One of the very many questions/statements I get asked/given is about the exercise requirements of Great Danes.
For some reason, people seem to think the bigger they are the more exercise they need. Granted they used to be carriage dogs (used to pull carriages) however I think they are similar to people in that they adjust to their current environment.
My personal preference is to exercise them every day for at least 45 minutes, sometimes going up to several hours but this depends on what we are doing and the weather.
If the weather is particularly hot, I won't go anymore than a mile or two at jogging pace or less without planning a water stop or shaded break for them, especially the dark haired ones. I know when they are getting particularly hot and bothered because they are very heavy panting, have frothy saliva around their mouth and veins popping out their head.
If they are hanging back this could be that they have found something of interest to sniff at or are tired. I will gently call them over so they do not react out of fear as obviously I don't want to push them too hard.
If they carry on at the same pace as before then I know they are ok, but if they start hanging back and not sniffing things then I know to slow down or stop.
If it is a particularly hot day, I will hose them down before we go. I have to be careful if I decide to water them down while outside because a spray with a water bottle is a punishment so I talk in high pitched tones while gently spraying their body and not their head. Most dogs, especially mine equate high pitch voice as good news and keeping the water off their head or face should be perceived as non punishment.
There was a time when I was taking them out for 5 miles, twice a day and we all got very fit which was beneficial to one of my Dams when she was whelping. She retained a puppy and it nearly killed her. The vet said that her fitness paid a large part in surviving the ordeal and reduced recovery time.
I can usually tell when my Great Danes are getting a bit stir crazy as they start to play flight in the house, seek more attention from the people in it and if that doesn't work then historically they have eaten the remote controls.
If I find that I am running a bit short of time and have to lever the exercise into my day, then I take my 2 Great Danes to the local farmers open field and let them play fight in there first and then jog around the rest of our route. This gets them to burn off their excess energy and makes them even more tired after our route.
I definitely notice a direct link between their hearing ability and time from last exercise. If I miss a day of walking my Danes then I see a difference in their obedience levels and it is only my previous discipline track record that keeps them obedient.
There is a lot of hype about bloat, eating, drinking and exercise. The most extreme practice I have read is not to let them eat or drink several hours before or after exercise, which is neither proven or practical, certainly not for our lifestyles. I can only say that if I catch them, I don't let them have anything big to eat before going out for a run but let them do whatever when we come back and never had a problem. I have used this approach with 6 Great Danes I have owned and all have been bloat free.