Training of ridgebacks

RR and training our opinion:

We are working with our dogs mainly because we enjoy it, we do not like to idle and of course also because we are very happy of all the advances and successes we achieved in our collective working. Just the joint teamplay, contact and teamwork between man and a dog is for us the biggest and greatest reward and pleasure. The mutual cooperation is also deepening and refining a relationship of the owner and the dog. The fact that your dog is willing and able to work for you with joy, self-denial and confidence in any environment, weather and time, is evidence of genuine partnership and the excellent relationship between you two.

One another reason of our working with ridgebacks is also to show to a cynology public that even the Ridgeback can be a top quality working dog, and so we would like to change the current, not too positive opinion about the working usability of our breed what I meet every day, and what I am really very sorry with. However, now, even at the beginning of our efforts, we are changing slowly opinions and experiences of some meritorious sports cynologists .. :o)

Unfortunately, I have met over the years with the view (and even from ridgebacks population!), that ridgeback is in no way suited to the training of scent work or obedience, because it is a hunting dog and so it´s not suitable for the breed to train a ridgeback in these disciplines. Such opinions must comes only from an absolute ignorance of the existing dilemma and – unfortunately – does not help or promote in any way to reverse the general reputation which we created about RR breed and its working abilities.

Ridgeback – originally as a hunting breed has an excellent sense of scent (intentionally I write here the word “intenionally” because ridgeback in our conditions has never been, is not and I dare say it will not be actively used in the hunting. It is a nonsence to discuss about sporadically passed hunting exams with the only one purpose to be able enter at shows into a working class without further utilization in real hunting use and work). For each dog is to trace a track literally vital activity even when the dog is already domesticated for many generations because tracking and hunting instinct is strongly kept in dog´s minds. Thus – it is a natural ability. Tracking is very natural for all dogs and so it could be easily developed and it could among others contributes to a meaningful use of leisure time.
Training for scent work is for ridgeback one of the most natural activities what he could do and thanks to its quality of nose and in the case of good leadership the ridgeback could achieve a great results. Tracking is not nothing more than deepening of hunting skills, what should be absolutely innate for a hunting breed and so also for rhodesian ridgeback! Recently it shows that hunting dogs can and are able to compete with special working breeds (e.g. German Shepherds,..) in scent works and police forces began use hunting dogs as a service dogs because of their natural talents.

And obedience? – firstly – also a hunting dog have to be obedient, manageable and controllable for the first command of a leader, because otherwise a work with dog beyond control in a chase area full of wild animals is purposeless. Often the hunting dog must be manageable only at a gesture or whistle without any further verbal command. Thus also an obedience is a natural part of any good hunting dog of any hunting breed where rhodesian ridgeback belongs too!

And secondly – I am a stickler for a standpoint, that that every dog (of any breed) should have acquired the basics of obedience and should be fully controlled and influenced by its owner, in any surrounding and in any situation. Unfortunately, the practice is mostly diametrically different.

There is a first inevitable prerequisite to a dog would do its owner happy and not prepare to the owner hard time is that the four-legged pet just has mastered basic obedience.

Moreover – ridgeback – not only in his homeland – was used as a guard dog or watchdog and in some countries also for service purposes, so for such dog would not be hard to train obedience or tracking.
From the mentioned above results, that abilities and talent for deepening of obedience or tracking talent should have each hunting breed (also ridgeback) and just only depends on the owner which way he/she fares forth, what aim they want to achieve and at what level they want to get.

In my opinion there is better ANY activity for a dog (no matter if hunting or not) with its owner what they like to do together than NONE!

o that´s why I really do not understand the skepticism of some people who absurdly criticize the obedience training or tracking and intensively dispraise a work of other people in spite of the fact that they they do NOTHING with their wouldbe “hunting” dog less so the hunting training what they brandish with a lot ..
Withal the mentioned critics does not interfere with the fact that at present the majority of the ridgeback population pays no another activity than just regular participation in shows, although this activity has to by them so much proclaimed hunting training for miles away …
It is interesting preoccupation.

By the way if in breeding does not exist some selection of characters and there is only selection for exteriour (and partialy of healt), nobody pursues natures and at the same time in the population appear big differences in the characters of dogs (aggression, shyness, weakness or nervous system, instability) so each endeavour about working with ridgebacks should be considered as a positive thing. Because at least at some individuals, especially at dogs with higher types of exams, examines and proves the characters, nerves and the working abilities and those informations can be used in further breeding.

