My Training

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Trying out agility!

Trying out agility!

My human, Hsin-Yi, loves doing training with me so I am always busy doing lots of things, which is great because we dogs really love to “work” and have a job to do.

So many of us dogs do naughty things and have behaviour problems because we are bored and our humans don’t let us use our energy in the right ways.

We also love training because we get to spend time with our humans doing interesting things together and that really makes us trust our humans more – it also teaches us in a nice way that our humans are always the boss! :-)


Me and my trophy for Best Canine Freestyle Routine

Me and my trophy for Best Canine Freestyle Routine

People are always telling Hsin-Yi that Great Danes are too stupid, big, slow and lazy to do any fancy training but that’s so not true! We just take a little bit longer to learn things and we do things a bit slower – but we can do anything if you put in the time, effort and patience to train us! :)





Look at all the things I have managed to do:





Me at 8 weeks…

Correct socialisation is one of the most important things that humans can do to help us become happy, confident dogs. Puppies have a critical imprinting period between 7 to 14 weeks when we need to be introduced to lots of new places, people, animals, sounds and other new things in a positive, non-threatening way – so that we can grow into confident, balanced adult dogs. If we do react fearfully to something, it is really important for our humans not to make a big fuss, pick up, pat or reassure us – this just rewards us for being frightened and convinces us that there really IS something to be scared of! We take our cues from our humans so if our humans act calm and matter-of-fact and ignore “scary things” – then we learn to cope with them too.

For more information about important transition periods in a puppy’s growth, visit:


My humans spent a lot of time as soon as I arrived home, taking me to lots of different places to experience many strange sights and sounds, and meet lots of different people and animals. They didn’t want to waste my important socialisation period so they carried me (all 10kg!) around before my vaccinations were complete. They took me into the city to get used to crowds, noisy traffic, construction work and flashing lights; to schools and playgrounds to get used to screaming babies and running children; to the beach and even to a farm, to meet cows, chickens, sheep and other animals! And of course, I also had lots of socialisation with different kinds and sizes of dogs…


Me socialising with other puppies at the Puppy Play Centre

Me socialising with other puppies at Puppy Preschool


Me socialising with other puppies at Puppy PreSchool



Meeting a chicken…

Even if we have experienced a lot as puppies, it’s really important to continue our socialisation all through our life – although I’m all grown up now, my humans still keep taking me to new places from time to time, so that I keep learning and adapting to strange things.





Puppy Class

Paul teaching me to SIT in my 1st week...

Paul teaching me to SIT in my 1st week…

Ask any mother dog: it’s never too early to start training a puppy! Lots of humans think that puppies have to be several months old before they can learn basic obedience but you can start teaching us from Day 1 when we arrive in our new homes! In fact, the sooner you show us the rules and stick to them, the happier and more secure we will feel. It’s really confusing for us dogs when you let us climb up on the sofa or jump up on you in our first week – and then tell us off when we try to do the same thing a month later, just because we’re bigger now or have muddy paws!

Puppy classes at vets are a great place to start our canine education: there we can learn to interact nicely with other puppies, learn not to play too rough and also learn to behave politely with other humans in the class. We also start learning Human Words, which is really important to help us – no puppy wants to remain stupid! Although we might not do it really well yet, we’re still really keen to start learning the basic commands, like Sit and Come.

Here are some pictures of me at Puppy Class, at The Vets, Greenwoods Corner, Auckland:

Me at Puppy Class!

Me at Puppy Class!


Playing with other puppies in Puppy Class…


Learning to SIT at Puppy Class…


Learning to COME at Puppy Class…


Learning to walk nicely at Puppy Class…


Basic Obedience

Once we finish Puppy Class, it’s really important for us to go onto “proper dog school” and join a basic obedience dog training class.  A lot of humans think that just taking their dogs to Puppy Class is enough – but that’s like Humans only going to kindergarten! They wouldn’t have learnt to read & write or any of the other skills they need in the adult world. So we dogs also need to learn more too, especially to live in the complicated human world.

Me at training class...

Me at training class…



At training class, we learn the manners that help us become good family pets and the training also helps us bond with our humans more. Often we are starting to enter “canine adolescence”, when we don’t always want to listen to our humans because we are getting big and strong now – and there are so many exciting things to explore in the world! But training class reminds us that humans are our pack leaders and helps us to understand how humans expect us to behave.



Good girl!

“Good girl!”

It is really important to choose a class which uses positive, reward-based training methods, though, because we dogs learn much faster when we get rewarded for good behaviour – like with yummy treats, a pat or even just lots of happy words and attention from our human! We dogs love these things and we will work hard to get them.

