*Bella passed away at the age of 11 in 2014. She is greatly missed. Life just isn't as interesting without a Dinosaur. - Seri
I often affectionately refer to my Great Dane, Bella, as my "dinosaur". She was the biggest puppy in the litter when she was born, and now, at seven years of age, she is still very large for a female Great Dane at 175 pounds and 35" tall at the withers.
I've had Bella since she was born, as she was one of 5 pups from a pergnant Great Dane I rescued. I planned to keep mom and a puppy, and it soon became evident that regardless of which puppy I wanted to keep, I was going to HAVE to keep Bella. She was a handful from the moment she was born, which, appropriately enough, was at exactly midnight on the dot on friday the 13th of June. I should have been warned, you know?
Don't get me wrong, she is a lovely dog. Very affectionate, loves to sit on your lap or lean on you. Very food orientated, which makes for easy training with food rewards. Typical velcro dane...follows me everywhere.
Can you tell I'm trying to put a positive spin on this?
Raising a Great Dane like Bella has been both rewarding and challenging, so I thought I would write this guide to help others who may have a Dog Like Bella. There are a lot of unnecessary capitol letters in this post. Just putting that out there.
How to Train Your Dinosaur
1) What's Mine is Mine and What's Yours Is...Also Mine.
Dinosaurs are couch animals. To keep your dinosaur comfortable and happy, it must have its own couch or bed. Preferably one of each.
Bella loves to sleep on the couch or my bed...in fact, you rarely see her anywhere else. Unfortunately she has a bit of a problem sharing, and seems to think ALL of the beds and ALL of the couches in the house belong solely to her, at all times.
For instance, whenever I have company, they often sit on the couches. Logical, right? Not to Bella. She will pace back and forth in front of whichever unfortunate soul happens to be sitting in her spot (in other words, everyone, since ALL the spots are hers), staring at them, shooting them glances, and occasionally nudging them with her giant head. She tries everything she possibly can to not-so-subtlety hint that you should FREAKING MOVE ALREADY! When, after many attempts, said company does not move, she simply sits on them at best, or at worst, barrels her way up on the couch and physically removes them by pushing against their bodies with her long legs with all her might.
Once company gets a clue and moves to another spot....Bella will be content for a few moments before she opens one eyelid slowly, eyeballing the new spot that has been stolen by the very person she just physically forced out of her desirable spot; and so it starts all over again.
No one visits me anymore. *frowny face*
This rule applies to my bed as well. Many a nights I have been woken up by long Great Dane Dinosaur legs shoving me off the bed as she "stretches" out. When you yell and scream at her, she just drowsily looks at you like "well geez, get off my bed if you don't like it then".
I am the Alpha....I am the Alpha....I repeat this mantra to myself often.
Oh, I should add...this rule also applies to the bathroom toilet. Bella does not like it when people close doors in the house. She can open any door, of any kind, with ease. You often hear screams from unknowing guests that use my bathroom while visiting and rush to their aid only to find a large spotted dog sitting in their lap while they are sitting on the toilet. "Privacy" isn't in the vocabulary of a Great Dane Dinosaur anymore than "share" is.
One time my brother and sister in law made the mistake of staying with me during the holidays. Being a good host that I am, I gave them my room and bed, and slept in the guest room on the twin bed. Bella had her own little couch in my room at the foot of the bed at that time, where she slept. Doorknobs mean nothing to Bella, she can open them with ease. Sometime in the middle of the night she decided she was no longer putting up with this "be a good host" bull and was going to sleep in HER bed. Not really a problem, except Bella is very cuddly in the mornings when she wakes up, usually coming and joining me in my bed and...."cuddling" (aka, crushing you with her enormous body and licking your face a lot). Bella is 175 pounds and 6' tall when she stands on her hind legs. My sister in law is all of 110 pounds and considerably shorter.
They stay at my moms house now.
2) All Bags/Boxes Must Contain Food
Your dinosaur is a large creature and thus, needs a lot of food. It doesn't really matter what you feed it, it will still be hungry. Kind of like a goat. Or a tapeworm.
