Named for his country of origin and the tiny Mohawk that runs down his spine, the Rhodesian ridgeback is fiercely loyal but notoriously hard-headed. Caring for your puppy relies on you taking charge and honing his natural tendencies into more appropriate behavior.
Offer your puppy limited portions of food over the course of a day; Ridgies love their food and tend to inhale it during mealtimes, creating a risk of tummy troubles. Consult your breeder or vet to determine the total amount your pooch should receive per day, and divide it into two or three smaller meals. Don't fall for the puppy-dog eyes for more, as Ridgies are always hungry and feeding him too much could lead to obesity.
Take him outside for exercise often. As your Ridgie grows his need for exercise decreases, but right now he's a little bundle of energy. Let him run and play in a secure area to get his excess energy out. Watch him closely or keep him in a fenced area, as Ridgies have a strong urge to give chase, possibly getting him lost.
Offer him toys to chew on. Starting at around 4 months of age, your Ridgie begins teething. Provide plenty of safe toys to let him get this urge out, otherwise he'll take to your dining room chairs, sofa and other inappropriate household items. Replace the toys as they become too chewed, to prevent small pieces breaking off and possibly causing a choking hazard.
Wipe down his coat once a week. Your Ridgie's short coat makes for easy and quick grooming. Smooth his coat with a rubber grooming mitt to remove dead, loose hair. Wipe him down with a wet cloth for a quick clean. Bathe him as necessary, usually only a few times a year, applying a gentle dog shampoo and rinsing thoroughly.
Start obedience training as soon as possible, as these headstrong, intelligent and independent dogs can test your patience. Encourage proper behavior from the first day you bring him home and stay consistent. Socialize him with other people and animals to prevent problems as he gets bigger and supervise interactions. Eliminate bad habits with firm correction and redirection. Level heavy praise when he's behaving himself properly.
- Take your puppy to a groomer once every month or so to have his nails trimmed.
- Visit your vet regularly to keep your pup's vaccination schedule up to date.
- Clean your ridgeback's ears once a week to remove excess earwax and other dirt. Apply a damp cotton ball and contact your vet if you notice any unusual redness, swelling or odor.
- Ridgies can be a challenge to train, so contact a professional dog trainer if you're having problems.
- Brush his teeth daily to remove bacteria and plaque and promote healthy gums and fresh breath.
- The Rhodesian ridgeback tips the scales at 80 pounds or more when full grown, so early obedience training is important to a well-mannered dog when he's an adult.
Jane Williams began her writing career in 2000 as the writer and editor of a nationwide marketing company. Her articles have appeared on various websites. Williams briefly attended college for a degree in administration before embarking on her writing career.