Training Dalmatians


General Training

The Dalmatian breed is intelligent, but not always obedient. They do learn easily, but sometimes it is something that you don't want him to learn. Kindergarten classes for your pup (10-16 weeks of age) and obedience classes are highly recommended. Gone should be the days of yank and pull. Incentive training is far better and far more humane. Dalmatians do much better with an incentive rather than with force. They are stronger than we are, so we must be smarter!


Crate Training

Crate training is quite useful when you have a puppy. Even adults that need to be confined will learn to accept the crate as their own place. It is useful for preventing bad habits, protecting the dog from his environment, and for giving him comfort. Always make the crate a positive experience (i.e., give him a Milkbone whenever he is put in), and just don't overuse it. Four to five hours in a crate is the maximum at one time. Remember, extensive crate time means more exercise to help burn off stored up energy!


Obedience


Collars and Leads

I used to recommend prong or pinch collars for strong or untrained Dalmatians, but I find the Gentle Leader head collar to be superior at controlling the dog. It was developed by Dr. R. K. Anderson, DVM, and Ruth E. Foster, Past President of the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors. They used their understanding of the management of horses, cattle and sheep with halters, and adapted that successful tool to dogs. The Gentle Leader gives the handler absolute control of an active, headstrong, or aggressive dog with minimal effort and without hurting the dog in any way. There is a nice web site describing the Gentle Leader, including purchasing information. Your dog probably won't like his Gentle Leader at first, so expect to see some pawing and rolling on the ground because they are not used to having their head confined. Never fear, however, they will quickly adapt. It is the leverage needed to make walking your Dal enjoyable for everyone.

When you walk your dog, it is wise to remember that normally a dog trots wherever he goes. He rarely walks. But we don't normally walk fast enough for our dogs to trot while on leash. So, by giving your dog much more length of leash (i.e., the retractable kind)  the dog can trot ahead of the owner and actually get some exercise. Heeling is for busy street maneuvers but it does nothing for the dogs energy level. Heeling is a very physically frustrating exercise, because he is moving much slower than he would naturally.

If your aim is to exercise your dog, remember that he needs to trot out! You either need to move faster (power walk or jog) or give him a much longer leash. If your dog is controllable (with a Gentle Leader, prong collar, etc., if necessary) then you can allow him that extra length of leash for his physical exercise and your own enjoyment. If you are lucky to have a Dal that walks mannerly at all times, you won't need any aid. But if you have a "normal" Dal, he will want to get on with the walk and you just don't keep up. It's not that this breed is truly bad on the leash; they just have places to go, things to do and see and smell, and we just can't keep up with them. With proper leverage, both of you can enjoy your walk and your Dal will actually be tired from the excursion rather than physically frustrated because you couldn't allow him to trot on!