Ridgelea Rhodesian Ridgebacks

By Natalie Bandeian-Zoll

The Ridgelea Rhodesian Ridgebacks have been raised in my house with the best of care and lots of love.  Because I put so much effort and love into raising my pups, I want only the best home environment for them.  I would like the new owners to keep in touch with me, to keep me informed of the puppy's progress as he is growing up and as an older dog.  If any problems develop, I want to know about them.  And I would be grateful if from time to time you could send me photos of your dog as he or she is growing up.  If for any reason you need help on health problems, behavior problems, etc., please call me anytime of the day or night.  If I can not answer your question, I will do my best to help find the answer.

Before I will consider selling one of my Ridgebacks, I would like to clarify several points which I feel are essential for the well-being of both my pups and their owners.

Ridgebacks are members of the Hound Group.  They are both sight and scent hounds  They were bred to zero in on their prey and hold it at bay.  This is their natural instinct. 

A fenced in yard is required (a minimum of five feet tall, preferably six feet).  Picket fences are extremely dangerous unless they have a top rail.  If the fenced in area is small, some arrangement needs to be made so that the dog gets plenty of exercise at least once a day:  i.e. owner jogs with dog on leash, or running in an enclosed area-park or school yard, etc., or playing with other dogs.  Under no circumstances can these dogs be allowed to run free.  Ridgebacks are fearless and not afraid of cars.  Serious long distance jogging cannot be attempted before the dog is 1.5 to 2 years old.  These dogs cannot be chained or tied outside.  Under no conditions should a Ridgeback ever ride in the back of an open pickup truck.

A young Ridgeback that does not get enough exercise will not be a happy dog and this can lead to destructive behavior such as chewing, etc., out of boredom.  And this means unhappy owners.  This is also true if the pup does not get enough attention.

Ridgebacks need to be an integral part of the family.  They are highly sensitive and intelligent and need to be given lots of love and attention.  My dogs must live in the house, (not in the back yard in a dog house, not in the garage, not in the basement.)  They can never be left alone while their owners go away for the weekend or a few days.  If you go on trips, get a folding crate and take the dog with you.  If this is not possible, have a friend or relative either keep the dog for you or come to live in your house to "dog sit." Kennel the dog in a reputable kennel which you have first inspected only as a last resort. To leave a Ridgeback alone for a few days without human contact is devastating.

Ridgebacks should not be allowed to free feed because of the danger of bloat.  Until 6 months of age they are fed three times a day, and from 6 months on, twice a day.  They need to be fed one of the premium dog foods found in pet and grain stores, such as Solid Gold, Annamet or Pinnacle Dog Food Products.

A crate is necessary to begin the training of the dog.  Until the dog is fully trustworthy, he should be left in the crate when no one is home (but not for periods longer than 2 or 3 hours at this age, eventually 3-5 hours as the pup gets older).  Foam beds are dangerous.  These pups should be old enough to spend a 5 or 6 hour night in the crate without an accident.  Their last meal should be between 5 and 6 pm and water should be taken away after 10 pm.

Pups need to attend a basic obedience class.  At home in training a Ridgeback, consistency and firmness (while being fair) are essential.  They are adorable pups, but they must not be allowed to get away with bad behavior because they are cute.  Gentle but firm control of the dog is essential.

If you do not want your adult dog to jump on you, do not allow this behavior as a puppy.  If you do not want your adult dog to sleep on your bed or on your furniture, do not allow the puppy to sleep there.  Be consistent.  Do not tell the pup "No" one night, and the next night allow him to sleep with you.  Many people, including myself, allow our dogs to sleep on one designated sofa, but if you do not want your sofa or beds taken over, don't allow it from the the beginning.  Ridgebacks need a comfortable bed of their own, such as the 45" round beds, which have covers that can be removed and washed.

A puppy which is sold as pet quality will be given a limited registration with the American Kennel Club.  This means that this puppy cannot be shown in the conformation ring and cannot be bred.  Pet males and pet females must be spayed or neutered, as well as show quality puppies which will not be shown and are sold under “pet” quality conditions.  It is highly recommended not to spay females until they are at least 10 to 12 months old and not to neuter males until they are at least 1 1/2 years old.

When a puppy is sold as "show potential", and if the puppy develops as expected, the owner accepts the responsibility to see that the dog is shown to his or her championship.  I will be available to help in that endeavor. 

Raising a puppy requires a great deal of time, energy and love  Think of this endeavor as adopting a child -- a responsibility that will last 10 to 15 years.  If your lifestyle is too hectic because of work or family, please reconsider your decision to add a Ridgeback to your family.  A happy, well-adjusted dog gives the most pleasure and happiness to his owners.

To repeat, Ridgebacks are demanding of your attention and your love.  They are independent thinkers.  Be certain that this is the right dog for you before you make this commitment.

Whether you choose a Ridgeback or another breed of dog, I strongly recommend you read from cover to cover How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With by Rutherford and Neil, Alpine Publications, approx. $10.