Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas from Princeton!

Great Dane Nativity Scene:
Princeton bows to the baby Jesus

Merry Christmas and
happy new year to all
with love
from Princeton

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Great Dane 2010 calendar on sale now

I just finished the 2010 calendar with photos of my Great Dane Princeton and his dog (and cat) friends. Order it at Zazzle.com -- or make your own.

My friends, family, dog trainers and vet all love the pet-photo calendar that I put together every year. It features some of the best photos from this blog -- and some shots of Princeton way back when he was still a little puppy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Great Dane breakthroughs

Princeton with one of his best friends, a Corgi/Border Collie mix

My Great Dane Princeton has had some breakthroughs lately. At age 1-1/2 years, he finally got the message that mouthing is wrong! He was trying to get our food, so I was trying to make him to back off by holding my hand infront of him. In the midst of the conflict, he mouthed my arm -- and then he instantly looked guilty and crouched down, before we could even say, "Calm down." This is the first time ever that he seemed sorry for any misbehavior! He's really learning.

He’s very smart -- so smart that he figured out how to open the gate to the backyard! Recently I let him out in the morning and went back to sleep as usual. Then my honey woke me up: “Princeton’s loose!” Fortunately our neighbors saw him on the street, rang the doorbell, and helped round him up. Now we have to keep the backyard gate locked with a padlock!

There they go! Princeton likes being “herded.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dane learns respect and discipline

Australian Shepherd looks up to her pal Princeton

My Great Dane Princeton is learning respect and discipline now that he’s 18 months old.

He saw his first horse when he was on a walk in a park with horse trails. Boy, was he scared to meet somebody bigger than he is! He flattened out on the ground and wouldn’t get up until the horse was almost out of sight. Then he was more obedient for several days!

Lately I’ve had to get really TOUGH with Princeton. We went through a crisis, but now I finally feel like Princeton is living in MY world most of the time, whereas before I felt like I was living in Princeton’s world.

It all started last week when my partner surprised us at the dog park and he went crazy jumping on her and mouthing her, just like he did 6 months ago. We’ve worked so HARD on training him not to do that! I felt very discouraged, like a failure.

I got advice from our trainer and the “Danes gone wild meet-up message board.” I also thought back to the tough-love training tactics of the obedience class we took, and all the episodes of the “Dog Whisperer,” which is almost like a Bible to me.

Here is one of the most helpful comments I got, from a Dane rescue place:
“There is always hope as long as you are willing to reach out, take advise and use it consistently. Be persistent and always follow thru with a command and if you need to manhandle your Dane, then do it. He needs to know who is in control and who will kick his butt when he doesn't listen.”

In the last few days I have been determined that Princeton will obey me. I started taking him on an extra walk, and I stopped avoiding potential distractions (other dogs, kids, bikes, etc.) My new method is to yank his choke chain really hard as soon as he started to get distracted. If it’s too late and he goes wild, I make him lay down and calm down. I wasn’t strong enough to do this before, but Princeton has made me stronger. I started holding a broom horizontally to block him when he rushes our front door and window, barking at people walking by. (He has bitten my arms twice when I tried to stop him.)

My partner and I are newly united in resisting all his efforts at what the trainer calls “passive dominance” -- coming to us for attention. No, all attention must be given on OUR terms, when WE initiate it. I used to shower him with affection for no reason, just because I enjoyed it. But on the trainer’s recommendation I am treating him more like a ghost. Most of the time it’s no touch, no talk, no eye contact for Princeton these days.

Withholding affection is the hardest part. (I’m surviving this by petting our cat a lot more!) I’m able to keep going because it’s really working! There is a dramatic difference in Princeton’s attitude. He is much, much more respectful, watches me a lot more, etc. Until now, every single day he got into trouble by grabbing forbidden items (shoes, pillows, soap, etc) and running around with the house with them, trying to start a game. Now he has gone for a few days without doing that at all. He did grab my partner’s shoe last night, but he dropped it immediately when she walked in the room. He hardly even protests anymore when I clip his nails.

