From “fire dogs” to messengers during WWII, Dalmatians have a long history of taking on high-energy tasks, a fact that is evident from their seemingly boundless energy levels today.
According to The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), healthy, adult Dalmatians need a minimum of 2 hours of exercise each day.1 Dalmatians under the age of 2 years will require less strenuous exercise since their puppy joints haven’t developed their full strength yet.
Similarly, senior Dalmatians will require less exercise. For a more tailored exercise timetable, you should speak to your vet.
How to Exercise Your Dalmatian
While they seem to be bursting with physical energy, it’s important to remember that Dalmatians are also incredibly intelligent dogs requiring plenty of mental stimulation as well. Dalmatians can be very high-energy dogs and can easily get into mischief if they don’t have enough opportunity for physical and mental exercise.
When it comes to their daily 2 hours of exercise, try to break it up into two sessions. Going for a walk is great, but also try to allow your Dalmatian to sprint and run in a secure, safe location. Remember that a 2-hour recommendation is a minimum for this athletic breed, and you’ll need to dedicate plenty of hours for their daily exercises.
At home, offer your Dalmatian puzzle games, playtime in the yard, and regular training to keep their clever brains busy.
If you enjoy hiking or running, your Dalmatian will make a great companion. A healthy Dalmatian can handle upwards of a 5-mile hike or run.
Exercise for Dalmatian Puppies
Puppies will not be able to handle strenuous exercise, and it’s important not to over-exercise them as this could put too much pressure on their growing joints. Break up their daily exercise into several short 20-minute sessions and offer them plenty of treat-based puzzles. Training sessions are a great way to keep your Dalmatian puppy’s energy levels under control. Puppies should NOT be encouraged to run or exert themselves at their maximum capacity until they are at least 2 years old.
Exercise for Senior Dalmatians
Dalmatians will naturally slow down as they age. You may notice your senior Dalmatian is not as sprightly as they once were, nor as energetic. Their movements may appear stiffer, and they may even show a reluctance to go for a walk.
Split your senior Dalmatian’s exercise into much shorter sessions. If your Dalmatian is walking slowly, that’s okay—adjust your pace to match theirs.
Note that although a senior Dalmatian’s activity levels will drop naturally over time, this is usually a gradual process. If you notice a sudden drop in your dog’s energy levels, you should take them to a vet to rule out any underlying health issues.
Top 5 Great Activities for Dalmatians
There are many activities that your Dalmatian will enjoy, including mental challenges as well as physical sports. The best way to understand which activity suits your pet the best is to spend time getting to know them, and their likes and dislikes. For example, some Dalmatians love to go swimming, while others are not fond of water.
To help give you some ideas, we’ve listed five activities that are perfect for Dalmatians.
1. Agility Training
A Dalmatian’s natural speed, agility, and intelligence make them an excellent fit for agility training and courses. Dalmatians don’t tire easily, and they require mental stimulation. They’ll respond well to routine training sessions on the obstacle course, and they’ll love getting rewarded with praise and attention.
This isn’t just a great way to burn off your Dalmatian’s excess energy, it’s also a great opportunity to nurture the bond between you and your pet.
2. Treasure Hunt
This activity will require some preparation in advance, but it’s perfect for Dalmatians who love to use their nose! You can prepare a treasure hunt inside your home, backyard, or—with a little more preparation—a walking trail.
The first step is to keep your dog away while you hide strong-scented treats or kibble along the treasure trail. Your dog will love discovering the treats on their walk. As they become better at finding the treats, you’ll need to increase the difficulty a little by hiding the treats in less conspicuous places.
3. Training Sessions
Training sessions are not only fun, but they’re also essential for Dalmatians. Start training your Dalmatian while they are still a puppy by teaching them simple commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come.”
Use positive reinforcement when training your Dalmatian and remember to remain calm and patient with them. When your Dalmatian gets something right, reward them with a treat and plenty of praise.
4. Frisbee and Fetch
Your Dalmatian will love joining in with family games such as frisbee. Frisbee and fetch will give your Dalmatian their much-needed opportunity to run and jump around!
These games also don’t need pre-planning or additional costs. If you have an open space such as a field, a park, or even a beach nearby, you can grab a frisbee or ball and you’re good to go.
Playing with your Dalmatian will benefit both of you. Studies reveal that spending time with your pet can lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone), lower blood pressure, reduce feelings of loneliness, and boost your mood.
5. Hiking and Running
If you’re an active person, then a Dalmatian may be an ideal pet for you. Your Dalmatian will make a fantastic hiking and running partner. Their excellent stamina will encourage you to keep going for several miles.
Although a healthy adult Dalmatian can run consistently for between 5 and 10 miles, it’s important not to try to do this with a puppy. Your Dalmatian’s joints will fully mature by the time they are 2 years old.
Healthy adult Dalmatians need at least 2 hours of exercise per day. You’ll want to split this over two sessions and give your dog the opportunity to run, sprint, and jump. Activities such as agility courses, running, and hiking are perfect for Dalmatians!
Puppies and senior Dalmatians will need less strenuous exercise. Every dog is different, and some health conditions may require your dog to have different exercise requirements. For a tailored exercise routine, speak to your vet.