The Rhodesian Ridgeback, or African Lion Dog, although bred to hunt lions and known for its bravery, also has a sensitive side and needs to be handled with care. Rough handling and harsh training techniques will not work with this breed.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks, or any breed, respond well to treats. If you take your Rhodesian Ridgeback to a pet supply store like Petco or Petsmart, which allow dogs to shop there, you can test out what kinds of treats he’ll like. Hold a packet of treats to your dog’s mouth and when he wags his tail, you’ll know he’s got a treat that will work.
The best time of day to train your Rhodesian Ridgeback is before his usual dinner time. Wear a bag of small treats around your waist.
Gently push down on your dog’s hindquarters while saying, “Sit.” When he achieves a sitting position, give him a treat. Repeat this until your dog learns to associate the command with the action. He then gives the command and waits for the action before giving the reward. If your Rhodesian Ridgeback sees the treat and jumps up, don’t give him the treat. He or she must be seated at the time the award is given. If your dog runs to the door and scares guests when the doorbell rings, the “sit” command will prevent him from running to the door. It’s also good at the vet’s office or anywhere you want your Rhodesian Ridgeback to stay calm and not get involved with other pets or people.
Leash walking is another good skill to teach your Rhodesian Ridgeback. Wear a comfortable fabric collar. You should be able to insert two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck to make sure it is not too tight. The leash must be 6 feet long. Say “Come on” and walk forward, holding onto the end of the leash. If your dog tries to pull in the opposite direction or pull on the leash, stop and go the other way, so he learns that the walk will only start with proper behavior.
The “leave” command is good for any dog to learn, but particularly a large one. Hold a treat in front of you while saying “Leave it.” Remove the treat and substitute another treat with the other hand. After this is repeated a few times, your Rhodesian Ridgeback will learn that good things come from obeying this command.
In addition to dog training, another way to bond with your Rhodesian Ridgeback is through play. Just as humans join in having fun together, dogs like to play. Get a ball that is small enough for your dog to pick up easily, but too big to swallow. Show your dog the ball and act enthusiastic. Throw the ball and say “Fetch” or “Ball.” This will excite your Rhodesian Ridgeback’s natural desire to chase things. He or she will want to retrieve it as part of a fun game. Running together is also a good way to bond. If you’re running on city streets, run at a time of day when the streets aren’t too hot for your dog’s feet. Be sure to wear a leash even in the field, so your Rhodesian Ridgeback doesn’t take off after rabbits and squirrels.
Many people enjoy talking to their dogs as a form of bonding, and this can also cause unconscious training to occur. Dogs can learn to understand many words if they hear them consistently in given situations. If, for example, you always say “Let’s go in”, when you enter the house, the dog will learn to approach the door when he hears that phrase. Of course, this is not always a good thing. If your dog learns to associate the word “vet” with pricks, he may need to avoid saying it. Have fun bonding with your Rhodesian Ridgeback.