Indeed we consider at formerly really used working breed as the top of usability to girdle several circles in the show ring??

I am convinced that if there would be more working ridgebacks it would definitely benefit to the breed …

Personally we train obedience not only for the reasons mentioned above – simply because I could not bear the feeling that my dog is uncontrollable or simply he ignores me – but we also train the obedience because of the fact that by improving of obedience there is also improving of tracking, what is very important for my future plans.

With my dogs we train several times a week. Trainings are usually divided into individual days according disciplines and we gauge the trainings according to their performance and exporuse. Regular trainings are important in the case that we we set specific aims (exams, races,..) and a concrete time periods (month, year) in which we want to achieve these goals. Hereat it is very important to find the optimal balance in training – to have contented dog what is achieving results and improvings and what is not jaded and fed up from working. It is not so easy to poise that – to achieve results and not take the dog all the flavor and interest to work.. Sometimes it’s extremely difficult thing what strongly affects the working of the dog. Very important for to not make a fault is to know perfectly the character and individuality of the dog and be able read well in its behavior, performances and responses.
It’s always a bit about psychology.

According to my experience optimal ratio is 2 or 3 times a week tracking and
1 to 3 times obedience training with our Rebel. With Sorbonne we train obedience just as a maintenance, because he requests it from us and because it makes him happy. It´s a perfect sign for me that with a good motivation and good attitude each dog could appreciate a working with its owner!

I prefer slower, but firm, certain training avoiding any, even small mistakes, which could be later hardly corrected or the correction could not be possible at all.
It´s possible to write a lot about training of ridgeback. One learns still and constantly and always has to overcomes new challenges and barriers. A prerequisite for successful education and training of ridgeback is a will and pleasure from working together and sensible access to the individuality of own dog.

Rhodesian ridgeback breed is highly intelligent, lively, with a natural hunger for some activity. If we would not think something out to a ridgeback, the ridgeback creates it itself – for example by chasing wild animals, displaying of aggression or attacking because of the surplus of energy, destruction of things and furnishings at home, and other activities that bring their owners to distraction.
It is always only on owner if if he/she is able to manage this desire and temperament of the dog to develop to the good, or directly to the defined aim or not.

Many owners do not realize that the ridgebacks does not need only to employ only the body but it´s necessary to employ mainly the head.
Mental activity tires so lively dog, such as our Rebel is, absolutely reliable, and much more than hours of running in nature with dogs or a all-day trip.
Just only one hour of intensive training of scent works where the dog must be fully focused and has to work systematically gets tired enough him that the rest of the day he is happily resting in his bed.

Unfortunately, the path to quality training, ie. a capable instructor and a decent background, it is not easy and a lot of enthusiastic recruits could be discouraged at the beginning.
From my own experience I must say that the view on ridgebacks, whether in sports, practise use, or even hunting cynology (where ridgebacks belongs mainly) is more than agonized.

I meet very often with people fully engaged in sporting or hunting cynology and I am still confronted with the opinion that ridgeback is a dog „for nothing“. They say that ridgeback is ungovernable, unusable, incapable, is not diligent and and is stupid dog. The same opinion I am hearing about ridgeback´s owners..

My argumentation that my dogs are working and working well and that we are the only ones who have the results does not work at all. After watching my dogs work these people are willing to admit that in our case – yes, but it is the exception confirming the rule stated above..
It’s a label we created to ridgebacks ourselves – we all – the owners and breeders of RRs, and it´s our blunder. It is a thought what is extremely difficult, if any, to change. Anyway, it would mean a huge effort and a lot of time and work of all of us. But I’m not very optimistic therein. Because I do not feel some tendency or goodwill about that…

Nevertheless I would be very glad to see bigger number of working ridgebacks, because we would be able to show all the world that ridgeback is all round talented dog, well usable in different activities.

Finally I would like to say that working with ridgeback is possible and is possible to do it well. Just there is a need to set a target, to get to know a dog well, and to learn to communicate with him and trust him and yourself. The rewards are wonderful moments spent in the company of your beloved dog, developing mutual respect and progress, what you achieving together.