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Ridgebacks & Water - do they get along?

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks like water?

Living with this breed for over twenty years in various climates and traveling nation-wide with my Ridgebacks, I have had the opportunity to witness a lot. I have spoken with a good number of other Ridgeback breeders and owners over the years, and all of them have their opinions about the idea of whether or not Rhodesians like water. You will hear conflicting information about this topic, and once you understand what is going on, its really no mystery as to why.

Getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback to take a swim could be an exercise in futility. In fact, some Ridgebacks will hardly step onto dew covered grass without at least mild protest, if not outright refusal. Bring on a little rain or drizzle, and your Ridgeback may suddenly develop hearing loss when instructed to head outside. About the only other animal I have witnessed putting up so much protest to having water on their paws, are cats. It can be rather hilarious to watch the girations a Ridgeback will go through to avoid getting water on their feet.

On the other hand, some Ridgebacks are thoroughly excited to have a close relationship with water, to the point of romping, diving and swimming. Here is a video of one of our grown up Ridgeback puppies that lives with a couple in the midwest, having a swim.



Many other people that have received puppies from us over the years have had their dogs practically live in the water when the weather is nice. So how do they do it? Why do some Ridgebacks like the water and others do not? The secret is to introduce them to water early, and to reward them. A great way to start out is by having access to a swimming pool. If you do not, then get a childrens plastic pool. The important thing is to expose them early. Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies are very intelligent, and they will respond to your coaxing - especially with treats and lots of positive feedback.

Start off by enticing them to get in a very shallow area of the pool or just fill up the pool a little bit so that the water just covers their feet. Give them treats, play with them and so on. Do this until they get into the pool with confidence. As they do, keep adding water - or if you are on a lake or other small body of water, just keep coaxing them deeper. It wont be long until you have a Ridgeback that loves the water.

Another and easier way is to have another dog playmate that already loves the water. Your Ridgeback will not be able to resist being left out of the fun and frolic.

As you can see, getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback to take to water is pretty much a factor of how much effort you are willing to invest.