I used to have a special name for the hour before, during and after dinner: Bad boy time. That’s when Princeton would go wild. Now he lays patiently waiting for his food while we eat, then he settles down right away after I feed him. There is no more bad boy time!

We still have a lot of work ahead. But I do feel there’s hope.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Great Dane plays football

Princeton loves his new football

My Great Dane Princeton’s new favorite toy is a REAL football! He can actually fit it into his enormous mouth!

Princeton loves mouthing things with his big old mouth. Finally we found a toy big enough for his huge mouth, and he LOVES it.

Does anybody know where to get GIANT toys suitable for Great Danes? This football was not built to stand up against dog teeth.

Now almost 17 months old, Princeton is getting A LOT better about not mouthing the many tempting things that he’s not supposed to mouth -- especially my arms and small children. When I say “Leave it,” he usually listens. If not, I get his attention with a squeaker toy that I carry at all times when we’re out -- a great tip from our new trainer.

He’s also learned what it means to “CALM DOWN” -- although it often takes a while. I’m learning how to stay calm, too. We keep practicing.

Princeton opens wide to fit his football in his giant jaws

“Let’s play football!”

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dane pup’s weight levels off at 124 pounds

Princeton at 15 months

Our 15-month-old Great Dane weighs 124 pounds -- the same as he did three months ago. And only one pound more than 4 months ago.

I caught myself smiling a big grin when we saw the number 124 on the scale. I was happy at the thought that Princeton won’t get any bigger. He’s big enough! Hey, I even outweigh him by one pound still. Don’t worry, I’m feeding him plenty, but he doesn’t always finish his food.

Princeton is also looking more mature. I love the photo above, taken when he struck a show-dog pose all on his own at the park. He’s looking so handsome and grown-up! His long front legs are incredibly straight.

Princeton may not be getting bigger, but he IS getting stronger! He can pull a lot harder on the leash. Fortunately, he’s also growing up mentally. We’re working with a new trainer now called BarkBusters.com and it’s going the best ever for Princeton. His most important new command: “Leave it!!!” This works with his biggest behavior problem -- mouthiness. Yes, he’s STILL Mr. Mouth. The trainer predicts this will be a lifelong challenge for Princeton.

Training is going well. I am becoming Princeton’s pack leader by using my mental strength, even though he is physically stronger. I try not to think about how big he is, but instead to stay CALM and focus on his energy and actions. Of course, people don’t let me forget Princeton’s size for long. I am learning to ignore the constant stream of people telling me, “That’s a BIG dog!” everywhere we go.

Our trainer says that Princeton is “the most intuitive dog I know.” She means that he picks up the emotions of the people around him, and then mirrors them back and magnifies them. For example, if we meet a calm person who loves Great Danes, he is the best boy in the whole world. If we meet somebody who’s afraid of him, he jumps around like crazy. If somebody says something in anger, he instantly starts barking at them. Each of these emotions feeds on itself and escalates when the other person reacts to Princeton’s behavior.

Of course, all of this happens based on my mood, too. Having Princeton reflect all my own emotions is one of the hardest parts about training. I have to stay calm, calm, CALM , or else!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Our dog broke a window

Our window -- after our Dane broke it

Princeton broke a window! I tried to keep my 14-month-old Great Dane Princeton out of the living room when deliveries were expected, but the UPS guy snuck up on both of us.

Princeton rammed his snout right through the glass when the UPS delivery man put a package outside. It happened while I was standing between the window and Princeton, trying to get him to back off. But he lunged past me.

Princeton is OK now, but a cut on his face was bleeding pretty bad at first.

We got the window fixed and we’re working on “door manners” with a new dog trainer… from a place called Bark Busters. She’s the best of the many trainers that we’ve met. BarkBusters.com is an international company. They send a trainer to your house and guarantee to keep working with you for the life of the dog for one low price.

