Exercise is important for Great Danes for numerous reasons. Being a very large dog exercise will help to keep their muscles strong giving extra support and protection for their joints. Staying fit will keep them healthy as the Great Dane can be prone to health issues.
They are also not a lazy dog by any means and lack of stimulation can result in behavior issues such as nuisance barking or destructive behavior.
Great Dane Exercise Level
The Great Dane would be considered a moderately active dog and do have a good level of endurance.
The suggested daily needs for a Great Dane is between 30 to 60 minutes every day. This should include a daily walk with additional free play and strengthening exercises. High impact or over strenuous exercise can lead to joint pain.
Excessive exercise and over-exercising them can put extra strain on their joints and cause other health issues. See overexercised dog symptoms for signs to be aware of.
Their daily activity requirements can be grouped into three categories.
- Daily Walk
- Free Play
- Mental Stimulation
Avoid too much exercise with a Great Dane puppy
These suggestions relate to a healthy adult Great Dane 18 months or older. Great Dane puppies grow fast and this can put excessive stress on their bodies. Their growth plates are not completely closed until they are over 18 months old.
Long walks are not required for a puppy and the best exercise for a Great Dane puppy is free to play off-leash. Avoid high impact activity on hard surfaces.
- up to 6months old 10 to 15 minutes a day is sufficient.
- 6 to 12 months old 30 minutes a day is enough.
- 12 to 18 months, not a lot more than 6 to 12 months is needed
For more on exercise for a puppy see here.
Mental stimulation is important for puppies and can tire them just as much as physical activity. For more on mental stimulation for puppies see here.
Great Dane exercise after eating
Great Danes are one of the dog breeds that are at a higher risk of bloat or GDV (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus ), Do not feed your Great Dane straight before or after exercise to minimize the risk of this. Wait at least one hour, preferably two hours before or after exercise. For more about avoiding bloat in your Great Dane see here.
It is also recommended that you feed your Great Dane on an elevated surface or from a raised bowl to aid with digestion and prevent GDV.
See Raised Dog Bowls on Amazon.
Great Dane Walking Needs
A healthy adult Great Dane will require a daily walk of 30 to 60 minutes. It is better to go for shorter walks daily than to do nothing all week and have a long session on the weekend.
The pace a person walks will be a slow lumber for a Great Dane. Jogging or walking at a brisk pace will allow them to gait in a more natural way and provide aerobic benefits.
If your Great Dane has good recall, off-leash walking or running at the park is ideal.
Can Great Danes go on long walks
Great Danes do have a good level of stamina and can walk for reasonably long distances. However, 30 to 60 minutes is probably more than sufficient. If you do choose to go on long walks, monitor your Great Dane for signs of fatigue, soreness or excessive panting. Bring the walk to an end if they seem to be struggling.
Great Dane Free Play
Free play in your yard or at the park is a great way to burn pent up energy, provide mental stimulation and have some fun. Here are some suggested ways for providing the opportunity for your Great Dane to play and exercise.
Play with toys
Provide you Great Dane with a good range of toys. This will help encourage them to be more active. To learn about the different type of dog toys and how to use them see here.
Fetch is a favorite game for most dogs. It not only gets a dog moving but is also a great bonding activity for you both. Remember not to overdo it and end the game if they are panting excessively or showing signs that they have had enough.
Keep this a controlled game for your Great Dane so they are not turning too quickly which can put pressure on the joints. A soft surface such as on the grass is best.
Play with other dogs
Provide the opportunity for your Great Dane to play with other dogs. This is not only great to burn energy and stimulate their mind, but teaches them important social skills. Great Danes love the company of people and other dogs.
Great Dane muscle building and strengthening exercise
One of the major benefits of incorporating muscle building and strengthening activities into your dog’s daily exercise is that it assists to prevent injury. This is achieved by building muscle to support and give stability to the joints and tendons and increase bone density.
