In comparison with other breeds, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a very eccentric dog. A grown up Rhodesian Ridgeback is independent, aloof to strangers and exudes tranquillity of mind. He also shows a certain way of arrogance and self confidence. But looks can be deceiving.
A young Rhodesian Ridgeback overshadows the adult hound in his characteristic behavior with all his mischief, stubbornness and exaggeration. In the first months of this youthful innocence it is important to assert yourself to be a calm and assertive leader.
A Rhodesian Ridgeback is special regarding imprinting. He shows a special way of associative ability and picks up any impression in his environment, as well as positive as negative ones. It's a very sensitive breed (other than what his tough appearance might look like). An honest, consistent approach is essential for expressing his normal behavior during his life.
Like all the other hunting dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks mature very late. Male dogs need to mature mentally until two and a half years of age. Female dogs tend to achieve this mature mental state a bit sooner.
His determination, his own will and his sense of self-esteem make that you cannot force a Rhodesian Ridgeback to surrender. This hound considers himself being a partner, not a slave, and he should be treated as such. So forceful training methods are not to be used when raising a Ridgeback! The only way for a Ridgeback to function normally is based on mutual respect and a proper, consistent way of training. You only get respected if you be respectful yourself.
Not everybody is suitable to have a Rhodesian Ridgeback! Not everyone can give a Ridgeback a proper education and lifestyle. It takes a lot of energy being consistent every time again and again... This means raising a Ridgeback takes a lot of time and effort. This has to be considered very carefully before getting a Ridgeback puppy!
As a member of the family a Ridgeback demonstrates extraordinary loyalty and dedication to his family, often selecting one individual to be his superior. It is of utmost importance that one of the household is fit to take this role. A consistent figure, who takes on most of the care is in most cases the chosen one. Often this means indeed the misses of the family.
People often say that YOU own a Ridgeback. A Rhodesian Ridgeback doesn't agree with that; he thinks he "owns" you. That's why a Ridgeback is an excellent bodyguard. And he will take this task very seriously. He considers your belongings to be his too and will protect it by any means necessary. He doesn't bark excessively, only to warn you for danger or any possible intruder. A characteristic behavior, linked to a relative lazy lifestyle is typical for a Ridgeback.
Children are tolerated in different ways. This can vary from indifference to affectionate. But a Ridgeback (or any dog for that matter) has to be respected and cannot be treated like a toy. Though a Ridgeback has a high irritation threshold, in the end even he will not tolerate this. Your children needs to know when they need to leave the dog alone, and when it's allowed (and how) to play. Children should never be left alone with any dog. Also young children cannot walk a Ridgeback by themselves. A child will not be seen as a superior and they don't have the physical strength to hold on to the Ridgeback in a dog - dog or dog - man encounter, with all possible outcomes. Don't forget that the Rhodesian Ridgeback takes his task as a bodyguard of the family very seriously. Keep this in mind when any outsider try to get near your children, when asking a friend to pick up the kids or when other children enter the garden to play. They will protect them, with all the possible consequences...
Being lazy by nature, a Ridgeback will not waste any unnecessary energy to achieve his goal. He will be happy to spend his time napping, preferably in the hot sun or in front of the fireplace, lying in most unusual poses. This can be seen as opposite of the breed description being an energetic and dynamic hound a Ridgeback is considered. For his exercise long walks or bicycle tours (trotting, not galloping) are in order. The owner has to be active himself to get a Ridgeback in motion. He is not a type of dog to fetch a ball for the 10th time in a row while his owner is standing still doing nothing. You will not make a Ridgeback happy with things like that. Exercising your Ridgeback will keep him fit, healthy and his mind stable. A bored Ridgeback can turn your household in a pile of junk in just a few minutes.
Normally a Rhodesian Ridgeback will not fight without a reason. It's a type of dog that tries to avoid conflicts when this is possible. If not, often just showing off a little dominance is often enough to make the other dog retreat. But if harassed a Ridgeback will eventually stand his ground making himself very clear. Often pinning down the harasser until that one surrenders. On the other hand a young adolescent Ridgeback must be made clear that he cannot harass other dogs himself. Being big and strong some of these Ridgebacks want to explore their boundaries like some adolescents do. It is of utmost importance that the owner shows where these boundaries lie and act appropriately when necessary. Addressing this behavior by controlled interaction with older stable dogs will help tremendously because of their clear and decisive interaction with the adolescent.
A Ridgeback has a sharp eye and sense of smell. He is open to impressions and has a sixth sense for danger, like which can be seen in wild animals. This might be the merit of the big game hunters who implemented a strict selection. These are lots of characteristics which are embedded in the Rhodesian Ridgebacks DNA. Like some (young) Ridgebacks tend to be aloof in altered situations they normally know. Let him explore the new situation at his own pace. He will grow more confident every time. This is an important part of the socialization period.
A Rhodesian Ridgeback is an intelligent and dedicated dog. He won't hide his affection. He is a loyal and affectionate fellow companion for anyone who treats him in a honest way. A companion who in extreme situations is willing and capable of exceptional performances...