Our Gentle Giants

The story of two Floridians and their foster Great Danes



August 25th, 2014

7 things you need before bringing home your first foster dog

By Tara

I’m so excited about living with my first Great Dane! 37 days until I’m available to take a foster Dane (but who’s really counting?)

I need to get prepared, though. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s only little of Roxie’s stuff that I could use for a Dane and that’s only if the Dane is a puppy. I’m expecting to mostly get teenage or adult Great Danes so they’ll already be larger and more powerful than a puppy. Which means Roxie’s toys, leashes, collars, and bowls aren’t going to cut it.

So what do I need at the very least?

1) A collar

Not sure if the rescue will provide a collar and leash, but I would be more than happy to supply one. For Roxie, we use a collar to hold her tags and a harness when we want to put her on a leash. I think I’d like to do that with the Dane, too. I feel like I have more control over the dog if the leash is attached to their harness.

As far as the collar goes, I think I might DIY one.┬áThere are so many great tutorials on Pinterest. One is as simple as cutting up a belt and looping it around the dog’s neck.

2) A leash

For Roxie, we have a retractable leash. I don’t want to use a retractable leash for a dog that I’m unfamiliar with. Furthermore, to get a retractable leash that won’t snap if a 150 pound dog pulls on it can be expensive.

I recently discovered double handle leashes.

I saw one being used at the first Great Dane Love Petco event I went to and it looked like the person holding the leash had much more physical control over the dog than a person with a traditional leash or a retractable leash. Definitely going to get one of these. I could DIY it, but I’m afraid that it won’t be strong enough (even if I sew it with a sewing machine).

3) A harness

Like I said above, I want a harness on the dog whenever we need to leash him. I have found a tutorial on how to make a harness, but like the leash, I want to be 100% sure that it will be strong enough.

There are a lot of different types of harnesses, so I’ll do a separate post on that.

4) A bed

Dog beds can be super expensive, and a bed for a gentle giant is even more so. I like Kuranda style beds for giant dogs (as I said a million times in this post) but after moving costs, I’m not sure if we can afford to get a “real” dog bed. Instead, we are going to buy a crib mattress! Apparently, this is a great alternative for large dogs. I’m a part of a few “yard sale” groups on Facebook, so all I have to do is keep my eye out for gently used crib mattresses.

5) A crate

I definitely want to crate the Dane while we’re out. This is a strange dog and we won’t know what he’ll do while we’re away! Plus, we want to make sure he’s crate trained so if his forever home chooses to crate him, he’ll be prepared for it.

Extra large crates can be $100+, which is something Christian and I can’t afford at this time. Thankfully, our rescue Great Dane Love will provide a crate if we don’t have/can’t get one. At least that’s what their website says. I should probably email someone and double check.

6) Elevated dog feeder and food bowls

Elevated dog feeders are a necessity for large dogs to prevent bloat and other digestive issues. I’d like to invest in a nice one down the road, but I have some nicely-stained pallet wood that I can make a elevated feeder out of. What I’ll do is make a step stool like thing with short “walls” on the top to keep the bowls from falling off (imagine a tray put on top of a step stool). I have some leftover vinyl from a previous project which I’ll use as a “cover” so the wood doesn’t get wet and moldy.

I’d like to get a stainless steel bowl for food. It’s easier to clean (which we’ll need to do often since the dog will be significantly more drooly than Roxie (who actually never drools)) and won’t absorb water and bacteria. I also hear it can prevent facial acne, which is common among Great Danes.

7) Toys!

The poor dude needs something to play with, right? I can’t really DIY many toys since this guy will be more powerful than a puppy. I’ll do a separate post about extra durable dog toys.

Final thoughts

Those are the basics that I can think of for the time being. I posted a question about toys on a Facebook group about Great Danes and someone came up with a few things that could definitely make my time with a gentle giant easier. Lots of great tips; I’ll share those with you later.

Any Dane owners out there who can share some advice or thoughts about essentials? I’d love to hear them!