Rescuing a Dalmatian is both a time and emotional commitment. They make great companions, but like any dog, they need to be obedience trained. This will make your life, as well as that of the Dals, easier. Your bond will be better if your Dal understands you and vice versa. Dogs, by nature, are used to living in a pack situation, therefore the "alpha" needs to be established early. This is you! Dals bond with humans and need your companionship and attention, this along with their coat, makes them unsuitable for outdoor living.
The Dalmatian's purpose was to accompany carriages. The dogs traveled with the carriages and cleared the road of stray animals. They also served as guard dogs. To be able to fulfill this purpose the Dalmatian had to be capable of covering great distances and also had to be protective. Therefore, genetically, the Dalmatian is predisposed to be very active and somewhat territorial. It is extremely important for prospective owners to understand the activity level. A well-bred Dalmatian is highly active and requires opportunity for exercise. Having a second dog will provide more exercise in the form of romping and chase. Consider another dog of similar needs and size to keep your dog company. Another dog also helps relieve loneliness.
The Dalmatian's kidney is more like that of a human's. Some can develop kidney or bladder stones, so it is very important that you feed a premium quality, but low purine diet. Chicken turkey or lamb based foods are preferred. Water should always be available to make sure the urinary tract is kept clear. A Premium food will cost about $40 per month to feed you Dalmatian.
Sometimes Dals need to be taught the proper way to walk on a leash. Some Dals respond well to a training collar (or choke collar). These should only be used with proper training. Make sure the collar shows a "P" (for proper) when placing over the Dal's head. The dog should stay on the left side when walking with a training collar to allow the collar to release when the Dal is not pulling. These collars should only be used while you are training. Do not leave on your Dal unattended. Other collars such as a Gentle Leader or a Halti have very good success. These work by going around the muzzle and neck of the dog. By having this type of collar, the dog will go the direction its head is pointing. If it starts to pull, the head will turn. There are also Starmark collars, which are similar to pinch collars, but are actually easier on a dog's neck than a pinch collar. These are excellent for the dogs that really pull on leash.
Your Dal should wear an identification tag as soon as you get it. This needs to have both your home phone and another number so that someone can be contacted while you are away from home. Tattooing or microchipping your Dalmatian is a good idea as well. Today, purebred dogs are being stolen for various reasons (personal, commercial, experimentation, etc.). A marked dog is identifiable property, and if one is taken across state lines, then it is a federal offense. All dogs adopted from Recycled Canines are microchipped and have a lifetime registration.
Heartworm preventative is absolutely necessary because heartworms are a very serious threat to dogs in Texas!! Dogs need heartworm preventative monthly and should be tested yearly. Heartgard or any other heartworm preventative must be purchased with a prescription through your vet. Heartworm treatment is also VERY expensive and hard on the dog. Please take care in giving him the monthly medication on time. You can order through your vet, or there are a few places to order online. Heartgard costs about $50.00 for a six month supply. There are generic versions that are cheaper.
An occasional brushing and bath should cover the basic grooming for a Dalmatian. However, Dalmatians shed twice a year, six months in the summer and six months in the winter. The hair is short and coarse and tends to weave itself into fabrics. Daily brushings with a rubber curry brush can help keep hair out of your home and off your clothes. Managing fleas will make both your life and the dog's life happier. We recommend giving your dog a bath with a flea shampoo and letting it set for a minimum of ten minutes. Products like Advantage work great to keep the fleas at bay as well.
The nails should be trimmed often with nail clippers (Be careful not to cut the quick) or grinded using a Dremel. You can also have a groomer or vet trim the dog's toenails for you for a small charge.
Plaque and tartar buildup on teeth can lead to bad breath, gum disease and an expensive vet bill. To avoid this, there are toys made to help keep teeth clean as well as doggie toothbrushes and toothpaste. However, the best way I have found to keep teeth clean is to give your dog uncooked bones to chew on. This includes beef rib bones, knuckle bones, soup bones, etc. There are also hollow shank bones that can be bought at the petstore and filled with peanut butter or yogurt and then frozen. When you leave for the day, give one of these to your dog in a crate or area that can easily be cleaned.
Even though a dog is considered housetrained at one house, this may not be true for a new environment. You need to start with the basics for your new dog. When a dog is first introduced, make sure the yard is one of the first stops. When the dog goes to the bathroom make sure you give lots of praise and even a treat. When inside the house, the dog should be limited to a small area at first, and then this can be gradually broadened. A crate is an excellent item in housebreaking a dog as well as keeping them from getting into things while you are away from home.
