Living with Ridgeback
Maybe after reading ‘the breed‘ page you feel, my Dear Reader, that you have just found a dog for yourself.
Please stop for a while.
Are you and the conditions at your disposal appropriate for the breed? Just imagine how awful it would be, after a long waiting for the right puppy, making quite a high payment for him, incurring the costs of dog “layette” (pans, leash, mattress, pup food), living through the not particularly pleasant moments connected with the first difficult puppy weeks, you live through all of these just to learn that your house / garden / every day routines / children / friends or beloved mother-in-law are entirely not adapted to living together with the chosen breed. This may cause many troubles among the family, and even break your heart….
Decision as to choosing Ridgeback has to be made by the whole family, after many discussions and detailed planning. Visits at other owners / breeders and observation of RRs at their home environment will tell you a lot about the breed, its advantages and disadvantages and surely will help you to choose the best puppy.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Clubs operating in many countries issue information materials about the breed and how to choose the right sex. Getting acquainted with similar works will be very helpful while making such an important decision. Many requirements related with the breed are simply a common sense ones. Nevertheless, if you want to have just a handsome dog, not paying much attention to anything else, the problems are just approaching you …
Consider all pros and cons in detail, before you MAKE A DECISION…
Is your house and surroundings appropriate?
Ridgebacks are quite big animals, although not much noisy or troublesome, they need a suitable space at home. They are not much suitable for living in flats, but on the other hand they do not require a palace. Sometimes they may happen to find themselves right under your legs, particularly in a small kitchen it can be dangerous, thus a spacious flat or small house would be absolutely enough. In a room corner or in other place there should be a small space earmarked especially for the dog, where he can rest undisturbed. Thus the animal will have the chance to clear from your way or eyes when he starts to disturb and for example during cleaning or kids plays there would be no fear that he will appear just under somebody`s legs and cause to fall by accident. We should also take into account garden or our dwelling place surroundings.
RRs do not require especially large gardens. Many people think that the bigger the dog is, the bigger the garden should be. Actually, it does not have to be true. Generally, dogs do not exercise themselves but they are very happy when they can lie down in a small garden in the sun… If you, Dear Reader, are a keen gardener and your garden is a piece of art full of unique and precious plants, think twice before you decide to share your life with Ridgeback as he does not have much respect for garden arrangements. Our garden fence, actually a run for the dog, also constitutes a very important factor.
Ridgebacks are very good jumpers, they are able to work acrobatic wonders especially when a bitch with a heat appears in the neighbourhood. Generally, one should not worry as RRs are attached to their home and territory and rarely roam, if for boredom. Requirements as to RR adult exercise are very simple, however one has to remember he is a hound. Inappropriate exercise will lead to uncontrolled weight rise, undeveloped musculature also to boredom, and bored Ridgeback is a big problem to his master and surroundings.
Dog on a move
Basic requirement is a walk once a day during which RR may jump, run and play with other dog unrestrained. There are no special requirements as to exercise type and their duration, surely your Ridgeback will be fully satisfied with an hour or so unrestrained running in a field or forest. They feel extremely well while accompanying their master riding a bicycle… Unfortunately, an evening walk with your doggy for a newspaper to the newspaper stand or just letting him out to the garden for him to take care of his matters on his own is definitely not enough. A few kilometre walk on the leash equals less than 20 minutes intensive running or play with other big dog or half and hour run next to his master running or riding a horse. Mixed exercises would be ideal ? for some time on the leash so as the dog could feel he is under control, and some time spent for mad playing with other dog (however also under control) with a chance of as fast and intensive running as possible. A competent adjusting the exercises to the dog`s requirements and your own daily routine, right recognising of the dog`s rituals will result in well-mannered and properly behaving dog. A few words of warning: before you let your Ridgeback run freely (you unleash him) make sure, that you are far enough from roads, railways, herd of sheep or cattle. Ridgeback once he drops on a trace of something interesting he will be persistently tacking down regardless of any dangers he may encounter. And with the greater passion he will be hunting for whatever running away from him- it may be a rabbit, hare, anyway a promise of free of charge dinner. If the “victim” of the chase appears to be sheep, poultry, accidental runner or somebody else`s dog, the consequences may be quite unpleasant.
When talking about other dogs it is worth mentioning that despite the fact that Ridgebacks are not aggressive, their way of playing is rather crude. It seems to them there is no end for the chase other dog game that is just desperately trying to escape, whereas our beloved RR grabs him with pleasure, makes to fall with a skilful knock in shoulder blades and after the victim of the fatal game`s somersault, does not allow for him stand-up still being assured they both have a great time. At the same time we are desperately trying to explain to the nervous master that our Ridgeback is just having fun and his Fido will live through it and will be running happily as ever! Many RR owners claim that the best hours for walks with the dog are the early morning hours, when other masters and their dogs are still at home.
