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Home Training and BehaviorBasic Training Top Basic Training Tips for Large Breed Dogs: Techniques for Success

Top Basic Training Tips for Large Breed Dogs: Techniques for Success

by Dan Turner

Training a large breed dog can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Their size alone makes it crucial to establish good manners early on. I’ve learned that consistency and patience are your best friends in this journey.

Starting with the basics, like sit, stay, and come, sets a strong foundation for both you and your furry friend. It’s not just about teaching commands, though. It’s about building a bond that’ll last a lifetime. Let’s jump into some essential tips that’ll help make training your large breed dog a breeze.

Understanding Large Breed Dogs

When I first considered getting a large breed dog, I knew I was in for a lot of joy and, well, a bit more dog than your average lapdog. But it wasn’t just about the size or the fluff; I quickly learned that understanding their unique needs and behaviors was key to a happy coexistence. So, let’s jump into the world of these gentle giants, shall we?

First things first, large breed dogs are not just big; they’re like the SUVs of the dog world, powerful, sturdy, and surprisingly agile. Breeds like Great Danes, Mastiffs, and Bernese Mountain Dogs come to mind. They’ve got this aura of nobility, but don’t let that fool you, they can be as goofy as any small pup.

They Wear Their Hearts on Their Furry Sleeves

Large breed dogs tend to be exceptionally loyal and protective of their families. This is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you’ve got a faithful friend for life; on the other, it’s crucial to socialize them early. I can’t stress this enough. Introducing them to various people, pets, and environments when they’re young helps them become well-adjusted adults.

Patience is Key

Training these gentle giants requires patience and consistency. I learned the hard way that shouting or getting frustrated doesn’t work. They respond best to positive reinforcement like treats, praise, and playtime. Here’s what worked for me:

  • Start with basic commands: Sit, stay, come.
  • Keep training sessions short: They’ve got big bodies but attention spans the size of a pea.
  • Exercise is crucial: Physical and mental stimulation keeps them happy and obedient.

Special Considerations for the Gentle Giants

One thing I wasn’t fully prepared for was the healthcare side of things. Large breeds are prone to specific health issues, including hip dysplasia and bloat. Regular check-ups with the vet and a proper diet are critical.

  • Watch their diet: Overfeeding leads to obesity, which strains their joints.
  • Regular vet visits: Catch issues early.
  • Exercise, but don’t overdo it: Especially while they’re still growing.

Importance of Early Socialization

When we think about crafting well-mannered, friendly large breed dogs, early socialization stands out as the cornerstone. Imagine it as setting the foundation for a skyscraper. Just as you’d want that building to withstand storms and quakes, socializing your pup ensures they’re prepared for the world’s unpredictability.

From the moment they step paw into your life, the clock’s ticking. The prime socialization window is between three to fourteen weeks. It’s in this golden timeframe that their little minds are most malleable, eager to soak up experiences like a sponge.

Here’s what early socialization looks like in practice:

  • Introducing your pup to a mix of humans: kids, adults, the elderly, to foster trust and friendliness.
  • Exposing them to other animals: especially other dogs and cats they’re likely to encounter regularly.
  • Acclimating them to various environments: bustling streets, tranquil parks, noisy vehicles, and different terrains.
  • Familiarizing them with household sounds: vacuum cleaners, doorbells, and washing machines, so these don’t become their bane.

Neglecting this crucial period can lead to a grown dog that’s anxious, fearful, or even aggressive in unfamiliar scenarios. Scary, right? But it doesn’t have to be your story.

Incorporate these social encounters gradually and positively. Always watch for signs of stress or discomfort in your pup. It’s like introducing someone to spicy food; you don’t start with the hottest chili. Reward them for brave, curious behavior with treats, affection, or playtime. Remember, the goal is positive experiences, building a buffet of good memories in their mind.

But what if your dog’s beyond the magical window? Are you doomed to life with a four-legged hermit? Absolutely not. While older dogs might take a bit longer to warm up to new experiences, they’re still capable of learning. It just requires a dab more patience and a heap of consistent, gentle encouragement.

As their guide, you’ll marvel at their growth, from cautious puppy to confident canine, ready to face the world tail wagging.

Consistency in Training

When it comes to training large breed dogs, I’ve learned that consistency isn’t just beneficial—it’s crucial. Imagine trying to learn a new skill with the rules changing every day. Confusing, right? Well, our furry friends feel the same way. By maintaining a steady approach, we pave the path for quicker learning and a stronger bond between us and our giant companions.

