How to Live with a Rhodesian Ridgeback

By Contributing Writer

Rhodesian Ridgebacks make superb pets for dog-savvy owners. Although they can be a little more demanding than some breeds, with the proper care, Ridgebacks make great family companions.

Know your breed. Do research online, read books, and talk to your breeder, to learn about common behavior and training issues with Rhodesian Ridgebacks. That way, you'll be prepared ahead of time for any potential problems that might pop up.

Train, train, train. Rhodesian Ridgebacks require early and frequent training and socialization. Take your Ridgeback to a training class, and make sure that the trainer uses positive reinforcement techniques. Ridgebacks do not respond well to punishment. Practice training exercises with your Ridgeback on a daily basis. Even ten minutes a day will ensure that your Ridgeback is a happier and more manageable living companion.

Crates are your friend. Crate train your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, and continue to use the crate when you aren't home, until your Ridgeback can be trusted alone (if ever). The crate keeps your Ridgeback out of trouble when you can't supervise him. Unfortunately, a Ridgeback puppy with unlimited access to the house can do a lot of damage in a short time.

Grab your jogging shoes and a leash. Rhodesian Ridgebacks require a lot of regular exercise. After all, wouldn't you much rather have your dog spend his excess energy taking a nice long walk, instead of chewing up your prized rug? Most Ridgebacks can and will become destructive in the house when bored or under-exercised.

Keep your shoes and your sofas safe. Ridgebacks, especially puppies, go through chewing phases. Providing a variety of dog toys helps focus your Ridgeback's chewing urges in the right direction. Remember, if you don't give your Ridgeback appropriate toys to gnaw, he will end up finding his own.

Be the boss. Unlike breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Ridgebacks can be dominant and challenging at times. Work with an experienced trainer, so that you know how to ensure you are the top dog in your home. By being firm and consistent, your Ridgeback will learn to respect and obey you, and you can prevent problems down the road.

Treat your Ridgeback like family. Rhodesian Ridgebacks want to be near you, and don't do well if left outdoors all the time, especially at night. Allow your Ridgeback to hang out with you, and you'll be rewarded with a loyal and devoted friend for life.