If you're reading this, chances are you're getting closer to 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 seen a Rhodesian Ridgeback at a show, maybe a friend has one that you found especially exceptional, or maybe you have seen cute puppy photos - or possibly you have just heard about them. For these and various other reasons, people become attracted to Rhodesian Ridgebacks. However, to obtain one of these admittedly magnificent animals on an impulse could spell disaster if you do not carefully consider all he has to offer - and what demands he'll place on your time in the future.
are "high energy" dogs.
Ridgebacks were bred for indurance - therefore they will need a consistent 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 20 - 30 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, and a nice brisk walk has great health implications for you as well.
It's 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 are great adventures for your pet - and it cannot be over emphasized what a positive impact it will have on your dog.
I have personally found that playing with our Ridgebacks, taking them on walks, or taking them with me for rides in the truck 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 has proven to be invaluable.
What if you live in an apartment?
A Ridgeback probably should not be considered for apartment type living. Although it can be done, the effort of house breaking, and ceremoniously giving your dog the essential routine of exercise, is a major inconvenience for apartment/condominium dwellers. A fenced yard is almost an absolute necessity if you're going to take on the responsibility of Ridgeback ownership.
are social creatures.
You cannot leave them alone for long periods of time. They need "social time" with you. This is especially true of puppies. If a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy is left alone too much, it will not develop psychologically or socially, and this can never be corrected.
"Puppy Socialization" important 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 Ridgie 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.
If you're going to make a commitment to a Rhodesian, 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.
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. Rhodesians grow up to be good sized 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 start toward this goal.
have healthy appetites
A Ridgeback will make you think they are always starving to death. Watch how much you feed them. If you can see 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.
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.
the financial aspect
The initial cost is not the end. Your new family member will need annual vet check-ups, toys, collars, leashes, a special bed and so on. These fianancial needs are continual, throughout your dog's life.
there anything good about a Ridgeback?
A Ridgeback requires a firm commitment to all the foregoing points. However they are well worth the effort:
Their "pack instinct" makes them especially suitable for family life.
They love living with people and are generally quiet.
They are short coated, so do not shed much.
They usually don't have a noticeable odor.
They do not bark indiscriminately – so pay attention if they do bark!
They are not fussy eaters.
They're easy to house break
They always get looks 'cuz they're so handsome!
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 928-532-5933