Let’s break it down to essentials:

  • Establish Rules Early: Decide on what’s allowed and what’s not from day one. Can they nap on the sofa? Are certain rooms off-limits? Setting these ground rules early prevents confusion for your dog and frustration for you.
  • Routine is Key: Just like us, dogs thrive on routine. Having a predictable schedule for feeding, walks, and training sessions helps them feel secure and simplifies training. They’ll know when it’s time to focus and when it’s playtime, making training sessions more productive.
  • Be Consistent with Commands: Consistency goes beyond schedules; it applies to the commands we use too. If “sit” is your command of choice, stick to it. Switching between “sit down” and “sit” may seem minor to us, but it can throw a dog off their learning curve.
  • Rewards and Corrections: Keep your rewards and corrections consistent as well. If jumping on guests earns a stern “no” one day and gets a laugh the next, it sends mixed signals. Apply the same logic to rewarding good behavior. Consistency in your responses teaches them clear right from wrong.
  • Involve the Household: Finally, everyone in the house needs to be on the same page. It won’t do any good if I’m the only one enforcing the rules while everyone else lets things slide. Consistency is a team effort.

Training large breed dogs is an adventure, filled with challenges and triumphs. By embedding consistency into our approach, we not only enhance their learning experience but also deepen the trust and communication between us. Remember, it’s not about being overly strict but providing a reliable framework for them to thrive in. With patience and persistence, the journey of training our gentle giants can be a rewarding experience that strengthens the unbreakable bond we share with our four-legged family members.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

When it comes to training and living with large breed dogs, I’ve learned there’s a key piece of the puzzle many tend to overlook: the right blend of exercise and mental stimulation. Large breeds aren’t just big couch potatoes; they’re powerhouses of energy and intellect that thrive when their minds and bodies are properly engaged.

Let’s break it down a bit.

Physical Exercise: Not Just a Walk in the Park

First off, physical exercise. It’s not just about the quantity, but the quality of the activities they’re getting into. Sure, walks are great, but these giants need more to burn off their energy and maintain their health. Here are some ideas:

  • Hiking on varied terrains
  • Playing fetch with a sturdy, appropriately-sized toy
  • Participating in dog sports like agility or swimming

Mental Stimulation: Smart Ways to Keep Those Brains Busy

Onto the brainy stuff. Mental stimulation is just as crucial as physical exercise. It keeps their minds sharp and prevents boredom, which, trust me, you want to avoid at all costs with a big dog. Here’s how to keep those neurons firing:

  • Puzzle toys that reward them with treats
  • Training sessions that teach new tricks or reinforce old ones
  • Interactive games that challenge their problem-solving skills

Incorporating these activities into our daily routine has not only made life with my large breed more manageable, but it’s also deepened our bond. They look to me for guidance, entertainment, and companionship in ways I hadn’t experienced before we got serious about exercise and mental engagement.

Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog – and when it comes to large breeds, this couldn’t be truer. Balancing physical activities with brain games ensures they’re satisfied on all fronts, leading to a more harmonious home. Plus, it’s a blast to watch them solve a puzzle toy or catch air chasing after a ball. There’s never a dull moment.

Incorporating these strategies into your training routine will not only enhance your dog’s overall well-being but will also strengthen the bond you share. It’s an ongoing journey of discovery, teaching, and, most importantly, fun.

Positive Reinforcement Techniques

When it comes to training large breed dogs, I’m a huge advocate of positive reinforcement. It’s not just about tossing a treat their way when they sit on command—though that certainly is part of it. Positive reinforcement encompasses a variety of strategies that all share one goal: to make training feel like a game they never want to stop playing. Here’s how I make it happen.

First off, timing is everything. The moment your dog performs the desired behavior, mark it with a word like “Yes!” or a clicker, and then immediately reward them. This precise timing helps them connect the dots between the action and the reward.

Next, variety is the spice of life, even for dogs. If you’re only using treats as rewards, you might find their interest starts to wane. Mixing it up is key. Here are a few rewards I rotate between:

  • Treats: Sure, they’re the go-to, but I keep a variety on hand to keep things exciting.
  • Toys: A quick tug-of-war session can be just as rewarding as a snack.
  • Praise: Never underestimate the power of a good belly rub or enthusiastic praise.
  • Adventure: Sometimes, the best reward is a short walk or a trip to a new park.

It’s also important to set your dog up for success. Start with training sessions in environments with minimal distractions. As they get better, gradually introduce more challenging settings. This builds their confidence and ensures training feels doable, not daunting.

Another cornerstone of positive reinforcement is consistency. Everyone in the household needs to use the same commands and rewards system. This consistency helps your dog understand what’s expected of them no matter who’s conducting the training session.

Finally, patience is your best friend. Sometimes, it might feel like you’re not making progress, but every dog learns at their own pace. Celebrate the small wins and remember each step forward is a victory.

By incorporating these techniques into your training routine, you’re not just teaching your dog commands. You’re fostering a positive relationship built on trust and mutual respect.


Training large breed dogs doesn’t have to be a challenging job. By incorporating positive reinforcement and keeping sessions fun and rewarding, you’re not just teaching commands; you’re building a deep, trusting relationship. So grab those treats, toys, and your endless supply of patience. With consistency and love, you’ll see your gentle giant transform into a well-behaved companion. Let’s make every training session a step towards a happier, more harmonious life with our big furry friends.


Dan Turner

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