Bella is obsessed with food. It doesn't matter what it is, if its food, she wants it and will find a way to get it. You will get a sense of this theme throughout this post.
My bed is her favourite place to explore/eat/destroy food items. She's also extremely sneaky about it. I can have a snoring, dead to the world Great Dane Dinosaur sound asleep in my bed when I decide I need a drink of water/have to pee/blink my eyes. If there is something in the room that contains food, be it in a box, in a wrapper, in a drawer....she will suddenly bolt out of a dead sleep and eat it, package and all, before you can say "boo". I swear she lays there, pretending to sleep, plotting her abduction of my food items the moment opportunity presents itself. You would think I would LEARN by now, but no, it seems I'm particularly dense when it comes to this rule.
One recent (and there are a lot of them, trust me) episode that comes to mind is this past christmas when I decided to make a pistachio pudding salad to take to my moms house. I had the can of pineapple and other assorted non-perishable items on the counter to remind me to make it the night before. Amoungst these items was, duh, a package of pistachio pudding. In a moment of denseness, I really didn't think there would be much scent or appeal to a box of unopened pudding powder.
I forgot Rule Number Two. All Boxes/Bags Must Contain Food.
I went downstairs for a quick moment to get something and my dead-to-the-world dinosaur apparently bolted off the couch, ran for the kitchen, snatched the box of pudding and dug in. I walked up the stairs a mere minute later to find Bella standing in the hallway, smacking her green frothy lips, looking like she'd just eaten a rabid alien. I ran for my room, knowing my bed would be the site of destruction per usual and sure enough, my freshly washed homemade quilt was covered with green sticky pudding powder. In the middle of this mess was my remote control.
I still make a face whenever I change channels. You can't exactly rinse off a remote control.
Needless to say, I showed up empty handed to moms the next day.
This afternoon I came home to find an entire brand new box of Ziplock baggies spread all over my bed, because All Boxes/Bags Must Contain Food. I can just imagine her spending the morning removing the ziplock baggies one by one from the box, utterly certain that food of some sort lay waiting for her at the bottom of the box.
Apparently she was starving after this adventure because I also found a large unopened can of Hunts diced tomatoes in the bed. Good thing I hid the can opener.
3) Childproof Locks Are Not Great Dane Dinosaur Proof Locks
Sometimes you have to use special care to keep things you don't want your dinosaur to get into safe, because of their large size.
Don't bother, it won't work.
When Bella was about 6 months old and nearly fully grown (in case you ever wondered, you CAN sit and watch a Great Dane grow. You can even blink, you won't miss it) she learned to open the fridge, and just about any other door you can imagine. I used to take her to work with me, and the Schwanns man stops by my work twice a month. I would, of course, store whatever food items I bought in the freezer in the break room, which also contained the futon Bella slept on.
I forgot Rule Number One and Rule Number Two: Whats Yours is Mine and All Boxes Contain Food.
One day I went back into the break room to get the food out to take home with me, only to be greeted with 4 frozen pizza boxes on the floor. Minus the frozen pizza part. Bella had opened the freezer and eaten every single large pizza. At $8 each, this was no cheap snack.
Thus began the quest to find a childproof lock for the fridge and freezer....or 10 of them, as the case would be.
I tried them all. The ones that stuck to the fridge and snapped shut. The ones that glued to the fridge and had little knobs that locked the two pieces together for especially bright children. I even tried screwing them to the fridge once. None of them worked in the least, Bella could get them all open. In fact it got so bad that we had to ENCOURAGE her to open the fridge for us since some of those blasted locks required a freaking college degree to open.
I think I just insulted my college degree...
I finally gave up and spent $900 on a brand new side by side fridge figuring that if she figured that one out, at least I could padlock the doors shut with a thick chain.
This worked out fine until the day I came home to water all over the kitchen floor. I freaked out, thinking the fridge icemaker was malfunctioning and was about to run to Sears and have a hissy about my brand new malfunctioning fridge when I remembered the malfunctioning dinosaur sleeping peacefully in the other room. I fed the dogs, knowing Bella would be thirsty after eating and sure enough, she gobbled down her food, glanced at the full water bowl on the floor with disdain and helped herself to a heap of ice cubes from the icemaker in the door.
