One of the most common questions that future Dalmatian owners ask is whether or not they are easy to train. Training is something that will be required either way, but it’s good to know what you’re up against beforehand.
Dalmatians are considered fairly easy to train, but they can be stubborn and mischievous at the best of times. On a positive note, Dalmatians have a strong sense of appeasement and are willing to learn and follow commands.
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Are Dalmatians Easy To Train?
Let’s start by answering the question that brought you here… And to make this as authentic as possible, we asked 20 Dalmatian owners what they thought. We got an overwhelmingly positive response, and here’s the summarized answer…
Yes, Dalmatians are considered fairly easy to train, but it won’t come without challenges along the way. Dals have a strong sense of appeasement and are willing to follow commands, but at the same time can choose to be stubborn and mischievous.
With sufficient training and consistent positive reinforcement of good behavior, a Dalmatian will mostly be very obedient and well-behaved. Dals, for the most part, are easy to train if the owner is a willing trainer.
Why Dalmatians Can Be Difficult To Train
Some Dalmatians might prove more difficult to train than others, and this comes down to their working history.
Dalmatians have long been used as working dogs. From running alongside side horses and carriages across the country to guiding old fire trucks in the direction of the fires. Dals are energetic workers by nature.
This kind of desire to work has given Dalmatians an incredibly strong mind. This is great when it comes to carrying out tasks at hand, but when left unstimulated can also turn into stubbornness, defiance, and bad behavior.
Without providing a Dalmatian the high level of mental and physical exercise they naturally crave, disobedience and undesirable behavior will happen. This can easily frustrate and get the better of many dog owners.
Interesting Fact: Dalmatians became hugely popular in the 1950s due to 101 Dalmatians, yet shortly after, their popularity completely dropped off and Dals were one of the most abandoned breeds in the country. This happened because owners were not ready or prepared to raise such a demanding and work-orientated breed.
The Best Way To Train a Dalmatian
There are mostly just two different ways to train Dalmatians:
- Positive reinforcement-based training ✅
- Punitive training ❌
You guessed it… Positive Reinforcement-Based training is by far the best method of training your Dal, and is the only thing you should focus on.
In essence, positive reinforcement-based training is simply rewarding your Dalmatian for the behavior that you want to encourage or rewarding him after successfully following a command.
Why Positive Reinforcement Works So Well
All dogs, irrespective of breed, learn the best through positive association and lots of repetition.
When rewarded with a treat, your praise, or even your attention, your Dalmatian is more likely to remember what he did to gain that reaction, and that’s the key…
With a lot of repetition, your Dalmatian will understand that when he follows your command or displays good behavior, he gets rewarded for doing so.
And at the end of the day, all most dogs want is to receive their owner’s approval and attention.
Why Punitive Training Should Be Avoided
Punitive training is based on punishing behavior that you don’t want or when he doesn’t follow your command.
What counts as a punishment? Anything from clipping them on the nose, hitting their bum, shouting, raising your voice or anything that demonstrates your anger or frustration.
This method is completely flawed. Punitive training is not only unfair and harsh, it simply doesn’t work. Being punished instills fear and anxiety, and in moments of fear and anxiety, a dog cannot learn what he was supposed to do.
The only thing that punitive training achieves is distrust and fearfulness toward the owner. Which, in turn, leads to more disobedience, and the nasty cycle repeats…
So although I’m sure this certainly isn’t something you would do, it’s still an important point to cover.
Related Read: When do Dalmatians calm down? Do they stay hyper?
Tips To Teach Your Boxer Basic Commands
Basic commands like sit, stay, paw, down, drop, and come are quickly taught, but also quickly neglected. I’m guilty of this in the past too, but it’s a huge mistake!
Basic command training acts as the foundation of your Dal’s overall obedience. Mastering basic commands is relatively easy to do, yet it paves the way for overall obedience and good behavior way beyond simply knowing how to sit.
The outline of teaching a basic command:
1) You choose the command. For example “Come here”
2) Wait for your dal to carry out the command
3) Reward your dal with treats and praise after completion
That’s it. That’s the simple framework of basic command training.
⭐ Of course, when you first try a new command like “come here” he won’t know what to do. So you’ll need to aid him and make it easy. In the case of “come here”. Try taking a few steps back from your Dal, while saying the command “come here”. The act of walking back encourages him to come to you, and so when he does, emphasize “come here” and reward him. Repeat the process many times and before long, he’ll know exactly what “come here” means.
This is the same for all of the commands, in the beginning, you will need to physically aid, help, or show your Dal what the command means.
⭐ Creating simple routines is one of my favorite ways to practice routines:
- Start by commanding “sit”. When he sits, reward him
- Command sit, then command “stay” and walk back a couple of steps, wait, then go back to him and reward if he stayed
- Command stay, walk back again, wait, then command “come here” reward when he comes
This simple routine practices sit, stay and come in one single session and it’s very effective.