If you just punish us and correct us for doing the wrong thing, without also showing us the right thing to do and praising us for doing it, then we get really scared and confused and some of us get grumpy and start growling and biting our humans, which is very bad! :(




Seeing A Private Dog Trainer (my naughty time…)


Me at 8 months – the naughty ‘teenage’ time!

When I got to about 8 months, I became very naughty and started pulling on my lead all the time and especially if I saw another dog, I would get very excited and try to drag my humans over, so I could say hello. I was even expelled from my training class because of my behaviour! :( This made my humans very upset and stressy – and it also made other humans and dogs scared of me, because I looked completely out-of-control. And it made me feel very frustrated because I couldn’t get to what I wanted. A lot of young dogs go through this “naughty time” and it’s really important that our humans take us to see a good, experienced private dog trainer to help teach us how to behave. Otherwise, we might get more and more frustrated and eventually become aggressive (oh no!) :(

Me and Flip...

Me and Flip…

My humans took me to see a VERY good trainer called Flip Calkoen at Flip’s Top Dog (Ellerslie Racecourse Stables, Auckland, NZ, 09-5221228). Hsin-Yi didn’t want to go at first because she felt ashamed for “failing” to teach me to behave, after all the socialisation and training she did with me – but sometimes you need a professional to guide you (especially if you’re a first-time dog owner!) and show you the correct training techniques. Otherwise, it is very confusing listening to all the different advice from other dog owners, who may all be talking total rubbish!

Hsin-Yi really got her confidence back – now she is SO glad that we went to see Flip: with his help, I have become a wonderful, well-behaved dog and Hsin-Yi can take me everywhere and enjoy doing lots of things with me, which means that I have a better quality of life too! :)


The Kennel Club – Canine Good Citizen Award

Once I finished my basic obedience, Hsin-Yi and I did more training practice, and I got The Kennel Club – Canine Good Citizen Scheme GOLD Award! I am the first Great Dane in New Zealand to achieve this high level of award! :)


“The Canine Good Citizien (CGC) scheme is a certification program that tests dogs to ensure that they are trained and conditioned to act mannerly in the home, allowable in public places and in the presence of other dogs. It identifies and rewards dogs that have the training and demeanour to be reliable family members, as well as a respected member of the community.”

Me doing the 'Temperament Test'...

Me doing the ‘Temperament Test’…

There are 4 levels of the CGC: Basic, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Lots of dogs manage to get through Basic and Bronze but not many make it through Silver and very few get through Gold, which is the hardest level and includes exercises like:

  • Temperament Test: handling by strangers
  • Food manners
  • Drop-on-Command when running (‘Emergency Down’)
  • Walking in a controlled manner through distractions like joggers, crowds, loud noises and children.
  • Recall – into front position and into Heel position
  • Sit-Stays & Down-Stays: 5 min Out-of-Sight
  • Control around other dogs
  • Send away
  • Retrieving an article
  • Polite behaviour on stairs and through doorways
  • Car manners: entering/leaving and travelling

Here is my human, Paul, teaching me the Send Away:



Continuing my training…

Even when we have done a lot, it is good for us dogs to continue our training all our lives – this keeps us from getting bored and learning bad habits and also keeps reminding us that our humans are the pack leaders! We dogs LOVE to “work” and do training and use our brains. It’s also nice for our humans to keep finding new ways to do fun things with us – spending time with us, doing things with us, is much, much better than any expensive toys, treats, beds, clothes or other things you could get us!!


When we lived in Auckland, my humans used to take me to 6-weekly Refresher Classes at Flips Top Dog, where we try out lots of different training activities each time, such as Rally-O, town training, beach training, park training, Ian Dunbar’s K9 Games…it was all fantastic fun!

Learning the Retrieve

Learning to Retrieve the Dumbell

Hsin-Yi is also helping me work towards an Obedience title – for this, I have to learn more advanced obedience exercises, like bringing back the correct Scent Cloth and doing a formal Obedience Retrieve with a dumbbell.




Here is a video of me practising some Obedience exercises:


And here is a video of the 1st time I mastered the Retrieve!

I have also tried out Agility ( click here to see my Agility videos!) – and Rally-O (click here to see me having fun at Rally-O!)

Even though I am now very well-behaved and know many commands & training exercises, my humans like to continue taking me to training classes, to continually challenge me with new environments, dogs & distractions and to keep up my training. We love the social side of classes – it’s a great way to make new friends! It is also a nice way for my humans to spend a set time with me each week. Aside from classes, Hsin-Yi tries to do 5-10 minutes training in the middle of my daily walks, during the week – short, regular sessions are the best!

