The Dalmatian is a large and energetic breed with plenty of stamina and intelligence. The working background and typical jobs assigned to this ancient breed are versatile, ranging from hunting tasks through war and guard duties to circus performance, but they are best known for their historical role as a carriage dog and a firehouse dog.
This task required the dalmatian to be able to run alongside a horse-drawn carriage, often for a long distance. Their role was mostly to guard the carriage and the horses both on the road and in the stables, and to deter intruders. They were also a status symbol for the wealthier travellers.
Apart from their physical stamina and love of running, Dalmatians tend to also be highly trainable and intelligent. Their striking coat markings and generally friendly, affectionate, silly and playful nature makes them a popular choice as pets. They are also known as good watchdogs, however the other side of this coin may in some cases present as being over-sensitive, reactive, distrustful or prone to resource guarding.
Dalmatians require a relatively high level of physical and mental stimulation and as with other energetic breeds, they can become frustrated or depressed if those needs are not fulfilled. Proactive and appropriate puppy socialisation in the sensitive period between 3 and 12 weeks is one of the two best investments you will make in your dog’s future. The other one is teaching your Dal the specific life skills he needs to navigate the weird human world and building a trust-based relationship with your dog.
Dalmatians have been misunderstood in the past and labelled as not intelligent, until it was discovered that many are deaf. The predisposition for deafness is genetic and linked to the presence or absence of melanin (dark pigment). However deafness doesn’t preclude the dal from being a wonderful pet, so long as the training and management is tailored to the specific needs of the dog.
This breed were bred to run so its important that your life style can fit in with this energetic breed. You can buy treadmills that are fitted for dogs in order to give your Dalmatian extra physical exercise indoors.
It may be useful to invest in treat balls and interactive toys to keep your Dalmatian stimulated when alone as when bored and left they can become destructive. Because of this crate training may also prevent the dog from performing the destructive behaviour when left.
Its important to socialize with a variety of dogs on and off lead as they can be known to show aggressive behaviour. When socializing pay attention to what signals your dog is showing, whether they are finding the socialization a positive or negative experience. As the more negative experiences with dogs can then transfer to each meeting situation.
Dalmatians shed all year round so be prepared to have white hairs all over your clothes.
This is an intelligent breed so obedience and trick training can help them stay stimulated and is great for bonding. It's important to practice these behaviours in different places in order to generalize the behaviour and mostly around distractions.
They can be seen to get attached easily so it is useful to teach them from a young age to relax when alone in order to reduce any over dependency. Dog Day care may be an option for getting your dog out of the house and building confidence by its self.
Due to their energetic personalities, they may be too much for small children, they can typically jump and will feed off of people with high energy such as kids. If kids are in the household, it may be useful to keep meetings calm and short to begin with.
Lead walking training is crucial as they can typically pull. Consistency is the most important factor when teaching a dog to walk nicely on a lead, so if more than than one family member is walking the dog it's beneficial for everyone to be following the same guidelines.
This breed can also be stubborn so when training it is important to be consistent and confident. Make sure to have high value rewards to begin with and break criteria down into small steps to build up encouragement.
A whistle may be useful when training recall as when off the lead Dalmatians love to run. When using a whistle make sure to pair the noise with a treat for lots of repetitions before using it out and start with short distances building up the distractions.