Large breed dogs have a reputation for being dangerous and just a little harder to handle during training. Indeed, the larger the dog, the more powerful it is, which can result in greater injuries if attacked. However, with the proper training, any breed can be a peaceful and obedient pet. Here are three ways to overcome various obstacles faced when training large dogs.
Teach Them Not to Jump
When a dog sees someone new, his first reaction is often to jump up and place his front paws on the newcomer. Though this excitable behavior is often thought of as "cute" and "harmless" with small dogs, it's a big problem with large dogs. A 120-pound Rottweiler or a 250-pound St. Bernard who jumps can very easily topple an adult human, and could cause serious injuries to a smaller child. Excitement is hard to control, so large dogs must be taught an alternative behavior. Instead of jumping, encourage the dog to offer his paw for a handshake. Guide what would be their natural reaction to something a little calmer or easier for strangers to handle. A lawyer specializing in dog and animal bites recommends keeping your pet away from strangers until these behaviors have been truly ingrained in them.
Use Fixed-Length Leashes
Retractable leashes are popular because they reduce pulling, and allow the dog more freedom while out and about. Large dogs, however, should ideally be walked on a shorter fixed-length leash. A German Shepherd on a retractable leash will feel he has more freedom to run and act on that feeling, not good when he's not yet trained or easy to control. Using a shorter leash will teach the dog appropriate walking distances and will help keep him away from potential trouble.
Show Affection from Day One
The better a dog is treated, the less likely he is to show aggressive tendencies. This goes for dogs of all sizes, including big dogs. A dog who has been properly socialized with humans since puppyhood is generally much safer than one who has been neglected or had limited human exposure. Large breed puppies like Great Danes and Boxers should be given lots of positive attention from a variety of people of all ages to help reduce the risk of aggressive behavior. Once trust is built between a dog and his owner, the owner should be around to comfort the dog during stressful new scenarios such as vet visits, car rides, and thunderstorms.
Large breed dogs can make great pets, but they need to be very well trained to avoid dangerous interactions due to their size and power. The best way to prevent injuries and other incidents is proper training for all dogs, especially large breeds.