However, teaching “door manners” to my Dane is a long, frustrating process.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Great Dane gets new tooth -- at age 13 months!

Princeton is happy to be growing MORE teeth

My Great Dane Princeton is STILL teething -- and he’s more than a year old! This week I felt his gums and he literally got a new tooth!

He’s had an empty space for a “premolar” on his lower left gum for months, but I thought it meant he was born without that tooth. But no, he’s just sloooooooow to develop.

Dog references say dogs are supposed to have all their teeth by the time they’re 6 or 7 months old. No wonder Princeton still acts like a baby and chews a lot -- he really is still a baby at almost 14 months old.

OK, he’s not as young as the photo above, which was taken when he was 5 months old and his “fangs” were still coming in. But it’s a good shot of the teeth of the our boy, nicknamed “Little Sharkey” as a puppy for obvious reasons.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Update: Collars and barking at mail carrier

Princeton on a grassy path -- still wearing the old leather collar (taken before he ripped it apart!)

Many thanks for all the great comments about collars on my last post. For now my Great Dane Princeton is following Hsin-Yi and Honey’s method -- just wearing the choke chain. We transferred his ID tags to the choke chain and he wears it all the time now.

It’s working out well because the leather collar used to get in the way when I walked Princeton -- because I use two collars to walk him, a Halti and a choke chain, with a leash in each hand to steer him. As Hsin-Yi noted, it also looks nice because it doesn’t interrupt the line of his neck. And it’s certainly strong and waterproof. However, it looks like he may outgrow his 24-inch choke chain soon!

Also thanks for the comments about training Princeton to stay calm when the mail arrives. I am keeping him in another room or outside when the mail comes, and it’s making life a lot more peaceful. I know that we need to set up practice sessions with other people dropping papers through the mail slot. But that will be in the future. For now, I’ve got all I can handle just with leash training and other basics.

Update on July 12, 2009
This problem escalated and Princeton broke a window. Click here to get all the info in my new post “Our dog broke a window.”

Update in 2016:

In the end we took the advice of readers here and just used a so-called "choke chain" or "slip chain" as his permanent collar.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Urgent: Leather vs. nylon dog collar?

My Great Dane Princeton broke his leather collar today!

I was trying to train him not to attack the mail slot when the mail comes. I tied his leash to our entertainment center and told him to stay after I saw the mail carrier in the distance. Oops! Princeton couldn't control himself when the mail carrier reached our doorway. His desire to attack (protect?) was a lot stronger than his old leather collar, inherited from my previous Dane.

Does anyone have advice about the best kind of collar for a Dane? He plays in the water almost every day, so maybe that weakened the leather. Maybe nylon is more durable?

Let me know soon because we’re probably going shopping tomorrow to buy him a nice new dog collar.

Hey, maybe somebody has some ideas about how to stop him from going ballistic over the mail, too.

My big boy sure is getting strong!


Update in 2016:

In the end we took the advice of readers here and just used a so-called "choke chain" or "slip chain" as his permanent collar.

Update in Dec 2016: Princeton is still using his collar and leash, but he's slowing down and seems achy when he gets in and out of 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.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

We’re fabulous!

Princeton jumps high to reach a branch

This blog is honored to accept the “Your Blog is Fabulous!” Award from the Danes World Blog. Many thanks (and dog kisses) to Mindy Lu and her beautiful Dane Sasha.

I especially enjoy the Danes World Blog because it is written from the dog’s point of view. I have fun finding out what Sasha the Dane thinks about life. They make me laugh, too. I’ll sum it up with one of Sasha’s favorite words: “BARK!”

In accepting this award, I am passing on the honor to some of my favorite blogs:

Danes Down Under
Abbey has tons of adventures with her Danes Chelsea and Shiloh. The photos and links are incredible. Abbey was the most devoted and enthusiastic of the earliest visitors to Princeton’s blog. Thanks, Abbey!