From a fitness point of view strengthening exercises increase the cardiovascular system and reduces fat preventing obesity and helps maintain a healthy weight. For overall health, it improves gastrointestinal regularity, strengthens the immune system and improves sleeping and eating patterns.
Here is some suggested strengthening exercise you can do with your Great Dane.
Walking up and down stairs is a good exercise in that it provides two complementary actions. Going up the stairs makes them use their muscles to propel forward. Coming down the stairs requires balance and controlled core stability.
It is important not to rush up and down the stairs and keep this a controlled exercise to avoid injury.
Tug of war
A classic dog game and one that is loved by most dogs. Make them use their strength to crouch and pull back. Many dog trainers are opposed to this game as they feel it encourages dominate behavior. As long as your dog takes and releases the tug toy on command and you control the game this is not an issue.
A spring pole is simply a spring connected to a rope that hangs from a tree branch or beam with a lure or toy attached to the end. This allows your dog to play tug of war with him or herself even if you are not there. Popular with a lot of dogs and particularly strong breeds like Bullmastiffs that love a good game of tug of war.
This is similar to human squats. Have your dog sit and then stand. You can use treats to make this easier. If they don’t stand when you say just step back and offer the treat. After a week or two, you can increase the resistance of the exercise by putting a backpack on your dog and add weight, but not more than 10% of their body weight.
For more muscle building and strengthening exercises for dogs see here.
Great Dane Mental Stimulation
Your Great Dane will get some mental stimulation and enrichment from their daily walk and time spent with free play. However, it is a good idea to provide other activities that stimulate the mind. Mental exercise can burn as much energy as physical exercise.
Many dog behavior problems are a direct result of boredom. Read “Mental enrichment and mind stimulation for dogs” to learn about the six categories of enrichment for dogs.
Some ideas to provide mental stimulation include;
Puzzle toys are a great way to test your dog’s intelligence and improve their problem-solving skills. Check out “Top puzzle toys for dogs” for my top picks.
Kong toys which you stuff with food and treats work in much the same way. Read “How to use a Kong for dogs”.
Puzzle toys are great for times when your dog is home alone. Great Danes love company and many have separation anxiety when left alone. If your dog is home alone while you are at work or out you may find some helpful information at “Leaving a dog alone while at work”
Teaching new commands and tricks is also excellent to provide mental enrichment. A popular game that involves learning is to teach them the names of their toys. Dogs can learn hundreds of words and names.
Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs and has many benefits including maintaining dental health and keeping them occupied. It also as mental health benefits. When a dog chews it releases endorphins to their brain making them feel calm and relaxed helping to lift their overall mood.
For more on the benefits of chewing and the best chew toys for your dog see here.
Turn mealtimes into an opportunity for your Great Dane to get a mental challenge and enrichment. Instead of feeding them from a bowl, give them activities that require them to work for their food. To learn more about feeding enrichment for dogs see here.
Enrich their environment
Environmental enrichment is the process of making a dog’s living space more engaging and interesting. To learn more about environmental enrichment for dogs see here.
How much exercise does an Older Great Dane need
As a dog gets older they become less active and have lower energy levels. However, it is still important that they remain reasonably active to keep their joints and muscles mobile and to manage their weight. Read ” Dog exercise for a senior dog” to learn more.
Many dogs develop arthritis as they age. Exercise for them becomes a balancing act. It is important to keep their joints mobile and manage weight, but too much can make them sore. Read “How to exercise an arthritic dog” to learn more.
Great Danes are also very prone to hip dysplasia especially as they get older. Read Exercising a dog with hip dysplasia for advice on this.
Summary – Great Dane Exercise Needs
Great Danes are not a lazy dog and do require daily moderate exercise of 30 to 60 minutes. Great Dane puppies do not require too much exercise as they are growing quickly. Exercise for an older Great Dane is still important to keep them mobile and healthy but a balance is required to avoid soreness.