Rhodesian ridgebacks are known for having a lot of energy, and while most owners get a pup knowing this, it’s a whole different matter when it comes time to deal with it.
This article will explain when Rhodesian ridgebacks calm down, and what you can do to better handle their energy.
When Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks Calm Down?
The truth is that Rhodesian ridgebacks do not just calm down with age, and there is no moment when you can expect a big difference in energy. A ridgeback puppy will remain active, energetic, and youthful well into their adult years.
So what I stress to owners, is that relying on time alone for your pup to “calm down” is a risky game to play!
Sure, there is some calming and sensibility that you can expect after your ridgeback matures, but the difference isn’t black and white. Let’s run through that now…
When Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks Mature?
At some point your ridgeback pup will “mature” and transition from a puppy/adolescent into an adult.
For female ridgebacks, total maturity is around 1.5-2.5 years old, and for the males, it takes a little longer at around 2-3 years old.
But what does this actually mean?
Does your ridgeback suddenly start wearing slippers and paying the bills? 😊 (that would certainly be appreciated! lol)
There are different forms of maturity:
Sexual maturity: 6-12 months
Physical maturity: 1.5-2.5 years
Mental maturity: 2-3 years
All three of these stages equate to complete maturity.
Sexual maturity and mental maturity will both affect your ridgeback’s temperament to some extent and there is technically a natural “calming down” effect that happens after each one.
But honestly, most owners don’t really notice it… And like I mentioned earlier, it’s not a black and white change. So this usually isn’t the answer when it comes to helping your ridgeback calm down.
Recommended Read: Male vs Female Ridgebacks: The KEY Differences
How To Calm Down Your Rhodesian Ridgeback: 5 KEY Points
Calming down your ridgeback, or keeping them at an acceptable level of energy relies on a few fundamental principles.
There are no “quick tips” that suddenly create a super calm ridgeback, and it’s more about sufficiently meeting the needed lifestyle that a ridgeback craves.
There is no doubt, however, that properly following the advice below will result in a ridgeback that is sensible, tolerable, and definitely not hyperactive.
1. Sufficient daily physical exercise (at the right times)
Don’t skip this part. I know, most owners already know that “ridgebacks need a lot of exercise” and of course, you do too. But the true importance of exercise is often overlooked.
Rhodesian ridgebacks are strong, athletic dogs that absolutely NEED to be physically worked every day. It’s literally in their DNA to roam and be active.
From around 1 year old, 1 hour is no longer enough, and it should be more like 2 hours per day at a minimum.
Your ridgeback needs to run, chase, turn, weave, and engage in short sprints on every outing. Agility training is an excellent option, so too is standard fetch or frisbee. And once your ridgeback is a little older, you can even take him on your routine jog with you.
Apart from providing enough exercise, it also matters WHEN you provide it…
I see many make the mistake of waking up, and going about their own business (or worse, going to work) without doing anything with their ridgeback first! This is a big no-no!
A huge improvement if you aren’t already doing it, will be to give your ridgeback a solid hour of moderate to intensive exercise before anything else. Every morning he’ll be raring to go and to give him that opportunity to expend a chunk of energy first thing, will improve his overall demeanor and temperament for the rest of the day. This is huge.
It’s advised to then give him an additional hour in the evening to reach a sufficient amount of daily exercise.
2. Mental stimulation & brain work
Physical exercise is only 50% of the equation… Mental exercise is equally important (with some adamant it’s even more important)… Either way, mental stimulation is crucial!
I know many Rhody owners who come back from 6-8 mile runs with their ridgeback, only for their ridgeback to look at them 30 minutes later as if to say… “okay, let’s do it again!”
The truth about energy is that if your ridgeback’s mind isn’t tired, he’ll never be tired… As well as physical exercise, he absolutely needs mental exercise too.
One of the best forms of mental stimulation can be achieved while out on your walks, and that’s socialization with other dogs (I’ll cover this in detail in the next section).
Other ways to mentally stimulation your ridgeback are with puzzle toys, slow feeders, playing nose work games with him, and without a doubt, daily command training!
As to how much mental stimulation your ridgeback needs, it’s hard to say. Typically, the more the better. Along with 2 hours of physical exercise, if you can dedicate an additional 1-2 hours of focused mental stimulation activities every day, your ridgeback will start to feel a lot calmer, satisfied and content to just rest quietly.
3. Facilitate plenty of socialization
Socialization is one of the most important parts of your ridgeback’s early development.
