DO GREAT DANE HAVE HIGH PREY DRIVE
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HISTORY The German nobles created this breed by developing mastiff-type dogs, they needed the size and muscle mass to take down wild boars. Key to remember that they weren’t especially tracking dogs, they were more utilised for the size! In addition to this, along the way, Greyhound genes were added for speed and the Wolfhound was also introduced for their height. The dogs that were created from this combination were fearsome hunters with the physical stature to intimidate anything that comes across its path. But to create this lovable, large-than-life breed we know today. They had to learn to become human companions, and we can thank the noblemen that fancied the breeds as formidable guard dogs of both their property and family members. So through decades of living with people instead of hunting, their personalities shifted to become affectionate and people-orientated. But they still maintained that defensive streak! Whilst they have become one of the most popular breeds of dog due to their affection for their human family members, it is important to remember that all dog breed have evolved from wolves. Now, it is easy to forget this as the Great Dane is now known as a gentle giant but it is key to remember that a wolf’s survival was heavily dependent on a prey drive for survival! So whilst a Great Dane was bred and cultivated to become the perfect human companion, their ancestral traits can always remain! It’s a classic argument of nature over nurture, all dogs can potentially revert back to basic instincts. But in this video, we’re focused on how high that chance is in a Great Dane when it comes to their prey drive! TEMPERAMENT We’ll start with temperament. It is no surprise when I tell you that Great Dane’s are known as gentle giants. That is the alure of having a dog as big, or even bigger, than yourself! They make beautiful additions to the family, their peaceful disposition and relentless attempts at being a lap dog will just make them a joy to be around! Who could have a bad day when your 60kg Great Dane is desperate to share your spot on the sofa?? Their peaceful disposition can commonly translate to all species, if introduced and socialised appropriately! They don’t tend to show much need to dominant or assert themselves in a home environment, they’re more bothered about getting comfy with their human counterparts! So we’ve been extremely successful in breeding out the hunting skills they were historically bred for! However, that doesn’t mean to say that training them isn’t important, all dogs still need to taught was is and isn’t acceptable behaviour, no matter how docile they appear to be! TRAINING For their owner, a Great Dane will be eager to please. And it’s always best to discover if your dog is more food or praise orientated early on so they associate training with a reward they want from a young age. A firm hand is what is going to be needed to train your Great Dane but harsh correction is unlikely to produce a well trained dog. You want to be fairly firm in the beginning when they’re small, it will become increasingly difficult to handle an unruly, fully grown Great Dane. Recall is arguably one of the most important commands to teach your pup. Until this is set in stone, I’d be reluctant to let any dog truly off-lead. Instead, whilst you don’t have 100% confidence in your dog’s recall, a long line, simply a lead that can be 5-10ft, will be your safety net. Recall is the best tool to prevent them from tearing off after a squirrel or rabbit in a lapse back into hunting mode. Whilst not all Great Dane’s will display this prey drive, it’s always best to be prepared and have those preventative measures in play! As a puppy, once they’re cleared to meet and greet other people and other dogs, it is so so important to socialise them correctly. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean meeting as many dogs and as many people as possible! It’s more that they need to explore the world around them in a positive way to ensure you have a well-rounded dog that’s less likely to be reactive. Taking this rambunctious, confident dog into places like cafes and dog parks and teaching them from a young age not to beg or not to charge over to every dog they see is crucial to a happy life with them. For a dog of such impressive size, they can be extremely intimidating to a lot of dog breeds. The last thing you want is for them to think is that bounding over to all the other dogs that they see as good manners. It will get them into trouble should they approach a nervous or reactive dog. Giving them the correct socialisation, letting them know that smaller dogs ect aren’t something to chase, will also help to dampen that need to chase ‘prey’. Again, this won’t always be an issue with Great Dane’s but it is always best to teach them to respect all breeds of dogs no matter the size! OVERVIEW Let’s recap what we’ve gone through today. Whilst the Great Dane has been cultivated over the years to be a loyal companion dog, their origins and ancestry can make it possible for them to have some level of prey drive. It isn’t typically something that is seen in Great Dane’s but it is always best to keep in mind that all dog breeds have the capacity to display this behaviour. Being aware of their history and temperament means you can alter their training to hopefully help to control that drive should they start presenting that behaviour.