Reflections of a Dog Mom
Allison’s Merle Dane Waldo looks and acts a lot like my Princeton. What fun to follow his life. Allison leaves lots of great comments here, too. Thanks, Allison! Her blog already has lots of awards, and it deserves another.

Isis Isis Ra Ra Ra
Michalea has a witty blog that includes photos and stories about her Danes Reese and Merlin, as well as her chickens, her travels in Egypt, and much more. Michalea also happens to be one of my oldest and best friends in real life. We lost touch for a while, then discovered that we each had Great Danes in our lives! Michalea has even met Princeton in the flesh. She and her blog are truly fabulous. Thanks, Michalea!

Simon Says Great Danes
A breeder of Harlequin and Mantle Great Danes does this fascinating blog with practical advice and lovely photos.

Super Not So Mini Cooper
Janelle’s handsome Dane Cooper is like Princeton’s twin -- a Merle Mantle who is almost exactly the same age as Princeton. I enjoy comparing notes by visiting her blog full of photos, facts and stories.

That Mutt
Lindsay’s That Mutt Blog offers many good challenges that inspire me, such as take your dog to “30 new places in 30 days.” It’s the only blog on this list that isn’t about Great Danes, but it’s too good to miss. Dogs of any breed are covered here.

Big Honey Dog Blog
The Big Honey Dog Blog is truly impressive. Great Dane Honey and her human Hsin-Yi have amazing adventures including competing together in dance competitions. They also gave our blog an award recently. More about that in a post coming soon. Thanks, Hsin-Yi!

For those receiving the awards, here are the rules:
1. Do a post naming (and linking to) the blog that gave you the award.
2. Pass on the award by naming and linking to 7 other blogs.
3. Go to these 7 other blogs, tell them that you are giving them the award, and invite them to visit your blog to pick it up.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

One year old and 123 pounds!

Princeton on his first birthday, April 24, 2009

We celebrated our Great Dane Princeton’s first birthday by taking him to the vet to be weighed today. The big result: 123 pounds!

“And not an ounce of fat on him!” our favorite vet added.

He stands 33-1/2 inches tall at the shoulder.

You can see how beautiful he looks in the photo, taken yesterday on his actual birthday when we arrived at the dog park -- right before he ran to party with his dog friends.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Princeton!

Princeton on his first birthday... “Hurry up with that camera so we can PLAY!”

We’re celebrating Princeton’s first birthday today!

He’s having a fun birthday. We’ve already played his favorite backyard game of chasing the water from the hose. Later we’ll spend a long time at the dog park. And tomorrow -- we’ll take him to get weighed. Then we’ll find out what a BIG BOY he really is.

Here are birthday photos of Princeton taken today. Woof, woof! He’s looking a bit impatient because I made him pose for photos right before we played with the hose, while he was still dry.

My Big Boy on his first birthday

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Beautiful day at the dog park

Princeton on the path to the park

It started raining on Good Friday soon after my Great Dane Princeton and I arrived at the dog park. All the other people took their dogs away, but we decided to stay in case it was just a brief rain shower.

After a couple minutes of light rain, a gorgeous big bird flew over our heads and perched on one of the trees in the park. Believe it or not, it was a Great Blue Heron! (The park is near a river and an Audubon bird sanctuary.)

While I was still marveling at the bird, the clouds broke and a lovely rainbow appeared in the sky. Wow!

It was the most magical moment I’ve ever had in the dog park.

Then the rain stopped, and new dogs came to play with us.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dog Bed Drama, Part 3

After a few quiet nights sleeping on old blankets, my Great Dane Princeton woke up in the middle of the night crying again.

I opened the door to let him out to “go potty” -- and he ran past the open door and out into the living room. He plopped right down on the top-quality dog bed that we keep there -- where we can guard it. That bed belonged to our old Dane (who died last year) and it’s made of bean hulls and organic cotton. Princeton loves that bed, but that hasn’t stopped him from chewing it. We have to scold him almost every night for gnawing on the corners, then spray the corners with bitter apple. We got a new denim cover for it, and that is helping a lot. It weighs 15 pounds and he likes to swing it around and attack it. He lost his first baby tooth while biting it. We thought that someday maybe we would be able to move it into his crate.

