The 6 Most Common Behavior Problems in Ridgebacks and How to Solve Them

Updated on: Feb 19, 2019
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The 6 Most Common Behavior Problems in Ridgebacks and How to Solve Them

This article will point out the most common problems with the breed’s behavior and ways to overcome them.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback as an African hunter dog is a very smart breed with moderate to high energy levels that sometimes are enhanced by their stubbornness. Because the breed has its hunting background, sometimes there can be some behavioral problems that you have to address properly. This article will point out the most common problems with the breed’s behavior and ways to overcome them.

Although every single dog has an individual temperament and traits, in general, a lot of the Rhodesian Ridgebacks show off the same problems with behavior. The most common are barking, resource guarding, excess energy, possible aggression and destructiveness, chasing instinct, and strong-willed mind.

In the rest of the article we will discuss one by one the behavioral problems of the breed, why those problems occur, and how can you as a devoted owner deal with those problems to make both your life and the life of your dog happier and easier.

1. Barking

Barking is the natural language of all dogs. It is something that is ordinary to them, and we can’t get too much mad over it or try to stop it completely. If you expect your dog never to bark then maybe you should re-consider if having a dog is something that you want. With that being said, some dogs do tend to bark excessively, and that can be the case with more energized dogs like the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Their hunting background is what makes this problem even more common when it comes to this breed.

Back in the day, the Rhodesian Ridgeback was used to hunt big animals in Africa such as lions, bears, and boar. The breed is still used for hunting today, but it is less likely. They are usually now competing in various dog sports, and they are very good pets especially for active families.

Furthermore, the breed is highly intelligent and can be reserved towards strangers. All of these together, make it a good candidate for barking a lot. If the dog is not feeling engaged both physically and mentally, or if the dog is not socialized enough excessive barking can be a very big problem for owners.

If you have these problems with your doggo, there are some things that you can do to make things better.

  • Early training — start teaching your dog the appropriate behavior as soon as you get him or her. Putting things off will just make the situation worse, and as much as it may look hard to teach a small, cute puppy keep in mind that you’re doing it for a better future ahead.
  • Other ways of communication — if you’re going to limit the way of primary communicating that your dog is allowed to do, make sure that you start paying attention to other ways of communication that you didn’t before. For example, if your dog wants to be pet and he or she puts a paw on your lap know what the dog is trying to say.
  • Stimulate the good behavior — when you’re training your dog when not to bark, make sure that you reward any instance when the dog did not bark in a situation that he or she usually does. For example, if the dog usually barks whenever a dog passes by your window, give a snack whenever he or she won’t bark in that situation.
  • Reprimand mistakes — one of the essential things to do is to link inappropriate barking with something that is unpleasant to the dog. For example, some dogs dislike noise so making a loud noise can work, or dogs that dislike water can be gently sprayed with water whenever the barking occurs.

2. Guarding the food

Since the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a hound, guarding the food can be a very often occurrence. Many of the hound breeds showcase this behavior and the reason behind it is that they are predators who live and work in packs, so they have a natural instinct to protect the food from the other members of the pack. Although this behavior is the most common with food, it can also happen with other objects that they favor around the house.

It is important for you to know not to punish your pup for this behavior since it is something that is very natural to him or her. Instead, make sure that you teach him good behavior habits since the first day that you meet. Teaching your dog that good things happen when a human approaches with food is crucial for not having problems in the future. Positive associations are a very good approach in this case.

Usually, dogs exhibit these behaviors since when they are little puppies. The breeders don’t usually put too much effort into this problem since they mostly focus on qualities that are important for testing in shows. However, puppies develop this behavioral problem since they are born and have to compete with their siblings for milk which sometimes can be scarce. The more dominant puppies end up eating a bigger share, and as a result to that they grow up faster and end up monopolizing the bowls. This behavior continues throughout their lives if they are not taught otherwise.

If you are having problems with food possession with your Rhodesian Ridgeback, you can do the following things:

  • Feed the puppy by hand — give the puppy treats while speaking to them gently and pet them with your other hand. Similarly to this, feed the puppy by holding the bowl in your hand and while they are eating keep petting them and speaking to them gently.
  • Drop treats in his bowl — while the puppy is eating, gently approach and place a treat into their food. This way you will make a positive association with humans being around their bowl during feeding time.
  • Seek professional help — this behavior is not something to be taken lightly, especially when it is happening in big breeds like Rhodesian Ridgebacks. If the situation is dangerous for you and your family, seek out professional trainers that will be able to work on this behavior better than you.

3. Being overly energetic

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed that is fairly large and energetic. Given its size and temperament, the dog can easily crush all your tableware with his tail while turning around in your living room. The male Rhodesian Ridgeback can reach a height of 63-69cm and weight of 36-41km, whereas the females can reach a height of 61-66cm with the weight of 29-34kg. This surely is a lot, and given the hunting background of the breed, they do have an excess of energy that they need to burn out. If you are a busy person with many obligations and you’re looking for a dog that you can mostly keep in your house or apartment, you should consider another breed.

In the past, humans gave purpose to our Canine friends, as they needed help with their everyday tasks. Both the people and the dogs benefited from this newfound connection, and that is how dogs became men’s best friends. Back then dogs were all specializing in some activity. Some of them were hunters, some of them were guardians of the property, some were herding flocks, and some were hauling supplies of snow and ice. Some breeds even helped with children. The problems started when human beings stopped needing dogs as much in their tasks and made dogs, well, bored.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were used for hunting lions and bears! You can only imagine how much energy and devotion that required out of them. They are also extremely smart which as an addition to their energetic nature can make them impossible to keep on track.