⭐ Additional tips to get the most out of basic command training:
● In the beginning, make it easy for him! Set him up for success so he can get it right and be rewarded. Rewarding is the most important part of the learning process.
● Choose a single command and don’t change it (don’t go from “stay” to “wait”) this makes learning very hard for even the smartest breeds.
● Use a high-value reward that makes training worth it! Try Zuke Natural Minis.
● In the beginning, only train him when no distractions are present.
● Train him only after he has exercised and eaten to have his full attention.
● Be consistent and train him on a daily basis (ideally at the same time) routines can help keep their minds focused and ready for each training session.
● Only once your Dalmatian has really mastered the basics make it more challenging. You can do this by introducing distractions (like having other people in the room) or by asking him to “stay” for longer periods of time, or while you walk to another room. Whatever it is, it’s important to consistently increase difficulty.
● Never get frustrated for times he doesn’t listen. Regain his attention and try again. Some days will be better than others…
⭐ If there’s one thing to take away from this article, it’s that basic command training should never be overlooked. Start command training within the first few weeks of bringing him home and continue on a daily basis. It’s simple but will pave the way for incredible obedience and good behavior.
Interesting read: Do Dalmatians have spots when born?
Tips For Housing Training Your Dalmatian
The sooner you start house training your Dalmatian the better. Many owners add a lot of confusion surrounding house training and what it actually involves… House training is the process of instilling good habits from a young age.
House training consists of two main forms of training:
1) Potty training
2) Crate training
Tips For Potty Training a Dalmatian
Potty training should ideally start from day one, and hopefully you find success before those pees and poops get significantly larger and messier!
● Create a dedicated space in your yard free from distractions that will be sacrificed for pees and poops.
● Bring your puppy to this spot after he sleeps, naps, eats, drinks, plays, or gets excited. If you think he’s about to pee or poop, scoop him up and bring him to the spot.
● Create a command like “potty time” and stick to it. Only use that single command while he’s actively peeing or pooping. This is necessary to build the association between the command and action.
● Reward him heavily with praise, a treat and your attention whenever he pees and poops on the spot.
● Try your best to capture every pee and poop you possibly can.
● If you catch him eliminating in the house, scoop him up while doing so and take him immediately outside to the spot. But remain calm and simply use the “potty time” command.
● Never punish mistakes! It won’t work, and nothing is achieved by it. Instead, focus on rewarding him when he gets it right, instead of punishing him when he gets it wrong.
● Buy extra cleaning products. lol!
As long as you have more successful potty moments than unsuccessful ones, your Dalmatian will quickly learn that he needs to pee and poop outside on his potty spot. Be consistent, try your best to anticipate his moments, and remain calm when he gets it wrong. It may take at least a few weeks!
Tips For Crate Training a Dalmatian
Crates are essential for all dogs, especially during puppyhood.
Crates can keep your Dalmatian safe while you’re out, and it’s their preferred area to sleep when you first bring them home as a puppy.
The biggest misconception of the usage of crates is that they are restrictive and regarded as a bad place to be. Your job is to make the crate a safe haven for your Dal.
The goal of crate training is to build enough positive associations until the dog views the crate as somewhere he actually wants to be! Not somewhere he fears or dislikes. If you succeed with this, the crate will serve as your Dals very own “den” that he’ll always be happy to go in.
● Never force your puppy inside the crate, he’ll instinctively respond negatively, and this will add to his perception that the crate is somewhere he doesn’t want to be.
● Play with your puppy in and around the crate, always keep the door open.
● Let him inspect the crate at his own pace.
● Throw his toys in there, give him treats in there, and if possible, feed him inside his crate.
● Avoid shutting the door in the beginning.
● Only keep him in there for short periods of time. 20 minutes should be the maximum in the beginning, always reward him after and give him plenty of attention.
● Continue to spend time with him around the crate, give him new toys inside, and continue to build positive associations with it.
● Avoid using the crate as a time-out or punishment.
● Keep the crate in a prominent place in the house.
Interesting article: Why are Dalmatians becoming rarer?
Consistency Is Important For Successful Training
Knowing in advance that you’ll need to train your Dalmatian on a daily basis for several months will set you off on the right path.
If basic command training and positive reinforcement aren’t carried out on a daily basis, your Dal can’t be expected to gain and improve his intelligence or obedience.
Building upon lessons learned from the previous days and weeks is key. And then once he’s learned something, continuing with it is just as important.
The biggest mistake I see, especially when it comes to basic command training, is that owners simply stop the training as soon as the command has been learned.
The repetition of following commands and going through training will not only improve his ability to act on those commands, but the fact that he’s receiving any kind of training at all will stimulate him and keep his obedience level high.
Dalmatians are smart and eager to appease, but they can be stubborn at the best of times. In order to have success in training your Dalmatians, he needs to receive training from day one, and on a consistent basis.
With enough positive reinforcement and repetition, any Dalmatian can learn to be the well-behaved, obedient dog that you want them to be.
Thank you for reading