Socialization counts as meeting and interacting with new dogs and people on a frequent basis (3-5 times per week is ideal).
Not only is socialization extremely mentally stimulating and tiring, but it’s essential to nurture a well-behaved, approachable, and friendly ridgeback.
By sufficiently exposing your ridgeback to these social situations, he’s going to learn crucial social skills and learn how to appropriately handle new interactions without being scared or fearful. And this is infinitely important.
By facilitating frequent meet-ups or taking your ridgeback to doggy playgroups, you’ll satisfy a huge chunk of his mental stimulation requirements, as well set him up to be a friendly and well-behaved dog later on in life.
If you take your ridgeback to the dog park where he interacts with other dogs, that’s also great and certainly counts. Just remember that he still needs to spend plenty of time running and focusing on physical exercise too.
4. High-quality diet
Your ridgeback’s diet has a lot more influence on his overall temperament and behavior than you might think.
Much like how kids go bonkers when they eat sugar, dogs can also be heavily influenced and affected when they eat ill-fitting foods and treats.
This is why it’s crucial to completely avoid table scraps, tidbits, and ensure your Rhody only consumes high-quality food and healthy treats.
In terms of kibble, it’s best to stick to a low carb, high protein, and medium to high-fat formula. Although some slow-digesting carbs can be useful, most of the carbs that manufacturers use are low quality and used solely for the purpose of bulking up their product cheaply. Your ridgeback will gain far more nutritional value from avoiding those in the first place.
In terms of treats, it’s best to stick to either a few morsels of plain boiled turkey breast (turkey over chicken, as turkey is not a common allergen). OR a natural ingredient low-calorie treats like Zukes Mini Naturals.
Apart from that, nothing else is essential or necessary. Keep your ridgeback’s diet healthy and clean, and his behavior will be positively affected.
5. Quality time and training
Last, but certainly not least, would be ensuring you have plenty of quality time with your ridgeback AND to provide daily training.
Ridgebacks are family-orientated and love nothing more than spending a large portion of their time right next to their loved ones. This is a subtle, but crucial part of their day.
Without this level of interaction, attention, and time spent with their humans, a lot of pent-up energy, anxiety, and hyperactivity can build. This is generally why ridgebacks don’t like being left alone and struggle with those that work long hours.
Properly interacting and spending time with you ridgeback is fundamental to his overall behavior. The more you give to him, the more entertained and satisfied he’ll be. Which translates to a calmer, more sensible ridgeback.
Command training is actually a great way to spend quality time with your ridgeback, not to mention that it’s completely necessary anyway…
Spending 45-60 minutes a day building upon his basic commands like (sit, stay, down, come, drop) will work wonders for your Rhody.
Unfortunately, many owners neglect these skills once they’re learned, but that’s a huge mistake. You can continuously improve command training by asking your ridgeback to wait longer and longer each time, or perhaps you walk to another room before giving him the “come” command. There hundreds of ways to make a simple “sit” and “stay” exercise more entertaining…
The beauty of building upon basic commands is that you’re not only giving your ridgeback your full attention, which he will LOVE, but you’re working on his obedience AND providing him with great mental stimulation.
These are subtle things that many owners miss, but are CRUCIAL in creating that “calm” dog that everybody wishes for.
Popular article: When Do Ridgebacks Stop Growing & Reach Full Size?
Managing Expectations: How Calm Are Ridgebacks Anyway?
I wanted to touch on another important point here, and that’s about managing expectations…
I had recently spoken to one owner about hyperactivity, and they were explaining to me how they essentially wanted a couch potato dog. Yet they had a ridgeback…
There’s a balance, and although hyperactivity is of course an issue, at the same time, ridgebacks certainly are NOT an inactive breed. And so it’s unrealistic to expect a completely relaxed and almost “sedated-like” dog. It’s just not gonna happen with a ridgeback.
I am not assuming that this is what you expect, but it helps to keep in mind that ridgebacks ARE a very active breed and will remain to have a lot of energy right up until their senior years.
The Important Takeaway
The important takeaway from this article is that ridgebacks are a very energetic breed, and don’t necessarily “calm down” with age.
The best way to keep your ridgeback calm and well-behaved is to ensure you provide him with enough exercise, mental stimulation, socialization, a quality diet, quality time, and training on a daily basis.
The more you give to your ridgeback, the more he’ll reward you with the temperament you desire from him.
But without a lot of conscious effort on your part, a calm ridgeback will not happen!
Thank you for reading!