore him. (Doesn’t work. Ouch! He just keeps biting my skin or tearing my clothes.)

6. Remain calm. (Ha! Stay calm while a shark draws blood biting and circling you? Easier said than done!)

7. Yelp like a puppy to let him know that it hurts. (Satisfying to me, but doesn’t stop him at all.)

8. Spray mint mouthwash into his mouth when he opens it to bite. I carried a pocket-size mouthwash spray with me at all times for weeks. (This worked, but he gradually got used to the flavor.)

9. Nip it in the bud as soon as he starts to act up by removing sources of excitement, such as food or the cat. (Works sometimes.)

10. As soon as he starts biting, give him a “time-out” by putting him in his crate or other isolated space. (This really works!!! When I tried this, Princeton spent most of the first day alone in time-out, but the next day he started biting us a lot less!)

What really worked:  Watch “The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” to learn how to be a calm, assertive pack leader. This turned out to be the key to solving our dog's mouthiness!

The new book “Chewing, Tugging, Nipping and Biting: Detailed Step-by-Step Training for Puppies” and Dogs” by Faye Dunningham looks helpful too.

Another idea: Poke your finger in his cheek so he bites his own mouth and he knows how it feels. (Haven’t tried this yet. He already has sores that won’t heal from biting his own lips.)

Update on May 17, 2009 --
Princeton is one year old now, and several people have asked me if he ever stopped biting. Yes, it’s about 95 percent gone. He still occasionally gets mouthy when he’s excited, but even then he doesn’t bite down hard. It never hurts, but it can scare foolish strangers who sometimes TRY to get him excited at the dog park.

We have a new technique for disciplining him when he gets mouthy, and it seems to be working well. We stand our ground and quietly face him with both hands open, sending him “calm, assertive energy” (based on the ideas of the “Dog Whisperer”).

The most important thing is not giving up before he surrenders. Just keep standing there until the dog lies down and looks away in surrender. It’s really about mental power, not physical strength. At first it took 10 minutes as Princeton barked in protest and lunged to mouth our arms. Now he gives up much more quickly -- although he’s still testing us. It’s really surprising how well this works. The best part is that I don’t feel stressed out, injured or exhausted by the process. In fact, we all end up feeling better and calmer.

I must have seen the Dog Whisperer do this technique on TV more than 100 times before I understood it and got it to work. I’m not sure how well this would have worked on Princeton when he still had his baby teeth -- because it was impossible for me to remain calm when those needle-sharp teeth sank into my flesh. But it works great now.

This has been my most popular post ever, and I still get emails and comments about it. For all you new puppy owners out there, don't give up. Even the pups who are most like sharks will someday grow up, learn to stop biting and become love bugs.

Update in Dec 2016: Princeton doesn't get mouthy with people anymore, but he did chew up another dog bed! Now that he is 8 years old, he is getting stiff and needs a firmer bed. We just bought him the Big Barker 7" Pillow Top Orthopedic Dog Bed for Large and Extra Large Breed Dogs (Sleek Edition).

I wish I bought it for him when he was younger because the foam has a 10-year guarantee. They even have a bigger "giant size" Big Barker Orthopedic Dog Bed -- with a headrest.

Princeton opens wide to bite

Check out Princeton's sharp little baby teeth in profile

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sharkey Dane pup bites his own lips

Princeton inherited his lips from his grandpa Xander Moloseum, (courtesy of Great Plans Danes and Shabrea Great Danes)

Our puppy Princeton has gotten sores from biting his classic Dane lips. Great Danes have handsome overhanging upper lips that hang down to make their muzzle look square.

Princeton’s grandsire, the Polish champion Xander Moloseum, has truly amazing lips as you can see in his photo. It looks like our puppy has inherited these impressive lips.

Princeton had cuts on both sides of his upper lips when he came to us. At first we thought his littermates bit him, but at his first check-up, the vet figured out that Princeton bites his own lips! We're treating the sores with ointments and trying to keep them clean, but they still haven't healed. Even if he isn't biting at his lip, it gets irritated when he chews things, which is whenever he is awake.