When we lived in Brisbane, I went to classes at the Brisbane RSPCA Animal Training Centre and I am also a member of the Metropolitan Dog Obedience Club, as well as the Queensland ‘Dances with Dogs’ Club.

When we moved to Sydney, my human checked out the fun doggie training classes & activities available in our area…even though I am a senior doggie now, I still love learning new things and challenging my 3 brains cells (hee! hee! ;-) – hey, a healthy mind leads to a healthy body and keeping me mentally active helps me to stay young in body & spirit too! ) – so I love all the things my human does to keep my life full & exciting! :P


For more videos of me training, check out the Clicker & General Training Videos page


Canine Freestyle

Performing a canine freestyle routine...

Dancing with Hsin-Yi

I also do some doggie dancing! :D This is when Hsin-Yi uses clicker training to teach me lots of fun tricks and moves – and then puts them to this special noise called “music” so that we can dance around together. It is fantastic fun and I love it – in fact, Hsin-Yi says I’m probably the first Great Dane to compete in Canine Freestyle!

For more info, pictures and videos on my dancing adventures, visit my Canine Freestyle page.


27 Responses to My Training

  1. Wow Honey you and your Mum are SO CLEVER and very inspiring! We didn't realise there were so many different things you could do and now we want to try some of that stuff for ourselves!

  2. Jamie says:

    Hello Honey,
    I have a question for you and your mommy. I just got a beautiful fawn male great dane. He is extremly attached to me already and hates going into his crate at night. He crys at the top of his lungs for hours at a time, but i do not let him out because he needs to learn that his crate is his safe place, (atleast until he is potty trained.) So how do I get him to stop? Please email me back, your mommy sounds like she is a very intelligent dog owner who could probably give me a few pointers.
    Thanks so much!

  3. Gotta say there's nothing slow and stupid about a Dane! They just reserve the right to decide if they should do the same trick over and over obsessively. Kenai has this "yeah, got that what's new" sort of attitude! Too smart!
    BTW to critics of these noble giants, There's a good reason that a 130-200 pound dog has been bred to be calm natured. We don't want a 200 pounder hunting in the neighborhood…
    The big girls and boys learn VERY fast,and in 37 years wit Danes I have yet to have even an ordinary Dane that didn't hit the "genius" level on the various canine IQ tests… so much for dumb!
    Kenai the Great Dane service dog in training says he thinks Honey is a hottie… He looked at all her pics! What a pretty girl, and a good girl too.

  4. Kirsty and Mozzie says:

    Hi Honey,

    It's great to see that you and Hsin-Yi are doing more and more great things together. You are truly an inspriration to us all

  5. Ida Nilsson says:

    Hi, this is Ida and Always on my mind, from sweden… Always on my mind is a 1year old fawn female Great Dane. We just wanted to say that we enjoyed seeing you dance on you tube, and we have to start traning so we can have one dancing Great Dane in sweden to. You 2 are inspiration….Thanks!/ Ida And Always on my mind

  6. Bob Sisson says:

    I learned so much from your videos. Karma ( black 3 yo ) has earned her CGC and RN titles, Fergus ( 1 yo fawn) has earned his first leg for his RN.
    They start Agility next week, so finding your site was great.
    Thanks for a great site.

  7. Harley says:

    Honey – thank you so much for telling the story about pulling on your leash when you were an adolescent. My human has been so upset because that is what I do, too. I am a 13 mo old mastiff and so she often ends up on her belly being pulled behind me as I try to go visit other dogs and people. She is getting me a teacher and coach to help her so that I can go on walks again! She was happy to see such a well behaved and smart dog as you, wasn't born perfect and had a rough adolescent time, too, like me.

  8. Erin says:

    Hi honey! Its great to see you and your human have such an amazing bond, and that you respect all her rules! I have 2 dogs myself (both working Kelpies, although there not the greatest city dogs :D) and planning on buying a dane once i have left school (so im able to train him/her in my spare time!) There are a few questions have though, regarding the puppy basics, Were you a big nipper when you were a puppy, and how long was it before you learnt not to nip humans, Also, were you a 'puller' on the lead other than that adolescent time? The last thing i want is a huge dane pulling me, whos only 5,2 along the street!
    Much appreciated if you have time to reply from your busy scedule of fun and games!
    Much love, Erin

  9. Kimba says:


    I love your city! Sports, games, schools… for doggies! Mom and I are very happy that your humans give you the opportunity to experience all those good things that your city offers.
    They are great parents and I'm sure you're a great daughter too.

