I often get the question, how are Great Danes with children? Well I can tell you who I usually trust more and it’s typically the dog. Kiddos are super unpredictable and Great Danes are very sensitive to that. Great Danes can carry so much fear and anxiety depending on their background and children typically don’t help them overcome that. In fact, I think that children can cause more issues with the dog. I have some pretty intense thoughts but overall, here’s what you need to know about Great Danes and children.
Do I feel that Great Danes can be good with kids? Absolutely, I just feel like they need to be respected and children need to know how to behave properly around them.
Not all dogs love kids, even though most kids love dogs. Because children can be so dang unpredictable it’s often that dogs end up give a warning nip to finally be heard or understood when boundaries are crossed.
If your Great Dane is resting, let them rest. No one likes to be bothered in their sleep, especially dogs.
Oh, and that thing where you set your child on top of a Great Dane because its funny that your dog is the size of a pony, knock it off. It’s only a matter of time before your dog has had enough and ends up at The Great Dane Sanctuary because of a dog bite that could have been prevented.
I may be more blunt about this than most, because I see things happen day in and day out in rescue, but sorrynotsorry your dog deserves to be listened to and understood. When it comes to Great Danes and children, I’m just extremely passionate.
I like to give people the advice to never let their children come towards a dog face to face. Always let the dog approach your children, at their own pace, whenever they feel like making that interaction. Having this boundary set means that the dogs can trust in their humans more and can trust the kids that they won’t approach.
Now, I also understand that this can all be very challenging so I highly encourage dogs to have a mat, or a dog bed, in the corner of the room where they can retreat for quiet time. In this space, under no circumstance is anyone allowed to touch the dog while relaxing/resting.
Never Punish A Growl
It seems to be quite often that we get dog bite cases that “come out of nowhere” within my rescue group. I’m always untrusting of that. Dogs always give some type of warning signs leading up to unwanted behavior and it’s up to us humans to be in tune enough to watch those signs.
If your Great Dane or your dog gives a child a growl, don’t punish him for showing he is uncomfortable. Yes, I know that the behavior is unacceptable all around, but, it’s unfortunately common. We typically want to yell at the dog to be nice, or knock it off, but then we don’t teach the child that it may have done something wrong either. Be thankful that your dog gave a warning sign, if it continues to go punished he will stop trying to warn you and go for a bite instead, because we all know that he will finally be understood then, and likely given away because of his actions.
Great Danes and children can be extremely successful in homes, but they can also go terribly wrong. If you dog is starting to growl, you’ll need to take other precautionary measures to ensure things don’t escalate.
If your Great Dane and children aren’t getting along, and growls are starting to happen within the home, I highly suggest to start muzzle training. Actually, incidents don’t even need to happen and I still recommend muzzle training.
“Why a muzzle? My dog doesn’t deserve to live like that? That’s not fair to him.” I hear this all the time, typically from people looking to surrender their Great Dane to the Sanctuary, or into our rescue program when I let them know they have the chance to keep their dog if they work with them a bit more. I tell you what, your dog doesn’t deserve to be put down for your lack of trying to help him succeed, your dog doesn’t deserve to be left for someone else to figure out. He should trust you, and if you can find a way for him to stay, why not do that for him?
Muzzle training not only saves the lives of dogs, but also keeps everyone safe. Cash nipped at my nephew 2 years ago (all my fault, I didn’t read him the way I should have, but now I have experience to share) and we immediately started muzzle training so that we could have safe interactions with my nephew in the future.
Your dog is starting to be uncomfortable with the kiddos, you can put your dog in his safe space in the corner that we talked about where he can be free from approaching children, and if he is off of that mat he can have a muzzle on. That means he will get used to kiddos, continue giving his growl to show he is uncomfortable, without being able to physically harm anyone other than a muzzle bump.
Overall, muzzles can help Great Danes and children have a better relationship.
Train Your Children
I kind of feel like a horrible human for even writing this but train.your.kids! This goes hand in hand with setting boundaries as I mentioned earlier in the post. Train your kids to calm down, they don’t need to running past and running away from the dog only to encourage the dog to chase back or get worked up.
Calm, slow movements in the home will keep everyone happy.
Make sure that you train your kids to train the neighbors. I hear so many stories of kids coming into homes unannounced and dogs biting those kiddos. I would probably bite them too if they came flying into my house catching me by surprise.
Consult a Behaviorist
If things are going sideways for you and your dog it not doing well with children, and you have children in your home, consult with a local behaviorist to help guide you through precautions to make and how to continue having a happy and healthy home. You don’t want this to get out of hand, so at the first sign of this behavior, start reaching out.
I realize that I sound like I’m suggesting that Great Danes are not great with kids, but I definitely don’t mean that. They can be great with children, really engage and enjoy their company. I just want to set up the expectations that things can change and setting up your dog for success should always be a priority.
I know many people will say that their human children come first, and I totally get that. I just want to make sure you understand your dog and are advocating for them as well, especially if you have kids or a busy home.
Wednesday 6th of April 2022
Thank you for all of this wonderful information, Karla!