The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States


Living Happily and Comfortably with Your Rhodesian Ridgeback


There are two areas that a great many dog owners forget about when attempting to teach their dogs good manners and good behavior. They are:
  1. Mistaking the canine brain for the human brain, and
  2. Failing to be consistent.
As the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a profusion of a number of breeds, it cannot be trained in the same way as a Rottweiler or a German Shepherd. Training for those animals is intense, repetitious, and boring. Ridgebacks have been blessed with attributes of the many breeds that have gone into their making and by observing the above two rules, you can successfully train your Ridgeback and you can both have some fun in the bargain.

Decide early in your puppy's life what it is you want him to do and not to do. Under six months of age you are going to expect to get him fully housebroken, walk nicely on a leash, not jump up on people, and perhaps stay off of the furniture. If you accomplish all of that prior to six months of age, give yourself a gold star. If you expect to accomplish more, well, maybe you might just be pushing yourself and your dog too hard.

For novice owners, a beginner obedience class is highly recommended. Find out who the trainer is, what his/her principles are, training methods used, etc. Ask around to other people who have gone to obedience classes with their dogs and learn where they go, what they are taught, their observations and opinions of their particular trainers, etc. Usually, the best place is an all-breed kennel club or obedience club. The key word here is ALL-BREED. Stay away from places specializing in guard-, working-, Schutzhund-, attack-dog training.

Ridgebacks are not stubborn; they are not dumb. Rather, they are independent, and whip smart. The one thing that they have that you should nurture is their desire to please.

When training to do anything, always get your dog's attention first, even if it takes several minutes to get him calmed down. Once you have his attention, then you begin with whatever it is you want him to do or not do. Don't ever act out of anger. Always act, never react. Screaming and hitting and chasing will turn your dog into a psychotic and only make you more frustrated. Stern words are usually all that is necessary to get your point across. It is best not to hit your dog either with your hand or an object, especially anywhere near the face or head. This seldom accomplishes anything but to provide an outlet for your own frustration. The damage done, however, can be irreparable.

As dogs are creatures of habit, you must always keep that in mind. Good habits are learned and so are bad habits. Detect the bad habits early before they become ingrained and work on perfecting the good habits.

The reward system is a very good way to train a puppy. The puppy goes outside and relieves himself. You praise him lavishly. I know it seems silly to gush all over a puppy just because he went "potty" outside instead of inside, but it works!

The use of a crate is strongly recommended while training your dog. Here is where you do not equate the dog's needs with human needs. A dog is a denning animal. Dogs seek out a private and safe spot. That is why they sleep under tables, beds, etc. A dog crate is your Ridgeback's safe haven. Get him used to it early in life. After all, babies are placed into playpens -- that's a lot crueler than allowing a puppy to develop his natural denning instinct.

When in doubt about a phase in training your Ridgeback, or any other problem, call your breeder. Also, there are a number of books available, hundreds in fact. Below are listed a few, any of which will give you the proper insight into the correct way of training your Ridgeback for a happy and comfortable life with his humans.
  • The New Knowledge of Dog Behavior; Pfaffenberger; Howell.
  • Handling Your Dog; Thorne; Doubleday.
  • How to be Your Dog's Best Friend; Monks of New Skete; Little Brown.
  • Good Dog, Bad Dog; Siegal and Margolis; Holt, Rinehard and Winston.
  • How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With; Rutherford and Neil; Alpine Publications. (This book must be ordered directly from the publisher: Alpine Publications, 2456 E 9th, Loveland CO 80537, Phone: 303-667-2017. Write or call for price.)