The vet says that this problem solves itself when the adult teeth come in because they're not so sharp -- or he said we might want to pull his puppy teeth! (Seems too drastic -- we don't want to!)

The breeder and her circle of expert were all dumbfounded. They figured it must be Princeton’s Euro lips. And I couldn’t find any info on the Internet about this problem -- zero! -- so it must be rare. The breeder’s vet said tooth removal would be an absolute last resort, and it will all change as he gets older, outgrows the teething stage, and his lips grow.

Princeton’s breeder added, “He must be a aggressive chewer when he chews.”

Ha! We laughed at that comment. That’s an understatement! Trying to get him to stop chewing is like trying to get him to stop breathing. He loves to bite so much that we started calling him Sharkey.

Request to readers: Let me know if you have any good ideas about how to handle the lip issue!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Puppy learns to squeak his toy

At 9 weeks old, my Great Dane puppy Princeton learned how to bite down on his toys and make them squeak. Now he can't stop squeaking them!

Watch him squeak his green lizard.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dog toys -- and owners -- get frazzled

Princeton loves all of his many toys

My Great Dane puppy Princeton has many toys that came with him from the breeder, and he loves them all. I have to carry one around with me at all times to stuff in his mouth when he tries to bite me or chew on something he’s not supposed to. I try to keep at least one toy in every room, just in case.

Trying to keep the stuffed-animal toys nice, clean and organized is hopeless. I read advice that says to rotate the puppy’s toys so he doesn’t get bored. But these toys rotate themselves! They’re always disappearing, and then I find them a few days later hiding under some furniture.

All the dog toys quickly get frayed, dragged through the dirt outside, and/or peed on. I am reminded of the class children’s story The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It has wisdom about how a toy becomes Real when it has been loved to the point of being worn out. A favorite quote, spoken by a wise old toy to the Velveteen Rabbit:

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." Click here for more of the story.

Princeton is definitely making his toys Real. I also feel frazzled as I chase him around the house in clothes that are muddy from playing in the yard with him, with little rips from where he’s bitten my sleeves and pant legs. My pants bulge because my pockets are full of dog treats and toys. I think that Princeton is making me Real, too.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Princeton relaxes with our kitty

The biggest surprise is that our new Great Dane pup Princeton and our cat are already getting along well! They just relax together about 6 feet apart. I thought that it would take a month to get to this point -- based on past experience with adult dogs. Princeton doesn't even seem very interested in the cat. Our cat is happy to have a friendly dog around again.

The cat seems very contented. She has a kind, motherly expression on her face all the time, as if she keeps marveling, “Why, he’s just a baby!” (That’s what I myself keep thinking, too.) She seems very happy to have another four-legged to share our home again.

The cat waits until he has played for a while and is tired. Then she walks slowly where he can see her. But she’s had to speed up, because he doesn’t notice her at all when she walks super slow. Then he starts to follow her. Then she jumps on a couch or chair -- higher than Princeton, but not too high. Then she turns around and stares at him. The first time she did it (last night) he instantly collapsed to the floor in utter submission to that stare.

They did it a few more times today, with the cat allowing him to sit up. He looks intently at her in fascination, then looks away in submission, then she looks away and lets him look at her, then he falls asleep.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

This Dane pup will play with ANYTHING!

Princeton was so cute -- barking at a trowel on our patio and pouncing on it as if it was alive! I managed to catch it on video.

Then I caught him attacking the trowel again about a week later on the video below. He’s already gotten bigger -- now he can carry the trowel in his mouth for a few second. Don't miss his fearsome growl. When he was still with his breeder, she warned us, “Whenever we hear a particularly vicious sound -- it’s Princeton!”

You can visit Princeton’s YouTube channel to see more videos of him.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How Princeton got his spots

Princeton and his Harlequin and Merle littermates (courtesy of Shabrea Great Danes)

I wondered how my Great Dane puppy Princeton got his beautiful markings, so I did some research on the genetics of breeding Harlequin Great Danes.

Both of Princeton’s parents are Harlequin (white with black patches), but Princeton and two of this littermates are Merle (grey with black patches). Princeton is also Mantle because he has a white face, neck, chest, belly, legs and tail tip.