    Love, Kimba.

  10. Ute Neumair says:

    Hi Honey,

    my English is not that good but I try it anyhow. I really have to say that we enjoyed your website. Me (Great Dane Male unfixed 6,5 years old named Askan) and my mommy Ute. We were trying dogdancing as well but my mummy is only 1,52 meter tall (short ;-) and so we can not do a few things you did. Also I think, I'am not gentle enough sometimes with my mummy. I hope we can see more from you and your mummy.
    Tell your mummy that we really respect the work she is doing together with you.

    Love Askan

  11. beckilee says:

    hi! my name is beckilee,19 im from savannah georgia in usa! you have a beautiful grate dane! and shes such a beautiful size and structure especially for a female! i am truely amazed at how well behaved she is to! all my life ive had dogs, and we taught them basics ourselves, and last year i talked my dad into letting me get a purebred great dane for the first time, i now terribly regret not getting him trained. he just grew up so fast and little thins like jumpin and begging that seemed so cute then are now driving us crazy! so if any body on here is thinking about getting a great dane MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE MONEY TO HAVE HIM TRAINED FIRST!!! believe me!

  12. Dana McBain says:

    Hello there, I am traaning my Charlie who is one and his breed is a Great Pyrenees. I have a clicker and love your videos but I also want a book on the subject. The kids and I watch Honey and always feel inspired to train our big guy too. He is loving it.

    Is there a book you can recommend? Thank you for posting all this great information, I will continue to search your site.

  13. ciklonbill says:

    Lovely! She is very smart… :)

  14. Xiang & Zouk says:

    I hope Zouk my 11month old great dane can be like Honey one day too! Honey is simply fAntAstiCa!

  15. Training your dog utilizing positive reinforcement training is a fantastic way to work with your dog. Fast, easy, and safe. What could be better!

  16. jane smith says:

    We are about to get a three month old great dane and I wondered what we should do to punish the dog when she does wrong in training but I noticed that it says we should NOT punish the dogs hard or yell at them. So then in conclusion of this message, how should you give consequence to such wonderful animals?

    • bighoneydog says:

      There are other ways to ‘correct’ behaviour than just yelling at a dog or beating it – I just did a blog post which talks about how to use corrections: – you can read about it there.

      These ‘static’ pages are not updated often – if you follow Honey’s blog, I update that regularly with a lot of dog training, socialisation & behaviour information. YOu can see the most recent posts at the top of the sidebar on the right.

  17. akhila says:

    Hey… honey I live in India I have a same great dane like you I wanna train like your mum has trained you it but it became to naughty to train but like you so much


  18. carol says:

    i love the way ur trained!!!!

  19. cherry says:

    I am starting to get rained by my owner who is only a teenager, I just turned 5 years old and my human is now determined to train me and prove that you can teach a dog at any age

  20. Abby says:

    Hi Honey,
    I am a black and white great dane x mastiff and I am now 5 months old. My owner took me to puppy pre school and we have been training at home too, but I am still a bit naughty. My owner is now taking me to a proper one on one training session with a really good trainer/animal behaviourist next week. We are really looking forward to it.
    My owner wanted to say a HUGE thank you to Hsin Yi for having such wonderful information and links on your website, it has really helped her train me.

    Thanx and slobbers
    Abby :)

  21. Rachel says:

    Hi Honey, I have a question

    A couple years ago we adopted a four year old Mix from down in in the southern US and for the whole time we’ve had her, she barks.
    She barks at nothing and half the time it’s not even to get us to let her in.
    We’ve tried a shock collar and it helped for like a week before she started ignoring it on it’s highest level.
    (We’d tried everything else before we went to get the collar)
    But now we’ve kind of just given in and let her in when she barks.
    She’s learned that if she barks enough she’ll get to go inside and it’s maddening.
    We let her out and wait around the door for a couple minutes to see if she barks.
    It’s time consuming and frustrating.
    I’ve even looked up De-barking.
    Do have any idea why she’s having such an issue with this?

  22. vishakha says:

    hey honey you are very good i hope my great dane tiny would be like you but he is not obedient so if you have any suggestion then please help:)

  23. Camille says:

    hey honey my great dane loves your videos she even got a bean bag bed!

  24. Camille says:

    hey honey my great dane also mastered the retrieve

  25. Marina Galhardo says:

    No dia 4 (Dia dos Animais) homenageei os animais c/ seu vídeo de integração de seu novo gatinho c/ seu cão. Adorei!
    Também tenho um blog de animais aqui no Brasil

  26. sarah says:

    How did you house train her so no accidents in home?

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