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)


Anonymous said...

Yes, he will calm down. But when danes get older they become somewhat surly and are very particular about where they sit/lay. Our older dane moans and groans and headbutts whoever's in his spot on the couch until they move. They also become MAJOR couch potatoes...


Mindy Lu said...

BARK! I was like that when I first came to mommy and daddy, but getting older, I am too mature to do things like that. But my little brother Max does a lot of the same things now. And he still likes to play bitey face. I just insist he lick my ears and call me princess! BARK! Sasha the Princess

Honey the Great Dane said...

Aw...I went through a difficult time too, when I was in my teens! My humans can't believe I'm the same dog, now! Hee! Hee!

Yes, we do calm down as we mature - but we also need training to help us, otherwise we get into bad habits and remain unruly, even when we get older.

And I don't agree with Anonymous - Danes don't have to get surly as they get older or fussy about where they lay. It's all about how we're trained and raised and brought up - what manners we are taught.

And too many people just accept the label of "couch potato". Sure, we love to laze around and we're generally not hyper dogs but that doesn't mean that you can't do things with us! I think because a lot of Danes are so mellow and undemanding, people can get away with not bothering to do much with them - but Danes can do ANYTHING if you put in the time & effort and let them realise their full potential! :-)

Honey the Great Dane
ps. I like to play those bitey games with my friends too - even now!