Since you have had constant companionship with your Ridgeback puppy, most has gone well and they are family entertained. They have dozed with the doziest, played with the most playful, sat with the most techiest and entertained at their best with the family at home. Thus comes school, daycare, pre-K and work. So now, who will do what-when, and where does this leave your new family member that doesn’t have these things to do? It has been on the minds of conscientious pack leaders since the beginning of desiring a new family fur buddy for the kids and themselves. There are always good answers for every questioning thought: “Why did we do this and what are we going to do with our sweet companions now?” There are many good solutions, stay at home workers, doggy-day care, pet sitters, Grandma or Papa, neighbors, college kids needing a job, or the best answer is TRAINING.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are VERY intelligent, communicative and willing to learn and will if they believe it pleases you. They DO desire to please you and yes, they want to be with you also.
There are ways for both things without requiring to be there all the the time or run home to attend them.
Since your baby Ridgeback has been home, it has learned many new things. They are VERY quick learners and it makes for distracted activity, stimulating their brain to learn healthy new things with positive reinforcement. Hopefully part of this good learning activity has included teaching them where their safe spot is—their CRATE, and how to be obedient and quick to respond. (For a young puppy this takes more time and continual coaxing and reinforcement to get the idea across sometimes). It will come though and they Will enjoy their crate.
The puppy should be crate trained. It is not only a place to put them while you sleep, or need space or while you have company so they aren’t underfoot; but crate training helps your pup know they have a safe-secure place to go when they are tired, overwhelmed or scared. Dogs get anxious too and need to have a safe house to go to for security. This safe house should never be intruded on by ANYONE, and should always be their getaway spot for relaxation. Knowing this will help them with separation anxiety because they learn to love their crate instead of feeling it is there for punishment or to get them out of the way. FAVORITE loved toys, treats, chew toys like antlers, LONG chew sticks etc, help keep them from boredom while they are in the crate. Soft low-keyed music or television can help them feel less isolated and help them realize they aren’t alone. Water should be supplied in the crate for them at all times. Food isn’t as necessary, but some feed will make them feel like they aren’t forgotten. Another good instrument is a baby or computer monitor you can put by the crate to talk to your puppy with. Practicing their sit and stay, down and stay commands (once they know them fairly well), while they are in their crate can be a game for your pup with wonderful good dog voice reinforcement using your monitor for his visual as well as yours. It can be a fun break for both of you.
So, start out introducing your pup to its crate with positive reassurance insuring your pup the cage is a safe place. Note: We sometimes get in the crate with the pup the first couple of times to show them we like it too and play with them inside it at first. We do this only a few times for short periods. Start out with an open air crate if you can. Once that is accepted, place a blanket partway over the crate to create a cave-like home. They will realize the solitude of it. Time in the crate should start with short increments built up to long ones.
If your pup whines and cries, you may assure it with your voice and a few fingers patting it through the bars and quickly extracting them out again. If it starts back up, repeat this a couple of times reassuring the pup you are there. Lastly if it continues, using your authoritative voice, say NO, (Only if you have accomplished NO as its command word to stop bad behavior). It should register with your pup and it should immediately stop. Say good dog, step back and wait. This should be repeated and only done starting out in 20-30 minute increments and increased time once your time goal has been accomplished. Never take your pup out of the crate during a crying-howling mode. Try to release it only on a good note rewarding it for its efforts. Try not to crate your pup all day. Their kidneys and digestive parts are too small. Learning to urinate or defecate in a crate hinders good housebreaking habits and can cause them to balk at going back into that monster-the crate again.
If crate training seems too overwhelming, when you leave them in their crate, leave for a bit. Come back and listen for any crying. If there is any, leave again and come back to check on your baby often peeking through a window or door, but don’t go in until you KNOW your pup has quieted down. When it is, go in, good dog him as you walk in and open that crate and love on that baby for a job well done. Offer it some food in its crate, throw its toys in as a game with the door open and compliment such a great feat. They will be proud of themselves also.
The next phase of training should be obedience training. This can be incorporated into part of their crate training as well as exercise time. Obedience training can be very useful in separation anxiety and all phases of a rich companionship between a pack leader and the puppy. It can solve (as can crate training) many problems and can be a very fun and challenging game for a Ridgeback.
It takes a bit of patience on your part, positive reinforcement in a positive and excited voice and a good dog patting with treats for accomplishments.
Teaching to lead, sit, down, stay, sit and stay, down and stay and come are VERY necessary commands to accomplish a great companion as is the word NO. Once the pup starts to learn each command, (one at a time as not to confuse your pup), they will be very easy to train many new and positive things including commands from afar and handling separation anxiety.
Learning obedience gives a Ridgeback or any dog confidence they can be patient and wait for the next task given by their pack leader.
Once crate and Obedience training are accomplished, crating or free house roaming can be a very positive experience while you are away for the both of you. You can be relieved their is no pressure leaving your baby home alone. (Please remember they may be big, but they are still puppies). They chew to relieve tooth changes and gum pressure from growth and playful spurts of energy. So until they are older and more trustworthy, probably crating is the best choice unless you have a good shaded, fenced yard outside for them to play in with plenty of water until the family comes home.
If crate training seems too overwhelming, when you leave them in their crate, leave for a bit. Come back and listen for any crying. If there is any, leave again and come back to check on your baby often peeking through a window or door, but don’t go in until you KNOW your pup has quieted down. When it is, go in, good dog him as you walk in and open that crate and love on that baby for a job well done. Offer it some food in its crate, throw its toys in as a game and let it fetch them out with the door open and compliment such a great feat. They will be proud of themselves also.
Hopefully this information helps. Each pup is unique in its character and needs. Just remember lots can be accomplished if the role of loving and patient but dominant pack leadership is accomplished through crate and obedience training and positive rewarding. Enjoy your puppy, but teach it good manners. This way you, your family and the puppy will enjoy peace and companionship for a lifetime in a great way.
May the Lord be with each and everyone of you. God bless each of you.