Princeton’s breeder said she did not intend for his parents to mate because they are both lightly marked Harlequins, so some of their puppies were likely to be deaf. But love found a way and Lilly and Retro got together anyway. Fortunately all of their puppies were born hearing. In a litter of nine, there were six Harlequins and three Merles. (Seven boys and two girls.)

I was curious about why a breeding of two Harlequins created some Merle puppies, mine included. I discovered that Harlequins come from a combination of two different genes, Merle (spotting) and Harl (removing the grey background). Therefore Merles are a necessary part of Harlequin breeding.

Merles are considered “mismarks” and “pet-quality.” The American Kennel Club does not allow Merles to show or breed in an effort to prevent genetic defects.

Our previous dog was a Harlequin who was adored by strangers. I thought that maybe our new Merle might not get as much adoration from the public because of his “mismark” coloring. Boy, was I wrong! People are fascinated by Princeton’s markings, and he gets tons of compliments on his striking mix of grey, black and white.

For those who are interested in all the complexities of Harlequin Great Dane genetics and coat color, here are two excellent articles:

The Harlequin Family of Dogs: Harls, Merles, Blacks, Whites and More

Inheritance of Great Dane Coat Color by Jane Chopson

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

This Dane has great genes

Lilly when she was pregnant with Princeton (courtesy of Shabrea Great Danes)

Our pup Princeton comes has a champion Great Dane pedigree, including one-quarter European lines on his mother’s side. Many of his ancestors are champions.

The breeder is actually looking for a new home for his father, Retro, while she keeps two of Princeton’s Harlequin brothers for the show ring. Click here for more info on Retro, or just enjoy his handsome photo below.

I’m impressed by the picture pedigrees that are online now for dogs. Click here to view a picture pedigree with part of Princeton’s lineage. (Princeton’s mother, Lilly, has the same parents as Bubba on this picture pedigree from Great Plains Danes.)

Princeton’s dad Retro (courtesy of Shabrea Great Danes)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Watch out, world, here I come!

Great Dane Princeton at birth (courtesy of Shabrea Great Danes)

Our Great Dane puppy Princeton has been amazing from the moment he was born. Our breeder, Shabrea Great Danes, gave permission to post the photos they took of him, including this picture of our puppy as a newborn. He weighed 1 pound 6 ounces.

We picked Princeton out of the litter by asking the breeder to choose the boy who was most calm, gentle, friendly and submissive. But I must admit that I was won over by the spirit and pizzazz displayed in this photo of him as a newborn. I was also charmed by the sweet picture (below) of Princeton at two weeks old.

We had tried to imagine what an 8-week-old puppy was like, but he’s more of a baby than we expected. The breeder said he had never stepped on the ground outside in his life. She said not to take him for walks until he had more vaccinations. We thought this would be hard. But after meeting him, he’s not ready for walks outside our yard. He gets tired and overwhelmed just by walking around the yard.

Princeton at two weeks (courtesy of Shabrea Great Danes)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

First night with a Great Dane pup

Princeton likes to be a clown
We had braced ourselves for our new Great Dane puppy Princeton to cry all night long on his first night. After all, he’s just eight weeks old and away from his mom and littermates for the first time.

We were armed with a cloth with the scent of his littermates, a hot water bottle and a ticking watch. But he hardly cried at all! Maybe for one minute after I put him in his crate. Then he slept through until sunrise. I think it helped that the crate was right next to the bed (my side).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

We got a Great Dane puppy!

Big, happy news: We got a Great Dane puppy!

His name is Princeton. He’s 8 weeks old and cuter than cute.

Princeton is an AKC-registered purebred Great Dane with many champions in his pedigree, including his grandfather, a big European champion from Poland.

His coloring is known as “merle mantle.”

We got him from a breeder who lives a couple of hours away. Today she brought some puppies to ship out of LAX airport, and we met her there and got Princeton.

He's very sweet and seems to be getting along with the kitty already, but he's afraid of the two Chihuahuas next door -- they bark every time we go out.

It’s amazing to spend time with a being who is so young… so small and everything is new to them. Our little prince.

Uh-oh, he woke up! Gotta go make sure he doesn't chew on something dangerous and take him out for a potty break.