Well, that day came. Princeton refused to get off of that bed and growled at me when I first tried to pull him off. Finally we pushed him off and dragged the bed into his crate. He has been sleeping happily there for the last two nights. He chewed on the old sheets, but treated his bed with the respect it deserves.

Maybe we’ll all be getting better sleep now.

Click the following link for info on the organic pet beds. They really are worth the money:


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dane likes sleeping on old blankets (bed drama, part 2)

Princeton looks proud to be sleeping on real blankets and towels -- not a "doggy" bed

Thanks to all the comments on my last post, I set up a new, simpler bed for my 11-month-old Great Dane Princeton. He’s sleeping on old blankets and towels -- and he loves it.

He lifted his head high and looked proud and happy when he first lay down on the blankets and towels. I ran for the camera and took a photo (above). While he thought the supposedly tear-resistant doggy bed was one big chew toy and attacked it immediately, he had a totally different reaction to the old blankets etc. He recognized right away that it was a bed -- with the same kind of good stuff that humans sleep on. He settled right down and fell asleep.

It did take some adjustment before Princeton completely accepted the new bed, however. The first night he woke up at 3:30 a.m. whimpering, crying, then howling. I thought at first that he had diarrhea and needed to go out, as happened when he was a puppy. But no. He didn’t want to go out. I made him go out and he came back in and cried for another half hour. I think he missed his ratty old shredded bed with its green fluff and cedar chip mess. (Princeton gets very attached to routines and likes everything to stay the same.)

I kind of missed the fresh scent of cedar chips, too. The old blankets smelled kind of musty. Finally I got in the crate with him and snuggled him. He fell asleep within a few minutes -- but woke up crying again one more time before morning.

The next day I got some of his favorite smells onto one of the old blankets (swampy mud from the dog park, my old socks). He’s completely happy sleeping on the blankets and towels now.

Thanks, everybody, for telling me about this simple solution.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Help! Dane dog bed advice needed! (bed drama, part 1)

“Tear resistant” dog bed -- after 5 minutes with my Dane pup!

Tonight our 11-month-old Dane Princeton ripped apart his brand-new “Tuff n Ruff” Dura-Ruff bed. It’s advertised as “tear resistant -- withstands rough treatment.” Ha!

Within 5 minutes, Princeton had ripped a HUGE hole in it. (See photo.) Fortunately the store has agreed to refund the $65.

But what is Princeton going to sleep on now in his crate??? I send out a plea to others who have lived with Great Danes and other “determined chewers,” please tell me what kind of beds your dogs use!

I know, some of you share your own bed with your dog or give him a couch of his own. There has to be another way.

I don’t want to use a piece of carpet because I have finally succeeded in teaching him not to chew on our carpets. However, if he had his own carpet piece in his crate, I’m sure he would get back into that bad habit.

Sleeping on the hard, bare floor of the crate will give him calluses and “proud flesh” on his elbows, etc. I’d rather avoid that. It took him several months to rip apart his old bed, which was much flimsier than the new one. It seemed like it took all morning to clean up the scattered cedar chips.

Yes, I do put chew toys in the crate with Princeton. He ignores them and chews his bed. (Maybe because he knows that he’s not supposed to? Or he just likes tearing something soft? I took away all his soft toys on the advice of a dog trainer in order to teach him not to chew the carpet.

He’s definitely not ready to sleep outside the crate (still chewing on anything available -- but now he’s a good boy and stops when we say no).

For now, I guess he’ll have to sleep on a few blankets.

P.S. Thanks for all the advice about leashes and collars. Princeton’s leash training is going well. He pulls on the leash a lot less and has learned to walk politely next to another dog on leash. It seems like a miracle compared to how wild he used to be.