If you are constantly woken up at 4 a.m. by your Rhodesian Ridgeback trying to play and running up and down the stairs, you might want to take some precautions to stop that from happening.

  • Exercise — high levels of energy require high levels of exercise! It’s just how it is, and you have to think about this before you get the dog. A lengthy walk at least once a day will burn off the excess energy that the dog has, and playing things like fetch, tug-of-war, or else will just make the experience much more stimulating for the dog. This breed is perfect for people or families that are active and want to swim, hike, run, or cycle since the dog can be your companion.
  • Mental engagement — along with physical exercises, engage the dog mentally so you can exhaust them even more. Teach the dog obedience tricks or commands. Get some doggie games with prizes that will make feel the dog like he is working to get the food.
  • Food prize toys — include this mentality into the every-day feeding regimen. Instead of just putting the food in a bowl, make the dog works for it by putting it into one of the many food prize toys that can be found in pet stores.

4. Leaning towards aggression and destructiveness

As mentioned previously, mental and physical engagement is absolutely necessary for keeping your Rhodesian Ridgeback from digging up your whole garden. Being destructive can be a sign of an under-exercised doggo that has a lot of energy and finds ways to get it out. A tired dog is a good dog.

Going once again back to their nature, it makes absolute sense that this breed of dogs can get possessive towards their territory, food, and members of the pack and unfriendly with some strangers. It is in their nature to try and protect what is theirs and this can often lead to aggression towards strangers which is absolutely unacceptable behavior.

Aggression and destructiveness can make the breed look bad and certainly brings a bad reputation on it. However, if you are dedicated to training your dog properly you can achieve many things. There are many types of aggression that can be developed such as territorial, protective, possessive, fear, defensive, social, frustration-elicited, pain-elicited, sex-related, predatory aggression and more! The best thing to do if you are dealing with an aggressive dog is to take it to the vet.

Sometimes aggression is a symptom of an underlying disease such as hypothyroidism, some neurological problems, or other medical conditions. If the vet doesn’t find anything, the problem is purely behavioral and you have to seek help there as well. Since aggression is one of the most serious problems that your dog might have with their behavior, attempting to fix it on your own might be dangerous and you might do more damage. A professional trainer will observe your dog and pinpoint the exact reason why the dog behaves aggressively.

An aggressive or destructive dog does not know that the behavior is unacceptable and trying to punish the instances in which the dog does that can backfire and only escalate the aggression. If the dog is growling and you try yelling or hitting the dog, the dog will probably instinctively defend itself.

Also, for example, if the dog is growling in the presence of children he or she is signaling that children are not a comfortable environment to be in. If you punish the dog for growling, the next time the dog might just bite the kid without warning whatsoever because you taught the dog that growling is bad.

5. Strong chasing instinct

Do not be surprised if you are walking your Rhodesian Ridgeback and he or she spots a cat, squirrel, raccoon or even another dog and just lounges at them! The predatory instincts that the breed has will almost for sure make him or her chase other animals. After all, that was literally their job and it’s in their blood.

When it comes to socialization with other dogs, the Rhodesian Ridgeback can exhibit aggression since they like to be dominant and Alfa dogs in every encounter. It is important to be aware of this behavioral problem and to correctly deal with it since you don’t want your pup to hurt any other animal!

There are some things you can do to ensure that you take the necessary precautions:

  • Keep the dog on a leash — this is a smart thing to do since you will be more in control of what the dog is able to reach. Leashing the dog is also a safer option than letting it run free, especially when it comes to such strong and energetic breeds such as the Rhodesian Ridgeback.
  • Add a bell to the collar of your dog — this will alert any animals when your dog charges at them and they will have enough time to run away. This is not an ideal solution, but if it’s going to keep other animals safe it’s worth mentioning.
  • Keep the dog tired — this tip usually works on every behavioral problem that your dog might have. If the dog is tired of exercising, you can easily train him or her to get friendly with other animals.
  • Watch the body language of the dog — it’s very important for you to be aware of when the dog spots and animal and is ready to charge right at it, so you can stop be unwanted behavior before it occurs
  • Redirect the dog — if you mastered the previous thing, then you will be able to redirect the attention of the dog at the right moment. A thing that works is connected to their sense of smell which is pretty strong. Carry very tasty treats that smell nice to the dog and hold the dog’s focus on the treat as you walk past by the distraction.

6. Strong-willed mind and stubbornness

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed that needs a strong Alfa in the pack that will be dominant and that will lead. Without strong leadership, the dog will very easy assert itself as the pack leader, and that is when many behavioral problems start. The stubbornness that they have and the high intelligence will make your daily life a struggle!

A firm hand and consistent training can fix this. Make sure that you always keep in mind that you are the dominant pack leader and that the dog has to follow the rules. Training the dog with that in mind will be easier, but overall, a lot of experts do not recommend the breed to first-time dog owners because of these reasons. You need a strong determination because even if you are unsure for one moment, they can easily assert dominance. If the dog already took the Alfa spot, and you are not experienced in dog training, the best thing to do is seek professional help to avoid any further behavioral problems connected to your beloved pet.

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