Training and Socialization
I have been involved in dogs since 2004, and have been to several training and breeding seminars. I have trained my own dogs by attending different types of training classes at different locations and then working with them at home. I take great pride in being able to have my dogs with me in all sorts of situations and social events. I take them to parades, sporting events, car shows, farmer's markets, flea markets, and any other place that is busy, loud, and full of people that will want to pet them, and interact with them.
far, the best way to turn a young puppy into a well behaved adult dog is to get
them socialized and into a training class. The second most important thing to
do is get them out of the house and into life! When you skimp on training and
don't go to class, the puppy does not receive proper socialization, and can
easily become aggressive, timid, fearful of new people, and unable to be handled
by anyone other than you.
The older the puppy gets, the harder it will be to handle and to introduce to new things. This will be especially trying when you have difficulty at the vet, resulting in the dog having to be muzzled for a simple exam. The behavior may not be seen until the puppy gets a little older. This is why it is so important you create a good foundation for the puppy at a young age. It is absolutely paramount that you get your puppy out into the world.
dogs are not fun to have in the home. They may growl or bark at strangers, and
exhibit cowering and tail tucking behavior when a visitor comes into the home.
These are all signs of under socialization. Your Ridgeback may bark when
someone knocks on the door, but after letting your guests into your home,
he/she should calm down fairly quickly and be willing to greet new people... on his own terms.
He/she should not be cowering, hiding, running away or displaying tail tucking behavior... those behaviors are fear related and stem from not enough socialization. Typical Ridgeback behavior denotes that a Ridgeback will be aloof to strangers, and may seem to ignore your visitors or not seem interested. This is definitely different from aggressive or fearful behavior.
The best time to start training your puppy is as soon as you get them home. I don't mean in your home. You need to get them to a training class. Many training facilities will have you wait until the puppy has had their rabies vaccine. I believe there is valuable time lost when you wait this long to begin training. The best time to train a puppy is between 8-12 weeks. This is when they are most pliable, and willing to learn. Around 12 weeks they go through a fear period. Having them already started in class will prevent problems stemming from fear as they continue to grow.
It is imperative that you get your puppy into some sort of training class. The longer you wait to get into a class the harder you will have to work, and the more anti-social the puppy will become. Training only at home in the home environment is counterproductive; especially if you plan on taking your puppy with you anywhere as an adult dog, or inviting friends over to your home. Your puppy needs to learn how to behave outside the home, as well as inside, and should be comfortable around strangers. A puppy kindergarten class provides socialization with other dogs, interaction with other humans, and it teaches you how to communicate with your puppy. It is especially important for bonding. Many classes also offer playtime for young puppies so they can learn canine communication.
working with your dog you should always use positive reinforcement. You should
never ever hit your puppy while training (or at any other time). If your puppy
shows a behavior you do not want, like stealing your socks or a baby's toy,
redirect them to something else. Give them a toy or a bone to keep them busy,
then remove the unwanted item. Yelling at your puppy only confuses them. They
will shut down (ignoring you), and will be very confused.
Attending a training class is paramount for the development of any puppy of any breed, not just Ridgebacks. Socialization is of utmost importance to prevent aggressive behavior with both humans and other animals or dogs.
I require all of my puppies at least attend a basic obedience class. This is included in the purchase contract of your puppy. Your puppy should be able to pass the AKC STAR puppy certification or AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test by 12 months of age.
Please click on the below links for more information on the importance of training classes and socialization.
I have had quite a bit of experience with rescue dogs. Once a dog bites, it gets the result it's after. There is very little the layperson can do once the dog learns to get its way by biting. At this point you would have to work with a dog behaviorist to try and change the dog’s behavior. Most rescue groups will not accept or place any dog into a home that has been known to bite. It is a liability and safety issue. If your dog learns to bite, it is a death sentence. A dog that has learned to get its way by biting is a ticking time bomb and should never be left alone near children.