Update in April 2016:

We hardly ever put Princeton in the crate anymore, but when we do we remove everything to prevent him from chewing and swallowing his bed.

He has TWO beds around the house now, and he loves them both. One is a canvas dog bed with soft plush and poly fill fiber similar to the Armarkat Pet Bed. And the other is an organic dog bed filled with buckwheat hulls. These are expensive but worth it for the support and durability. This bed was used by our previous dog for many years before Princeton.

The "Big Barker" orthodpedic pet bed for giant dogs looks good too.

Update in Dec 2016: 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.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Moody Dane: Shark or sweetheart?

Princeton and Tashi (photo by Malcolm Dysart)

Here are some favorite photos of Princeton and Tashi, the Beagle mix who lives down the street. She’s like a surrogate mother to him. Tashi’s owner took these great shots of them playing rough in December. They both loved mouthy, biting games. They looked ferocious, but they never draw blood.

In the last month or two, Princeton has started maturing so that he loves to run with other dogs instead of always trying to mouth and wrestle. But it seems like “two steps forward, one step back” in dealing with my moody Dane. I read that a one-year-old Great Dane has the mental maturity of a 15-year-old human. Princeton is almost 11 months, so that makes him an early teen. He does act like one!

On March 18, Princeton had a breakthrough. I was fixing dinner -- that’s his “bad-boy time” when he always acts up, racing around the house, chewing on sofa cushions etc, or else barking if we put him outside or in a crate. Then unbelievable happened! Princeton wanted to rest! Miraculously on March 18, he saw me fixing dinner -- and just went and lay down. And it was just a regular day with no extra exercise or anything. (Maybe that was the secret, because every little change in routine upsets him.)

Then yesterday Princeton regressed and went wild when some family members came to meet him for the first time. At first Princeton was calm and loving, but he changed into a different dog when we went out into the backyard. In retrospect, I was a bad “pack leader” because I wasn’t paying close attention, expecting everything to go well and forgetting that Princeton thinks of the backyard as his play area.

Princeton jumped up on my brother and nephew (who weighs 30 pounds less than Princeton). My nephew got safely back inside, but my brother stayed to play, and Princeton really jumped on him and mouthed him -- we call it “sharking” because it feels like being attacked by a shark. Princeton hasn’t done that to us in months. Eventually the training kicked in and we got him under control, but it was a struggle.

I felt discouraged when my family decided not to join me in walking Princeton after that because it was “too risky.” A bright spot was meeting a dog-walking friend on the trail who pointed out how much Princeton’s behavior has improved overall. “Someday he’ll grow up and you’ll miss the way he’s so curious and jaunty,” he said.

Today Princeton is still acting like a baby, barking at me when I fix his food, being defiant, and chewing everything. We both need some time to recover from the family visit. I hope all this is normal “growing pains.” I guess we both need some time to recover from the family visit.

Well, here are some more photos of my sweet shark Princeton going wild with Tashi.

Princeton and Tashi (photo by Malcolm Dysart)

Princeton and Tashi (photo by Malcolm Dysart)

One of Princeton’s favorite moves is putting his giant mouth over another dog’s whole head or neck. (photo by Malcolm Dysart)

Princeton and Tashi (photo by Malcolm Dysart)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dane training tips worked!

Princeton is walking much better on the leash now that he's 10 months old

My Great Dane Princeton is walking much better on the leash. I talked with another dog trainer who gave two excellent pieces of advice that are really working.

I explained the problem is that Princeton pulls hard on the leash, and I’m not strong enough to yank his choke chain hard enough to make an impression as the last trainer told me to do. Princeton pulls the hardest when we meet one of his dog friends on a walk.

Here’s the advice that’s working:

1. The trainer said that it sounds like Princeton places the highest value on having fun with another dog. True. YOU (the owner) have to be the source of the most fun in your dog’s life! Cut back his play time with other dogs. Spend more time having fun with Princeton.