All RCDR dogs are crate trained and it is quite useful when you have a new dog. 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 a treat whenever he is put in), and just don't overuse it. Eight hours in a crate is the absolute maximum at one time. Remember, extensive crate time means more exercise to help burn off stored up energy! A crate should be large enough for the dog to stand up in and turn around. Plastic crates cost $40.00-$100.00 depending on the quality and size needed for the dog.
Obedience classes are highly recommended. A trained dog is easier for everyone and makes the pet owning experience all the better. Also, training helps to establish the owner as the alpha dog in the house. Be sure the class will be taught using motivational methods such as praise, treats, toys, etc. Dalmatians do not do well with jerk and pull training. Talk to the instructor before the class. Be sure he/she does not have any pre-conceived notions about the breed. Stores like Petsmart have classes year round.
Sarah with Good Boy Obedience has a Dalmatian, so she is familiar with the breed as well as training deaf dogs.
Socialization is a very important yet often overlooked area of dog ownership. It is important that dogs get out often to interact with other dogs and people. Provide a food reward whenever a dog hesitates in meeting a stranger, and be sure talk confidently and be happy. When meeting another dog, give each one a treat and tell them how nice it is for them to be close. Certainly be prepared to separate should it be necessary, but usually the food will break their concentration.
Dogs should never be allowed to be free in the back of a truck. This is too dangerous for the dog and other drivers. They should either be in the back seat or in a tied down crate. Also, remember that dogs and heat don't mix. A dog cannot eliminate excess body heat by sweating as we can; he can only pant. This method is actually very ineffectual, and so dogs are prone to heat prostration. Be careful when you have your dog in a car. The windows magnify the power of the sun and even when windows are down, the interior is quite hot.
EXERCISE Please remember that exercise must be part of the routine for a healthy dog. Some dogs only require a few short exercise sessions a day, but others require high intensity workouts. Having a second dog will provide more exercise in the form of romping and chase. Consider another dog of similar needs and size to keep your dog company. It also helps relieve loneliness.
TOYS Many toys are not made durable enough for the average dog. If you see that your dog is tearing up a toy, please take it away. There are many toys that have proven themselves, like the Kong. Just make sure that toys are not too small that it may become a choking hazard.
FEEDING All dogs should be fed a high quality of food (not the grocery store brands). The better dog foods will cost more money, but they require less to feed. Your dog is also able to use more ingredients in a high quality food. For a great resource on feeding your dog a better quality of dog food and other information, please check out www.whole-dog-journal.com. The following are standards set by WDJ:
Quality foods should contain a MINIMUM of the following:
•Food fragments - lower-cost by-products of another food manufacturing process, such as brewer's rice and wheat bran...Manufacturers usually include at least one fragment to help lower costs. Beware any food that includes several fragments. •Meat by-products (not handled as carefully as whole meat) - any food that contains meat by-products as the MAJOR protein source indicates a low-quality product.
High Quality foods SHOULD NOT contain:
•Fats or proteins named generically (ex. animal fat/poultry fat instead of beef fat/ lamb meal) •Artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin), •Artificial colors, Sweeteners (corn syrup, sucrose, ammoniated glycyrrhizin) to improve unappealing food, •Propylene glycol - toxic substance in large amounts; added to some "chewy" foods to keep them moist.
Quality foods should contain:
•Superior sources of protein, either whole fresh meats or single source meat meal (ex. chicken meal rather than poultry meal). •A whole-meat source as one of the first two ingredients. •Whole, unprocessed grains, vegetables, and other foods. Nutrients and enzymes are more likely to be found in unprocessed foods.
SOCIALIZATION Socialization is a very important yet often overlooked area of dog ownership. It is important that dogs get out often to interact with other dogs and people. Provide a food reward whenever a dog hesitates in meeting a stranger, and be sure talk confidently and be happy. When meeting another dog, give each one a treat and tell them how nice it is for them to be close. Certainly be prepared to separate should it be necessary, but usually the food will break their concentration.
GET INVOLVED There are many things that you can do to involve yourself with your dog. There are competition events like agility, flyball, obedience, tracking, and especially for Dalmatians, road trials. Some breeds of dogs may be suited for search and rescue, herding, sledding, or earthdog events. Other things like therapy dogs can be rewarding for you, your dog and the people that you visit. Many dogs enjoy hiking and camping as well!
BOARDINGIf you need to leave town and there are no family members to watch your new dog, please look around for kennels that are clean and provide adequate care and exercise. Some of our foster homes also do boarding.
The following kennel has been very supportive of Recycled Canines Dalmatian Rescue by offering free boarding to dogs in need:
Sea Dog Inn League City, TX www.seadoginn.com 281 554-2068
It is recommended that you read a few books about your breed as well as a few about training and understanding your dog. The more you know, the better your relationship with your new companion will be.