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the Rhodesian Ridgeback

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Back to: Things to Know Before You Bring a Rhodesian Ridgeback Into Your Life

Written to hopefully answer some of the many questions people have about this wonderful, versatile animal.

As puppies, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are fun loving, exuberant, inquisitive, and somewhat rambunctious. A six-month old Ridgeback puppy can unmeaningly knock over a toddler. A toddler can unmeaningly heap arbitrary punishment upon a young and impressionable puppy. Therefore, parents should exercise a great amount of supervision so that neither puppy nor baby inflicts abuse upon one another. This holds true throughout the preschool age period of a child and for the first 18 to 24 months of a Ridgeback's life. Mature Ridgebacks and school age children are best buddies and friends for life.

The Ridgeback is not a trouble-maker; however, once attacked or threatened by another dog, the Ridgeback will stand its ground and fight if it has to. Most of the time a Ridgeback is only looking for a doggy pal to play with and does not normally view other dogs as a threat. However, multiple, intact males around unspayed females can create some problems. A Ridgeback is very good with cats, but should be exposed to them when it (the Ridgeback) is young.

As guard dogs, Ridgebacks use great discretion. They are not frantic barkers and they are not looking to attack anyone. Usually, they will give a couple of loud bellows to get your attention and let you know someone is on the property. They do not bark indiscriminately. When Ridgebacks bark, they have a good reason to do so but will usually stop when you tell them -- unless they are certain you are not aware of what they are trying to tell you. It is always wise to investigate when Ridgebacks bark. Until you tell them everything is okay, they will continue to act alert and wary around strangers.

A Ridgeback should not be trusted to stay within unfenced property boundaries. They are hounds and have a good nose and excellent vision. Because of this they will take off, completely forgetting imaginary boundary lines, if they see something that captures their interest. Fencing is a must -- a minimum of 5 feet. Young Ridgebacks get bored easily and they can dig some good-sized holes. If you are going to have to keep your puppy or young dog alone for hours on end, day after day, construct a good-sized indoor/outdoor run to keep him out of boredom mischief.

Because of his short coat and very little shedding, the Ridgeback stays clean and odor free. Once a week currycombing, occasional baths, ear cleaning, and nail trimming are all that is needed to keep him well groomed and fit to live in your house. Ridgebacks are "people" dogs. They like to be where you are, and if you allow it, they'll crawl into your bed, onto your sofa or favorite chair and your lap. You have to decide what is acceptable behavior and train them accordingly at a very early age. They are very easy to housebreak if the owner is diligent and exercises common sense in the training period. It is best to limit a young dog to certain areas of your house where you can keep an eye on him. As older dogs they usually can have full roam of the house with no problems.

Train them early to ride in the car. A crate is strongly recommended as it acts as their seat belt and allows you to open car windows widely in warm weather. Never leave a dog in the car in hot weather -- even for a short period of time.

It is rare that a Ridgeback is found to be a fussy eater. If a Ridgeback suddenly refuses to eat, it is most likely sick and a veterinarian should be consulted. Their appetites are large, and no matter how much food you give them, they will try to convince you that it is not enough. Free feeding is not recommended for a Ridgeback. The biggest problem with first-time Ridgeback owners is that they allow their dogs to get too fat. It is best to follow your breeder's advice to the letter concerning type and quantity of food to feed. Ridgebacks are inherently adept at stealing food off of table tops -- so stand warned.

A Ridgeback, especially a young one, should have a safe place to exercise. This does not have to be several times a day or even every day. A couple of times a week to run and stretch muscles and get rid of young-dog exuberance is usually all that is needed. A brisk walk a few times a day in combination with periodic high energy runs are all that is needed for those who do not have the benefit of fenced property or who live in the city or an apartment.

Back to: Things to Know Before You Bring a Rhodesian Ridgeback Into Your Life

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