Just so you know, this post is mostly an excuse to show off some photos of my big Gussy, but I did want to also share some observations about Gus' puppyhood compared to Taz, because so far they have been very different puppies. I have been asked if Taz is helping to get all of Gus' wiggles out, but really I think Taz is still more wiggly than Gus, even though she is 2.5 years old now. She is often the one barking at him to come and play, and she can still get him on the ground if she runs at him side on!
A rare view of Gus with his mouth shut
Here is a list of observations and comparisons between Gus the Great Dane/Bull Arab/Big dog and Taz the Kelpie/Collie/Working dog (they are generalisations which may not apply to other dogs, just what I have seen so far).
Taz really benefited from her puppy box and we used it until she was 1 year old. With Gus we only used it for a few months. At night he started to hop onto Taz' bed, so we stopped putting him in the box, and then when he was big enough to not sneak under the gate, we let him out all day (but with chickens locked up). He seems far better at calming himself and happily sleeps all day.
Gus has hardly chewed anything. Although he does take Pete's thongs (flipflops/jandles, not undies) if they are left outside. He doesn't chew them, just hides them. So far everything else has been safe, which has been a nice change compared to Taz the collector of all loose shoes, gloves and sunglasses.
Gus took a long time to learn not to wee or poo on the veranda. It got to the point where I had to take him down onto the grass every night before I went to bed and encourage toilet stops, otherwise he just sneaked behind the table. He seems ok with that now (we never had that trouble with Taz).
Gus eats SO MUCH FOOD! We hope it will slow down where he stops growing. His weight has increased from 7.5 kg when he first came home to over 30kg. It took us a few days to realise that he was hungry in the afternoon. Since then he now has breakfast and an afternoon snack. We just keep putting food in his dish until he is full, I don't want a stunted big dog! And if he's allowed to get too hungry he helps himself (or Taz helps, we're not sure, but it took two dead chickens to figure out that feeding Gus in the afternoon is number one priority before we let the chickens out).
The front clip harness has been the best investment! Gus can walk next to me without pulling, even though he is stronger than me now, anytime he tries to run ahead the harness pulls him around, so he doesn't bother anymore. I haven't tried the front clip on Taz yet, she has just figured out how to 'come behind' and walk behind us, so its a joy to walk them both calmy at my pace, instead of being towed down the road. - see video below
Working dogs have a heap of nervous energy, and they need to be taught to be calm, but big dogs seem pretty chilled out already and just need consistent discipline and a big bed.
What do you think? Have you raised a big dog or a working dog puppy? Any tips to share?