Dog Training

Potty Training Your Great Dane

potty training, house breaking great dane

How To Potty Train Your Great Dane

I know a lot about a little and a little about a lot of things. One thing I know a lot about is potty training or house breaking puppies.

Many dogs end up in shelters because their owners give up on the potty training process or general obedience issues. While some dogs or some breeds are harder to train than others, in just about all aspects of behavior issues or behavior modification, they can all be trained with enough patience and persistence. It is those two ingredients that their owners tend to lack.

First Things First

Puppies that are first going home have a very hard time holding their bladder. Not only do they not yet know that you expect it of them, they are physically incapable of holding it for long periods, due to the size of their bladder. They will need frequent trips outside. Putting your puppy in a crate for 8 or more hours while you’re at work isn’t going to keep your brand new, 8 week old puppy from having accidents. The control comes with time and physical development.

So, how do you start the potty training process?

While I have house broken many dogs, for the sake of this article, I’m referring to Great Danes. Smaller breeds and toy breeds can be much harder to train and the process is considerably longer due to their size.

  1. Your new puppy should go out once every hour in the beginning.
  2. Your new puppy should go outside immediately after waking from naps.
  3. You should stay outside with your puppy until he has done his business, however long that takes. You want the puppy to learn that going outside means it’s time for him to go potty. If you continually give up and take him back inside before he has gone, he’s sure to tinkle in the house.
  4. Your puppy should be crated at night. Putting him in a laundry room or bathroom gives him too much space to eliminate. In the very beginning, be prepared to set an alarm half way through your sleep to take him outside.
  5. Your puppy should NOT have full access to your home. For the first couple of weeks, he should always be in eye shot of an adult. That means only allowing him access to the room you are in and for you to be in that room at all times. If you cannot be in the room with him, and that literally means every second, he needs to be crated.

It’s a lot of work but the more work you put into it immediately, when you first bring your puppy home, the faster the process will go and the happier you will be!

Bad habits are hard to break and if your puppy starts off with the idea that he can go inside, you have a new (and stinky) challenge on your hands.

Poop Patrol – Supervising Your Puppy

I always keep my puppies on a leash when we go outside. Not only am I potty training them, they are also learning to be led with the leash. That being said, in the beginning, I almost always pick the puppy up to take him outside after waking from naps or if he’s about to tinkle on the floor. The faster we can get outside, the better!

It’s important to supervise your puppy in the beginning. You need to know that he did, in fact, do his business and what business he did exactly. While it is much easier to simply let him outside and back in later, he may have been too busy playing or exploring to go potty. When I do let them out to play, before bringing the puppy back inside, I clip the leash and walk them to the yard to wait for them to show me. Eventually they will learn to at least try by squatting, even if there’s nothing in the tank.


The very idea of a crate makes some people cringe. Others, who have had multiple dogs in their life, know better!

While the puppy will initially dislike being confined in a crate, they generally come to love it if it’s purpose hasn’t been abused. Dogs like to sleep in dens. It’s their safe place, where they are protected from predators or simply irritating things while they snooze. It’s also a great potty training tool!

Their appreciation of their safe haven is quickly non-existent if their human takes advantage of it.

So, When To Crate?

Crate your puppy over night. As said previously, in the beginning, set an alarm for the middle of your sleep to take the puppy outside. Do this for at least a week. All dogs, like all humans, are different and will pick things up at different rates. How long you’ll be setting your night-time alarm can be determined by how your puppy progresses.

Place your puppy in his crate if you walk out of the room he’s confined in. That is the room that you are watching his every move. If you can’t be there for a few minutes, put him in the crate IF he can’t go outside. Of course, puppies love to play outside and putting him outside when you walk away is ideal.

How To Crate?

The crate should only offer the puppy enough room to turn around. Too much room gives him a place to pee. Offering a comfy blanket or padding is appreciated! Do not put food or water in the crate with him.

But, I Want My Puppy To Sleep With Me…

Okay, I get it. But, which do you want more right now? A potty trained puppy or a body to keep you warm?

Before you answer that, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • That warm body beside you in bed may become a warm puddle in the middle of the night. You could be waking up, changing your sheets, and scrubbing your mattress.
  • That cute little cuddle bug doesn’t care that it’s time to sleep and when HE wakes up in the middle of the night, because he needs to pee or just wants to play, he will chew on your nose, play tug-o-war with your hair, and paw you in the face until you’re so annoyed and exhausted that you take him straight to his crate.

Once your puppy is potty trained, he’ll also be a little more mature. There’s plenty of time for him to hog the bed later. For right now, it’s best to start him off right so that you’re both happier and better rested.

How Long Does This Take?!

It takes however long it takes and when it’s done, it will all have been worth it!

Generally, IF you’ve been a stickler for the rules and dedicated to the every hour timeline, or after waking from naps, AND monitoring his every move while inside, he’s probably had very few, if any, accidents. When would he have a chance to make a mistake anyway, because you’re always watching?

After 1-2 weeks, you can probably (and that’s probabably, not definetely) ease up on the every hour routine. By this point, he’s probably got the idea that when he goes outside, he’s to perform a certain task. And he’ll usually at least show you he’s trying, even if he can’t produce.

So, What’s Next?

Once your puppy has the idea, and has had developmental progress and is able to hold it a little longer, you can move into phase 2.

At this point, your job is to:

  1. Take him outside after every nap
  2. Take him outside every 2 hours (supervised, if possible)
  3. You’re still monitoring his every move and he’s not to be left alone in a room. IF he’s just come in from outside (like, less than 10 minutes ago) and you need to step away, you can probably take a quick 5 minute break and everything will be okay. If it’s been more than 30 minutes since he was outside, you need to stick to him like glue.
  4. When over night crating, you may or may not still need a middle of the night alarm. Test it one day and see how your puppy does. If he holds it over night, you’re safe to try it night by night. But, the very minute you wake up, your dog needs to go outside before you do anything else! Of course, before you crate him each night, going potty needs to happen just before he’s crated.

The Home Stretch

The potty training process usually takes about 6 – 12 weeks, depending on the dog and depending on YOU and how well you’ve stuck to the routine.

It does get easier as the weeks progress but his success is a direct relation of your dedication to it.

Can’t I Just Send Him To Training?

Yes! There are a lot of options for training your puppy but regardless of what you choose, you will still have to follow through at home to keep him on track, once he’s learned the basics.

Potty training is a 24 hour job and if it’s not one you want to undertake,  your puppy will need to be sent to a trainer for a few weeks. He will stay with the trainer during this time and be boarded at their kennel or in their home. The trainer will work with the puppy constantly, following the same procedures described above, to get your puppy on track.

If you’ve purchased a puppy from DFW Great Danes, I do offer training services for my offspring.

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