Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Easy to Train?

No! And despite all the fun photos and videos I post, we’re always working on some kind of training – failing in new and spectacular ways each day. I’m often asked about the behavioral challenges of training off-leash so I put together this longer video of our imperfect efforts to corral Zero’s alpha tendencies.

If you’re struggling with your own dog’s behavior, I hope you find the video a helpful reminder that even D-list famous Ridgebacks aren’t all they might seem. If you aren’t struggling with your dog’s behavior, well then just feel free to enjoy watching one man’s flailing attempts at taming the chaos!

30 thoughts on “Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Easy to Train?”

  1. awesome to see; recall is not an easy feat in RR’s… I still struggle with it…would be great to see how you do your recalls with them? every little bit helps the wider community 🙂

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  2. I haven’t had any issues with my female Ridgeback and other dogs, she’s pretty submissive. In fact, seems to prefer staying away from both little dogs and very big dogs, choosing usually to play with dogs just about her size to a little smaller. The only behavioral issue I’ve had with her at all really is her counter surfing. I have been unable to break her of it, even going so far as a shock collar. I set up the scenario: dog biscuit on the counter and shock collar on. I moved out of sight and waited. She went for the biscuit, got a shock, endured it to get the biscuit. Every. Single. Time. Fortunately I live alone, so I can control food placement most of the time, but when family comes over, Sookie has to be banned while food is out.
    Any suggestion would be appreciated, but she’s 8 now, I’m not sure it isn’t too late. Just this morning, I went to get a cup of coffee and left a sweet roll on a plate, honestly where I thought it would be out of reach, and warned her the whole two minutes I was gone. But she managed to get the roll. She spent some immediate time banished to her bed, but I’m sure it didn’t matter. And I don’t dare turn my back on a stick of butter, she’ll down it whole as she heads out the door. Sigh.

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    • We had good success training our first rr/chow rescue to stay off the table. He was highly food oriented. We used an empty 2L bottle. 1. Catch dog surfing. 2. Calmly remove dog from table, and give your preferred verbal command. 3. Now, commence to put a beat down on the table with the bottle, scold the table, etc. 4. When done praise dog for being a good pup, or whatever you need to do so the dog is clear that they are not in trouble, only the table is in trouble for tempting the dog.

      Our dog quickly figured out he didn’t want to do whatever it was, that got the table in trouble! It worked well for us.

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  3. Everything just so true! We all have our educational Waterloo’s-
    Just yesterday Tsala met another intact male, much smaller but very self confident. This dog was just provoking for about ten minutes- including mounting on our dog. Tsala ignored him for a very
    long time- than we within seconds he turned the little one onto his back- well nothing happened but it looked impressive and you might find dog owners frightened 🤪

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    • Apt comparison, because like Napoleon, Penny keeps coming back for another fight! My little secret is that I kind of love when other dogs think Penny and Zero are good targets for bullying. They are always quickly disabused of that notion!

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  4. Another really great video! I don’t have Ridgeback’s but I still learn so much about dog behavior and body language. I’m curious about Zero still being in tact. Will this be permanent, and if so, is it for health reasons?

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    • Primarily kept him intact for long term health outcomes, but as a distant secondary reason I’d also like to get him in the show ring to earn some championship points for his breeder’s resume.

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      • What are the advantages for long-term health outcomes? I had always heard that the lack of sex hormones reduces the chance of cancer. Has the medical thinking changed? Thanks so much!

      • The latest research suggests delaying spay/neuter until after the full sexual development of the dog improves joint/skeletal health while also reducing the incidence of some cancers/ailments. As you say, an intact dog is obviously at risk for things like testicular cancer in males or pyometra in females. It’s not a right or wrong answer really, more of just something everyone should be informed about in order to make the best decision for their dog in their sutuation.

      • Very interesting. I had hoped to wait until my golden retriever Eli was two for his neuter. But he developed a torsion of one of his testicles and we had to do it at a year and eight months. So I’m hoping that he had close to full sexual development. He is my service dog so I am very concerned about his joint and skeletal health, since he accompanies me everywhere, and helps me with balance.

      • Large data sets can never predict what will happen for every individual dog, and there are so many variables which go into the health and longevity of each dog. That you’re so thoughtful about Eli’s health is the best indicator you’ll make the best choices for him.

      • I sure do the best. Last year reading about the dilated cardiomyopathy that was popping up in young golden retrievers gave me a scare. We had Eli evaluated by a cardiologist, and changed his diet. They are our family members so they definitely get the best of care!

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