Puppies up till they are 6 months old should not intensely exercise that is before they have the period of fast growth behind them. However, they should have the possibility of frisking as much as they wish during rather short distance walks, gradually we may increase their length. At the dog`s age we should make every effort so as the pup could have the possibility of meeting other dogs, preferably without leash, but under his master control. A proper training is one of the most important elements of Ridgeback breeding, because if not well-trained, unrunned about or what is worse left at his own, he will become a sociopath and will drive anyone having a closer contact with to a splitting headache. Particularly, young males are quite resistant as to breeding, unruly and criss-crossing, that is why a proper training is indispensable.
Children and family members
One of the most frequently asked questions by the would-be Ridgeback masters is “What are they like towards children” There is no univocal answer. Ridgebacks much the same as people differ from one another as far as their attitude towards children is concerned ? most of them love children, some of them just tolerate them, few do not like them. For sure RRs are great family dogs, sensible and responsible. Nevertheless, kids should not tease or trouble the dog no mater how tolerant he is; as every living creature his patience also has got limits. Usually, when Ridgeback has got enough of a little kid, will go away for his escape with a glare full of remorse directed at adults. The dog should have such a place, where he can escape from kid without fearing for its quietness and safety. A child and a young dog playing together is a wonderful picture, but you have always control them as a scratch caused by an amused puppy or a joyful energetic lick may turn a full of joy play into torrential rain of tears and repercussions, which could really destroy even the best friendship between the little man and dog.
If RR puppy arrives at home, where other animals are already living at, it is no problem. If you introduce the new-comer in an appropriate way, you will be pleasantly surprised how fast he will become an integral part of the animal family, sharing his place with cats, rabbits and other “fur wearers”. However, outside home, not a member of the great and really paradise-like harmony, either a stranger cat or rabbit or other animal being a perfect target of playing should know one thing, when Ridgeback appears he should run as fast as he can and hide! It is extremely important to introduce a puppy to a dog already living with us. A puppy surely will concentrate most of our attention reserved before for our dog – resident. That is why we should make efforts so as our old dog does not feel rejected ? he should as the first one receive dainties, meals and be fondled and generally feel he is still Number One. Our new puppy will have nothing against it, as it is normal that he has the lowest position in pack hierarchy. It often happens that a puppy is being ?adopted? by the veteran dog and we can observe moving pictures of our rheumatised old friend gambolling with a puppy as if there were no significant age gap between them.
More rodhesians in the house
You have to remember one thing if you already have Ridgeback and are planning another one. As adult dogs, when they freely, run they co-operate as a team. When separated they allow for control and are rather obedient, as a team they tend to chase various animals and creatures, not necessarily in order to hunt or hurt, nevertheless the effects can prove quite blood-stirring. Their pre-historical hunting instinct is somewhere close to the good manners and in favourable conditions they throw off the mask…
Many dogs, big and small ones have been ill treated by a couple of revelling Ridgebacks, just training the technique of knocking on neck or shoulder. The same way they will hunt for wild boar, buffalo or lynx, although at this time it was just a game… Usually, when the “victim” has had enough and will clearly let know about it, Ridgeback leaves the field with his tail raised, but it may result in scratches and RRs master may hear a loud and unpleasant reprimand. A couple of Ridgebacks running unrestrained is a great picture, a volcano of energy, demonstration of strength and agility, chase and knocking down game, all of these in a silent and dumb scenery without a bark or snarl. Being an owner of two or three Ridgebacks is said to be a great pleasure and pride, on the other hand, it is also a duty and the owner has to reserve quite a lot of time for his pets breeding and training. For a few RRs master walking along the fields and forests may change him, in his imagination, into a “Great White Hunter” creeping in the bush for dangerous beasts. Observing two or three Ridgebacks acting as if following invisible orders, at the same time hunting, waiting, creeping with feline movements, on soft paws, when their muscles delicately play under the skin, swiftly starting to run all of these will move your imagination. The only thing you should remember about is that within the view there should be no sheep, cattle or horses grazing; please catch your dog in time.
Ridgebacks are sometimes trained as retrieving dogs, although it is against their true instincts. They are not enthusiastic about water, it may take you a couple of hours to convince a Ridgeback to abandon the comfort of a dry land and emerge into a cold muddy waters of a pond or river only to bring his master a dead duck. Everything depends on their adaptation skills!
Dear Breeders and RRs Masters- if in the above text you will find a statement with which you do not agree or you feel something was omitted, please accept my apology in advance, but you know very well one can talk about the breed never ending and still the subject will not be exhausted….