That's when I discovered my very first, truly Dinosaur Proof button....the little "lock" button on the icemaker. Thank god for those fridge designers who consider those of us with malfunctioning dinosaurs in our homes.
My food pantry, garbage can holder, and every single drawer and door in my kitchen has childproof locks on them. Most of the commercial ones don't work at all. The giant slabs of 2 x 4 drilled into the wall that slides across the door is holding up for the moment. Looks awesome with my decor too.
By the way, defrosting hamburger for dinner? The ceiling fan isn't high enough.
4) Dinosaurs Have Large Feet For A Reason
Dinosaurs have large feet to help them forage for food, as well as to warn other mammals of their foreboding size and strength.
Bella has no idea she's...large. She can curl herself up into absurdly small balls when she wants to. One time I bought this cute little kids sleeping cushion that folded up into a miniature "couch" for the corgi to sleep on. He loved it, until Bella enforced Rule Number One and decided that she fit into it too. Surprisingly enough, she made herself fit, although for some reason the couch is now decidedly flat.
She has a hard time sometimes figuring out what to do with her long legs and feet when she isn't in her hedgehog mode. This is the position I refer to as "Fold Your Own Dinosaur". A picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go...
Sometimes she will be dreaming she is running and kick herself, with her back feet, smack in the nose. I admit, I laugh. It's payback for the $500 worth of food she's eaten in the last...month.
She gets her revenge though, every morning at around 5 am when she decides it's time to go outside. Being I am deaf, she cannot bark to wake me up, so she uses what she has and hits me with her ginormous paws, smack in the face. Repeatedly. When Bella wants something, she wants it RIGHT NOW. Not one second from now, no, RIGHT NOW, and she will hit you, over and over until you give her what she wants. So at 5 am when I'm sound asleep and my Great Dane Dinosaur wakes me up by slamming her huge feet into my face with crushing force to wake me up, trust me, I wake up, and fast, before she has a chance to repeat the reminder. Dinosaurs do not come equipped with snooze buttons.
5) Never, Ever Drink the Water in the Bowl
Dinosaurs require a very specific water source. Be sure you can provide for this need before you bring one home.
Bella hates to drink from a bowl. Once she became big enough (about 6 weeks after she was born, I swear...) for her head to reach the counter, she discovered that fresh water comes out of the faucets in the sink. Ever since, I have been unable to get her to drink out of a bowl unless there is no faucet anywhere in sight. I used to think it was a matter of freshness, but even a freshly filled bowl is not good enough, she wants water from the faucet. So a few times a day, I dutifully, being the Alpha in this household and all, turn on the faucet for my dog to drink.
She's got me well trained too. She applies Rule Number Four to help inform me when she would like a drink, slamming her paws into my face/lap/whatever body part happens to be available until I get up and give her a drink. I tried training this out of her and forcing her to drink from the bowl, but I got tired of people asking me if my at-the-time-husband was abusing me and gave in.
At thanksgiving, I stayed at my parents house to house-sit for their parrot (whom deserves an entire post of his own) and their dog. The counters at my parents house are normal height, but the sinks are set far back into the counter. Bella was very upset about this. She couldn't quite reach the faucet to drink. I tried filling the sink up for her to drink out of, but NO, she wanted to drink it as it was pouring out into the sink. After much pacing, whining, staring at the sink, sulking, moping, dramatic-dying-reenactments, I finally took her home and suggested to my dad that when he remodeled the bathroom, he really should keep the Great Dane Dinosaur in mind and put the sinks at proper drinking level. Geez, what kind of grandfather doesn't put the sinks at proper Dinosaur drinking level anyhow??
So there you have it, how to train your dinosaur. I'm sure Great Dane Dinosaur lovers everywhere are rejoicing at this helpful never-before-published guide.
Tips are appreciated. The monetary kind. I'm well aware my dog is out of control. I'm still paying off the fridge.
By Seri Dukart - Groomer