Dealing with children
The question whether the Rhodesian Ridgeback is suitable to live with young children can be answered affirmatively, although a lot depends on how you raise the children. There are a few ground rules you should take into consideration. You should realize that not all dogs can handle children very well and that not all children treat dogs as they are supposed to. Also realize that if something goes wrong it is neither the dog’s nor the child’s fault, as a parent you are responsible. You must see to it that the child respects the dog and that a confrontation never happens. A child doesn’t always understand the dog’s body language and therefore won’t (and can’t) recognize the warnings a dog gives preceding a defensive bite.
Or all breeds applies: Never leave dog and child together unsupervised.
A few tips you can teach children old enough to understand them:
Teach the children (also e.g. the children from the neighborhood) that they:
- Should always call the dog to them and never walk up to the dog themselves (the lower rank always goes to the higher rank)
- Shouldn’t scream, fight or run away when the dog is present.
- Should show respect, this means don’t touch a sleeping dog, don’t play too rough with him, don’t put fingers in the dog’s ears, eyes or nose, don’t try and lift him, don’t tease him, don’t shake him awake, don’t pull him out of the basket, don’t dress him, don’t touch his food or chewing bone and so on. Dogs need peace and quiet and a safe place to sleep.
- Should never stare at a dog.
- Should never lie on the floor next to the dog (or in the dog’s basket), they should always hold their face higher than the dog’s head.
- Should never hold their face too close to the dog.
- Should always put their toys away, so that the pup can’t eat small things he could choke on.
If your children are too young to make this clear to them then make sure the child is never left alone with the dog.
It’s better to prevent that to cure. When you haven’t children of your own but you know the dog will come in contact with children, than teach him from an early age what children are.
Walk past an elementary school when the children are out playing. Let the boy or girl next door give the dog a biscuit, so that the dog learns that children are fun, instead of scary.
The same rule applies here: what’s learnt in the cradle lasts till the tomb.