If you have recently become the owner of one of these bouncy and boisterous puppies, you will know that the temptation to let them burn off all their excess steam and pass out is nearly overwhelming. A sleepy puppy is an easy to manage puppy, but you need to make sure you aren’t over-exercising his little bones and muscles. Puppies’ bones don’t ossify until they are 18 months of age, which means that until then, their bones are soft and developing. Too much exercise or high-impact activity can lead to an early onset of arthritis or damage to developing joints.
A good rule of thumb is that a puppy will require five minutes of walking per every month of life. This means that when you first bring your little puppy home and he has been fully vaccinated (twelve weeks old), he should really only be having fifteen minutes of walking per day. This may seem like shockingly little exercise, but puppies require a great deal less than their adult counterparts, and they also will tend to sleep between eighteen and twenty hours per day. You can divide the time up into several walks per day, as this will be more fun and exciting for the puppy; he gets to go outside lots of times instead of just the once. Puppies do have a lot of energy, and Dalmatian puppies in particular are renowned for being exceptionally bouncy, but if you find yourself walking him too much, you’ll wind up with an extremely fatigued little puppy that probably won’t make it all the way back without being carried.
Once your puppy is fully grown, they can obviously go out for a lot longer. Their bones and muscles will have fully developed, and it’s likely that you’ll tire before your Dalmatian. These dogs were bred to run for miles and miles, and whilst you may not be able to take them out for hours at a time, the innate ability and desire is still there. Dalmatians can be easily trained to run alongside a jogger or a bike, and this will help in getting them sufficiently exercised. Off-lead walks are also a great asset, as your Dalmatian does all the work! When he is just a baby though, it really is imperative that you pay close attention to what he is trying to tell you. If he is falling over his feet trying to go to sleep, chances are his little body is overworked and exhausted. Puppies tend to go through spurts of extremely high energy, usually following mealtimes, but will then nearly instantaneously collapse in a heap and nap for several hours. This is perfectly normal behaviour, and you’ll likely miss it when he gets a bit older and the energy spurts lengthen!
Dalmatians are a very active breed, and as puppies they can be very hard work. There are lots of other ways aside from running that will not only make your puppy more manageable, but also make your relationship stronger and more loving.
Training sessions are a great way to bond with your puppy. Getting him to do things like sit, stay and lie down are just as taxing on the puppy brain as is loads of physical exercise, and has no negative impact on his little bones. Your puppy will get sufficient exercise indoors, just playing, and can be suitably knackered after a fifteen minute training lesson. Teaching your puppy to retrieve is also hugely beneficial. Dalmatians are not retrievers, so this skill does not come naturally, but it is easily taught, and will make exercise a lot more fun and productive for both you and your puppy. Ultimately, daily controlled periods of exercise are best. Puppies are great with routines, and if you can factor in several short walks per day, as well as training and obedience intervals, you will have a much easier time with your new dally. These walks and lessons can be lengthened as your puppy gets older, and if you stick to a similar time every day, can be something he looks forward to. Remember that no matter how large a garden you may have, it doesn’t come close to being as exciting and stimulating as a walk in a new environment. Just because it is a short walk doesn’t mean your puppy isn’t having a great time.
Dalmatians and other large breed dogs grow quickly, and whilst it is astonishing to watch (they seem to grow when you blink!) it is important to remember that their bones and muscles are growing and changing quickly too. These are filled with tiny blood vessels that can be prone to stress and trauma. Over exercising can cause permanent damage to your dog’s cartilage and may halt the growth process altogether. Cartilage has limited regenerative capability, and forcing your pup to run alongside you, or your bike, can be extremely dangerous. Be patient; it won’t be long before you struggle to keep up!
Like many large dogs, Dalmatians are also prone to hip dysplasia, so these early months of development are particularly important. Your puppy can’t tell you if he’s in pain or stiff, so you’ll have to monitor his actions and take care that this does not happen. Puppies are easily excited, and you can’t expect them to limit themselves if something fun is going on. He will want to keep running rampant until the excitement has died down, so it is up to you as his owner to make sure he doesn’t overdo it. You’ll find soon enough that the crazy spells grow fewer and farther between, and as your puppy matures and excels in his training, one or two walks per day will suffice. Dalmatians may require slightly more exercise than some other breeds, but they are not unmanageable dogs. It is just important to make sure that their bones are allowed to develop and grow without the trauma of over-exercising. Then you’ll likely find you’re feeling the effects of fatigue as well!