New family member – Tips

When you first get your Great Dane, the goal is to make the experience and transition for all involved as smooth as possible. The bonding will begin and grow when the animal senses it is secure and loved. The Dane will be unsure of what to expect from you, so maintain a calm demeanor at all times – even though the dog’s behavior is not perfect, especially in the first few days. You will both have to learn a lot about each other’s behavior and expectations. You can make this a pleasant learning experience by being patient, using encouragement/praise, and some gentle humor, thereby reinforcing the dog’s trust in you. Anger, outbursts or frustration will only project to the dog and make it insecure, confused and uncomfortable. This is not the kind of relationship you want.

If you have another dog at home, the best way to let them become acquainted is to take them on a long walk together. During the initial phase of the walk, eye contact/sniffing between the dogs should be kept to a minimum. When the dogs’ body language is relaxed enough, you can casually begin to let them sniff each other on and off during the remainder of walk. Instead of direct eye contact, you might want to make them both sit, facing you and offer each a treat – then continue with walking them. If a walk isn’t possible, they should meet in a neutral setting (a park, or other enclosed area) where neither dog feels threatened by territory. Keep your foster on a loose leash while the introductions are being made, watching carefully the body language – a certain amount of posturing is normal and to be expected. Once they have completed their usual dog ritual of sniffing, circling (tails held NOT above the body in a rigid manner) etc., and you are comfortable that there will be no physical display of dominance, let the foster off leash to complete the familiarization process. Dogs are much better than humans at establishing the ‘pecking order’ and usually do so within the first few minutes of meeting. Once the dogs establish who is the more dominant, this may become the alpha order for the remainder of their time together.

Feline members of the household have a way of letting the dog know in short order whether or not they are interested in getting up close and personal with this new ‘intruder’. Let the cat introduce itself at it’s own pace.

When feeding time comes around make sure your new family member has a set place where it’s bowl will be served and keep an eye on your dogs the first few days. Some dogs will show no signs of being the dominant dog until the food bowl is set down. Be watchful.

Orient your dog …
Take your dog to its toileting area frequently from different rooms in your house the first day and praise it every time the dog does what is expected. It will quickly learn the layout of your home. If an accident does occur, don’t chastise the dog. Concentrate on praising your new companion when he/she shows understanding of any desired behavior. Make sure there are ample opportunities for your dog to relieve itself as needed, especially during the first weeks when it is still learning the schedule of the household.

For the first few days, keep your household as quiet and serene as possible. Let the dog get totally comfortable with you and other family members before inviting company over to ‘meet the new dog’. Too many new faces too soon can stress and confuse your new family member.

Once the bonding process has started (which usually happens after your new household member realizes you are the one who opens the refrigerator door!) it is not unusual for your new dog to want to be with you all the time. It may mean having an ‘open door’ (yes – even bathrooms!!) policy for a while until the dog feels secure in its new surroundings. Don’t discourage this – the dog just wants to know that there will be someone there for him/her. In time, this dependence will settle down (you may even be able to close the bathroom door!).

Treat your new friend as you would like to be treated if you had to experience total relocation to a new place with only complete strangers as your allies.

After some time and patience, everyone can relax.

As a Rescue group, we not only find new homes for Great Danes, but also act as a resource for Adopters or other Dane lovers. If you ever have any questions about your adopted pet, please call us and we will attempt to answer your questions. We have many resources to get answers if we can’t advise you on any given question.