This sounds obvious, but I’m a recovering workaholic, so I often need to be reminded to have more fun. When we spend less time with other dogs, Princeton and I have more time to figure out fun games we can play together. Princeton’s new favorite game is chasing the water that sprays from the hose.

2. Use really yummy treats while walking Princeton to reward him for not pulling.

I was doubtful about this because it did NOT work when he was 2 to 5 months old. Back then, if I didn’t give him the treat right away, he bit my hand with his sharp little puppy teeth and it really hurt. As soon as he got the treat, he’d get distracted again and pull. I do think it helped to have a “tough love” training class from ages 6 to 9 months. But now, to my amazement, treats work! I can lead him along with a treat past several houses and he stays focused, gently mouthing my hand occasionally without causing pain.

Best of all, Princeton seems to like me a lot more. He follows me around more in the house and curls up next to me sometimes.

P.S. I forgot one more training tip that’s working -- when I remember to do it.

3. Don’t let your dog greet other dogs or people while walking on the leash. These distractions really break the dog’s concentration when they’re in training. The dog does better when he knows that being on the leash simply means walking and nothing else.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dane runs with BIG palm branch

My 9-month-old merle Great Dane pup Princeton got very excited when he found a BIG palm branch in the park -- and ran around with it in his mouth. See the fun on video.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dane meets film makers in park

Princeton at the lake in the park where we met the film crew

My Great Dane Princeton jumped in shock when we went on our usual walk to the park and discovered it was overrun by a film crew, complete with dune buggies racing around carrying camera equipment. I got him back on leash and we checked it out. I counted 40 people! Usually it’s absolutely empty.

I sat on a bench and Princeton was mobbed with fans from the crew. Then the director came over and asked us to move because “you’re in my shot.”

“Do you need a dog as an extra?” I asked, half in jest.

“I already have two dogs,” he answered, deadly serious. Yes, I could see the actor dogs on good behavior across the park.

The director sent us to a different bench, where another crew member came to pet Princeton.

“Are you background, or are you here to walk your dog?” he asked.

Background, ha! “I’m really here to walk my dog. We come here every day,” I explained.

Princeton kept squirming and pulling. He wanted to run free in the park, not talk Hollywood. So we headed out.

Another woman from the movie came running after us, calling, “Can I pet your dog?” We stopped so one more Hollywood type could pet and admire Princeton.

Usually I think of regular people like me envying folks in Hollywood, but as Princeton and I headed for the hills, I felt that the reverse was also true. The filmmakers long for our reality as much as we long for their fantasy. They’d love to leave the movie set and take a real walk a real dog in a real park.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Harlequin Dane wins at Westminster

Ch. Sasdania’s The Prophecy wins at Westminster Kennel Club dog show

I got so excited tonight watching the Westminster Kennel Club dog show on TV. A Harlequin won the Great Dane best of breed for the first time in about 20 years there He’s gorgeous!

His name is Ch Sasdania’s The Prophecy (call name Leopold), owned by North Park Great Danes.

Click here to see the offical video of the Great Dane judging. I love the end, when all the beautiful Danes parade around the ring with the winner in the lead.

I imagine that somewhere back in history my Princeton shares a common ancestor with this champion.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Leash-training a Dane -- advice needed

Our dog training class finally got the lesson I’ve been waiting for -- heel. I’ve struggled to prevent our Dane pup Princeton him from pulling on the leash ever since the day he arrived 6 months ago. We walk every day, but it keeps getting harder to correct him because he has grown from 15 pounds to more than 100 pounds during those months.

Today the dog trainer asked me to show how Princeton does his other commands before introducing “heel.” Princeton moved with embarrassing slowness when I asked him to sit. He was much less cooperative than usual on stay, down and come, too.

The trainer looked weary as he took the leash and eyed my giant dog. “OK, let’s start teaching him heel,” he sighed.

He demonstrated how to hold the leash and started walking with a brisk, “Princeton, heel.” To everyone’s surprise, Princeton followed at his side almost perfectly with a loose leash. Princeton looked quite proud of himself as they walked around the parking lot past lots of other dogs who were still struggling with sit and stay.

