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Do you really want a Ridgeback?

Some things to consider before making a Rhodesian Ridgeback part of the family.

If you're reading this, chances are you're probably moving toward the decision of adding a Ridgeback to your family. The most important question that that you will need to carefully consider, is whether or not a Ridgeback is right for you.

Perhaps you've had a chance meeting with someone that has a Rhodesian Ridgeback, or maybe an aquaintance owns one that you found especially appealing, or maybe you have seen cute puppy photos - or possibly you have just heard about them. For these - and various other reasons - many people have become attracted to Rhodesian Ridgebacks. However, before the final decision is made to aquire one of these admittedly magnificent animals, make certain that you carefully consider all he has to offer - and what demands he'll make on your time and energy.

Ridgebacks are "high energy" dogs.

Ridgebacks were bred for endurance - therefore they will need a consistent, ongoing program of exercise. Even if you do have a large fenced yard you will need to play with your Ridgeback, giving him/her time for a good romp several times a week. Otherwise, they will need long walks for at least 30 - 45 minutes 3-4 times a week.

They need this outside away-from-the-house activity for relieving boredom as well as for their general health. Furthermore, it can be considered "companionship time" between you and your dog, which will build the bond of trust that will build the loyalty that these dogs are noted for. Don't forget - Health benefits of vigorous walks will help you too!

Another way to insure that your Ridgeback will burn off energy is to have another Ridgeback, or other breed of dog for them to play with! Even a neighborhood friend can help, if they also have a dog.  I have found that this absolutley insures a good amount of exercise. (Make certain puppies are outside of the danger window before introducing them to other unknown canines - about 16 weeks - as all young puppies can be susceptible to canine diseases. Even then, its best to have a strong confidence that the dog in question is well taken care of before exposing your dog to unknowns.)

Make all activities with your Ridgeback a "Socializing Event"

It's emotionally and socially healthy for a RR to “get out” about the town, to check out the scents other creatures have left, to see what's new, or what the new kid in town smells like. These little walks may not seem like much to you, but they are great adventures for your Ridgeback - and it cannot be over emphasized what a positive long-term impact it will have on his overall temperament.

I have personally found that playing with our Ridgebacks, taking them on walks, or taking them with me for rides in my vehicle when I am doing errands, all add up to a very well adjusted dog; and the bond of friendship that these activities provide between myself and my dog seems to have been very productive in training as well. There is plenty of accumulated data that states how much better canines respond when they have playful interaction with their owners.

Now, with all of that said, they are also very content to lie at your feet, or anywhere near you and sleep. This is one of the traits that make them so appealing.

What if you live in an apartment?

A Ridgeback should be able to adapt to apartment/condo living, assuming the foregoing exersize principles are strictly adhered to. Although it can be a challenge, as the effort of house breaking, and ceremoniously giving your dog the essential component of exercise is a major inconvenience for apartment and condominium dwellers. A fenced yard is a great help, if you decide to take on the responsibility of Ridgeback ownership.

They are social creatures.

You cannot leave Rhodesian Ridgebacks isolated for long periods of time. This is especially true of puppies. They need "social time" with you. If a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy is left alone too much, it will not develop psychologically or socially, and this can never be corrected. This is the primary reason it is risky to obtain a dog from rescue organizations. Who knows how they were socialized?

"Ridgeback Puppy Socialization" is essential for early development – but as life long friends they will continue to need your companionship to remain healthy and happy. Even a moderate amount of daily activity with your adult Ridgeback will make a dramatic impact on his personality - so you must make the time. This "quality time" is very easy to have with your dog if he is kept in the house with you because it makes your Ridgeback an integral part of family life - and Ridgebacks are very easy to live with when properly socialized.

If you are consistently gone during the day, then consider 2 Ridgebacks to keep each other company. However, there is no substitute for social interaction between you, your Ridgeback and your family.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks need "outside socialization"

If you're going to make a commitment to a Ridgeback, you will need to get them used to other people, animals and various surroundings. We call this “socialization”.

The extra time you spend introducing your puppy to new situations, the better adjusted the animal will be – and the happier both you and your dog will be for it. Proper socialization makes for a rewarding life-long relationship between you, your family and your dog. We cannot over emphasize the importance of exposing your puppy to new surroundings and adventures. Letting others pet your dog as a puppy, introducing it to other pets, noises and situations of all kinds – no matter how insignificant it may seem, can make the difference between a dog that is bold and happy, or one that is fearful and/or anti-social.

Also, Geneticists have stated that the I.Q. Of your dog increases exponentially when properly socialized.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks need some sort of Formal Obedience Training.

Your puppy will need to have formal obedience training. This is so important that we have included it on our puppy agreement as a qualifying requirement to obtain a puppy from us.

A formal obedience course requires only a small commitment of time, and produces life-long results. Ridgebacks grow up to be fairly large dogs, so making certain that they develop a good set of socially acceptable behaviors (Canine good citizenship) is a must. A formal obedience class is a first step at reaching this objective.

Rhodesians have healthy appetites

A Ridgeback will constantly try to convince you that they are starving to death. I know few people that have not fallen victim to their con artistry. Watch how much you feed them. If you can see a pronounced "waste area" when looking down from above the ddog, and a faint shadow of the rib closest to the loin area, the weight is ok. An overweight Ridgie is not a pleasant site. They are supposed to look athletic and strong. Do not let your Ridgeback talk you into extra food - and believe me, they will perform all manner of antics to overcome your resolve. Put them on a specified schedule, not allowing them to eat freely throughout the day. And remember - it isn't what the scale says - it's how they look.

Ridgebacks should be on a leash when walking outside

When leaving the safety of your property, always keep your dog leashed, especially near streets and roads. A Ridgeback has a strong prey drive and intelligent curiosity and can wonder off into oncoming traffic, or other dangerous situations. Your dog needs your protection. Don't let your Ridgeback become a statistic.

Consider the financial aspect

The initial cost of a Ridgeback puppy is not the end of your expenditures. Your new family member will need annual vet check-ups, toys, collars, leashes, a special "cushy" bed and so on. These fianancial needs are continual, throughout your dog's life.

Is there anything good about a Ridgeback?

  • A Ridgeback requires a firm personal commitment to all the previous considerations. However they are certainly worth the effort, as many a happy Ridgeback owner will attest.

  • Their "pack instinct" makes them especially suitable for family living.

  • They enjoy living with people and are generally very quiet, except for a change in the surroundings such as unfamiliar noises or strangers.

  • They are short coated, so do not shed much.

  • They usually don't have a noticeable odor - almost wash and wear dogs!

  • Ridgebacks do not bark or howl indiscriminately – so pay attention if they do bark!

  • They are not fussy eaters - So be careful what you feed them!

  • They're generally easy to house break

  • They always get people complimenting you 'cuz they're so handsome!

Our Opinion?

We can wholeheartedly vouch for the fact that owning a Ridgeback is well worth the extra effort to bring your puppy to healthy maturity. The initial effort invested in a Ridgeback puppy is where the real benefit will be noticed. As the puppy gets older, through adolescence and into adulthood, his/her personality will have been shaped by you based on the attention to socialization you have given.

The initial time invested in your puppy will make you realize, as we have that "Once you own a Ridgeback - you'll never settle for anything less."

For more information, you can look here.

If you feel that you can include a Rhodesian Ridgeback as part of your lifestyle, you might like to fill out our puppy questionnaire.

If you have any questions, or need clarification, please feel free to contact us using this form, or call us at 224-836-4018

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