If you’re a keen runner you’ll want to know whether your Dalmatian or future Dalmatian will make a good running partner. These dogs are known for their love of exercise, but how suitable they are to join you on a run isn’t so obvious.
This article has everything you need to know about running with a Dalmatian. Let’s get into it!
Do Dalmatians Make Good Running Partners?
Yes! Dalmatians make ideal running partners and are capable of running consistently over long distances. Running is in fact a Dalmatians forte and they have an extensive history when it comes to this simple, yet demanding form of exercise.
This doesn’t mean it will all be plain sailing, however. Although Dalmatians LOVE to run, it will still be necessary to train him to have proper leash obedience, as well as slowly building up his stamina and muscle endurance.
When Can You Start Running With a Dalmatian?
It’s crucial that your Dalmatian only starts running with you once they have reached full physical maturity at around 16-24 months old. Running is a surprisingly strenuous exercise, and putting too much strain on your puppy’s body will likely result in both short and long-term injury.
Particular health issues like Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) are common among puppies that are overexercised. This is a very painful condition that can take a long time to heal.
While your Dalmatian is growing, his joints, bones, and muscles will be fragile, which is why puppies should follow a set exercise routine to avoid injury.
How Far Can a Dalmatian Run?
Healthy adult Dalmatians can handle runs of 5-10 miles pretty easily. For Dalmatians that don’t have much experience, it’s advised to stick to runs 5 miles and under.
A long time ago when Dalmatians were used primarily as working dogs, they would be required to run distances equivalent to a marathon in a single go. So there’s no doubt that this breed can handle some pretty far distances.
If you want to run more than 10 miles with your Dalmatian, it’s crucial to build their strength and stamina up slowly over the course of 1-2 years. In most cases, veterinarians will not recommend these kinds of distances, in order to preserve their joints.
Why Dalmatians Are Great Runners
So why do Dalmatians deserve so much praise when it comes to running?
Well, running was pretty much their “role” or “job” for the majority of their history. After being used as hunting dogs for centuries, Dalmatians became better known as “carriage dogs” in which they would trot and run alongside horse and carriages for miles on end.
Shortly after, due to their ability to get along well with horses combined with their incredible stamina, they were then used by the old firehouses. The Dals would run alongside the horse-drawn fire engines to keep the horses calm and protected while fires were being attended to.
Dalmatians have been known since the late 1300s and there are reports of them being used as carriage dogs ever since the 1700s. Running is quite literally in their blood!
How To Run With Your Dalmatian: 6 Essential Tips
Let’s cover some of the best tips every owner should know before going running with their Dal.
1. Leash Training Comes First
Before trying to run with your Dalmatian, he will need to learn HOW to run with you and more importantly, how to remain by your side! If he’s never done it before, he might get carried away with excitement, pull you and run in all kinds of directions.
You’ll need to invest in a hands-free bungee leash. This allows you to have full control over your Dalmatian and have your hands free to run at the same time. Plus the bungee provides cushioning to reduce the chance of sharp yanking.
At first, you’ll need to practice walking (not running) with him regularly on the hands-free leash, while positively reinforcing him to remain close to your side using periodic stopping, and rewarding (with treats).
As he progresses and gets good at walking by your side with the hands-free leash, you can start incorporating periodic jogs (for 20 yards or so) before stopping and rewarding again.
This should be done until you can go on easy short jogs with him remaining by your side.
2. Slowly Build His Stamina & Endurance
Although Dalmatians have a good reputation when it comes to running, they too will need to build their stamina and endurance slowly, to begin with. Otherwise, injuries will ensue.
This means before going on long-distance runs, it’s best to take him on shorter distances and slower paces for at least a month. Gradually increasing the distance week after week.
In order to properly develop his endurance, he will of course need plenty of resting too! It’s imperative to not overwork your Dalmatian, and it’s not recommended to try running with him everyday! 3 times a week is a good place to start.
3. Plan Your Route In Advance
The next step would be to plan your route in advance and run the route without your Dalmatian, to begin with.
The route should have muddy parts (the more the better) as running only on concrete or pavement is not advised and will soon damage his paws and joints.
Additionally, it’s best to run a route that has adequate space and is generally quiet. Running along narrow pathways next to roads or where other dogs will be is an accident waiting to happen. Try to plan a route that’s safe, spacious and quiet.
And as I just mentioned, try running this route a few times before taking your Dalmatian, learn where the natural hazards are and try to limit them.
4. Always Consider The Weather
The weather conditions, as well as the temperature, are very important to pay attention to.
The ideal running conditions and temperature for a Dalmatian to run in would be at least 5C (40F) to 13C (55F) and not raining. Cloudy conditions would be better than direct sunshine as this would reduce the chances of becoming too hot.
The biggest issue is getting too hot. And this must be avoided. Unfortunately, the temperature rises far beyond 55F in most locations in the summer months, so it could be best to either run very early in the morning, in the evening or just wait until cooler months.
And of course, if it’s raining, keep your Dalmatian at home warm and dry. Dog jackets are great, but they aren’t made for heavy rain, or to be used for constant running. A jacket would quickly chafe and wouldn’t keep your Dalmatian dry for a prolonged period.
5. Be Aware Of His Positioning & His Pace!
Something that’s super important for you and your Dalmatian’s safety, is his positioning.
When you run with your Dalmatian, you want him to be either next to you, or slightly in front of you. The worst place for him to be is trailing behind you out of sight.
If this means letting him set the pace, then so be it. Get a feel for his preferred trotting speed and stick to that, never try pushing him or setting your own speed goals when running with your Dalmatian.
If you run too fast, he’ll likely end up slightly behind you. And when this happens you can’t see him and you won’t be aware of certain hazards, or his immediate intentions.
If you ensure he’s in front of you, you can always keep an eye on him, particularly as other dogs approach. If he’s about to do something drastic or change direction (for whatever reason) at least you’ll see it first rather than FEEL it first!
6. Take Breaks & Bring Water
When you run with your Dalmatian, be sure to have frequent stops, rest periods, and a little drink of water.
Although Dalmatians are exceptional athletes in their own right, it’s important to always consider how he’s holding up.
Heavy panting is to be expected, but if his panting becomes out of control or you hear him coughing as well, be sure to stop, allow him to rest, and give him a drink.
Ideally, you’ll stop at least every 3-5 minutes. Although this can vary with your Dalmatian’s running experience and proficiency.
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Avoiding Injuries & Prioritizing Your Dalmatian’s Health
As much as Dalmatians love exercising and running, we have to be responsible with their health.
Dalmatians are prone to certain joint issues like hip dysplasia and arthritis regardless of whether they’re runners or not. So this must be kept in mind at all times.
This doesn’t mean to say your Dalmatian shouldn’t run. In some cases, regular running might be the very thing that keeps your Dal healthier for longer… But there’s always a balance, and that’s the key.
The best way to avoid injuries:
● Start slow, run at an easy pace, and keep distances short
● Have plenty of rest days. At least every other day
● Only run on forgiving surfaces like mud and avoid concrete
● Don’t run for too long even when he’s experienced
● Have frequent breaks throughout each run
● Be extra attentive to his mobility and how he moves throughout the day
● Schedule extra veterinarian check-ups as a precautionary measure
Prevention is far better than cure, and doing what you can to avoid health issues like hip dysplasia, IVDD and arthritis should always be a top priority.
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Are you planning on running with your Dalmatian? Let me know!
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