That’s when I knew that all my efforts with Princeton had paid off. I’ve been feeling extremely frustrated about leash training Princeton for months, but he was actually learning more than I realized. Today I have to give myself some praise, “Good girl!”

OK, now for a reality check. He still pulls on the leash fairly often on our walks with real-world distractions, and sometimes he pulls HARD. So….

I know there are a lot of experienced Dane owners out there who read this blog. Does anyone have any advice about the best training collars to use? Has anyone tried a prong collar (aka pinch collar and does it work? How about Cesar Millan’s Illusion collar? (I just checked Cesar's website and they don’t seem to have Dane sizes, plus it’s only for dogs over 1 year old.)

Right now I’m using a slip chain (aka choke chain) and a Halti head collar -- with one leash in each hand. I do corrections with the slip chain, and use the Halti as a back-up when he pulls hard. This has worked until now (age 9 months), but he’s gotten stronger so I have to yank harder and harder to make an impression on him. I’m not sure if I can keep up with him as he grows and grows.

Of course, one reason I chose to get a Great Dane puppy was so he would motivate me to build muscles. I’ve grown stronger right along with Princeton.


Update in 2016:

The best leash I found (after a lot of searching!) is the Signature K9 Braided Leather Leash. It has lasted for years, was comfortable in my hand from the start, and has an easy-to-use but strong clasp. I use the 6-foot 3/4-inch size.

We use this with a Halti head collar and sometimes a slip chain.

Update in Dec 2016: The same leash and collar are still working for Princeton, but now that he is 8 years old, he is getting stiff and has trouble getting up and laying down. We thought a better bed would help. 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.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dane pup LOVES beach -- great photos

Princeton loves his first day at the beach

Our Great Dane pup loved his first day at the beach. We took Princeton to a “Great Dane Meet-Up” there. It’s where Great Dane owners meet online and agree to get together at a specific time and place -- in this case, Huntington Dog Beach. There were 7 Great Danes there. Princeton was quickly nicknamed “the Baby” because he was much younger than any of the other Danes. They were all at least 3 years old, and not nearly as playful as “the Baby.”

Sizewise, Princeton fit right in. He was about the same height as the full-grown females, and an inch or two shorter than the full-grown males. Lots of people looked at his big old feet and exclaimed, “He’s going to be HUGE!” I think it was a Dane-lovers’ way of complimenting him. According to Dane growth charts, he is exactly average for a Great Dane. Princeton spent most of the time running around with younger dogs of other breeds. We took lots of photos

Princeton makes friends with a Harlequin

Princeton runs like the wind along with waves with a Labrador Retriever

Happy dog


Go, go, go!

Sea, sand, surf, and dog... an unforgettable day

Friday, January 16, 2009

Pup at peace

Here’s a video of my 8-month-old Great Dane puppy Princeton in the local park where we walk almost every day. See, sometimes he’s a calm, peaceful boy! The grass is gorgeous green now in southern California.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dog love story: The Balcony Scene

My Great Dane pup Princeton and his best friend Tashi go nuts whenever they get together. Every day when we go to visit Tashi, it’s like the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet!

These videos capture the fun. First they go crazy because they are separated with Princeton on top and Tashi below in “the pit.” Then the eager girl Tashi scrambles upstairs and outside to a joyful reunion with her dashing guy Princeton.

You can see more videos at Princeton's YouTube page.

Friday, January 9, 2009

101 pounds of fun!

My 8-month-old Great Dane pup Princeton weighs 101 pounds! The vet weighed him when we delivered her pet-photo calendar. I keep thinking of the song from “South Pacific” --
”One hundred and one
Pounds of fun
That’s my little honey bun!
Get a load of Honey bun tonight!”

Here's my new favorite video of Princeton. He jumps over his best friend Tashi, the Beagle-Jack Russell Terrier mix. Wow!