Why is a rescue dog different from one purchased from a breeder?

Rescue dogs come from all walks of life. Some dogs are from shelters, picked up as strays, others at shelters have been surrendered by their owner or even stuffed into the night deposit box usually anonymously. These dogs may well have been pampered and spoiled, allowed to sleep on the bed, taken to dog parks and were given lots of toys, or, the dog may have been abused, chained to a tree or an old tire, beaten, not fed regularly, used to fight other dogs, or perhaps he did not fight other dogs and was therefore of no use to the owner, so he was dumped.

Rhodesian Ridhebacks are extremely adaptable dogs. That being said, being rehoused is extremely traumatic for a dog. So, what are you likely to experience in taking your dog home once you have adopted it?

For the first week or so, the behavior could be such that you wonder why anyone gave up your newfound precious angel. The dog sits, comes when called, eats politely, stays close to you and is generally a joy to have around. A week, three weeks, or possibly a month or two go by and your angel suddenly transmogrifies into a Beast of the Styx. He growls, he barks, he guards his toys, food, your body, your bed or anything he is near. He may shred your couch, your garden lights, your sprinkler system, or even remove your deck. Your angel may exhibit this manic behaviour for a day, a week or the next month. Suddenly he reverts back to being your angel again and all is well.

What is going on with your dog you ask? Well this is all normal behaviour for a rescue dog. They can indeed enter your home and be an angel from day one and never put a paw out of place! They can also wreak havoc in the first 24 hours.


Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue of Northern California places dogs in foster care when possible, where they are carefully evaluated. This helps to identify any problems that may need to be addressed. Most rescue dogs are wonderful dogs, but now and then we get one who is a special needs dog or one who has not been well-socialized. Then we may have different problems. We may have to retrain, we may have to have the new owner go to a behaviorist or we may end up not adopting a difficult dog out to a new home. We take each dog in on an individual basis and evaluate that particular dog for what seems best for that dog.

When you adopt a dog from Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue of Northern California, you will always have a place to go for help or advice.

In general, a well-socialized Ridgeback is like having a well-mannered and polite teenage son. Everything goes well for weeks on end and every now and then the son kicks up his heels and wants to party, go sky-diving, fly a kite, go scuba diving in the Bahamas. So it is with a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Every now and then they kick up their heels and want it all now, your bed, the couch, your sandwich, to go to the left instead of going where you are headed, etc. Life is NEVER dull when you live with Rhodesian Ridgebacks!

Points to consider when adopting a rescued dog:

• Can you spend the time to commit to on-going obedience classes with your dog?
• Can you budget for vet bills?
• Can you commit to your dog being a family member for the rest of its life?
• If you have to give up your dog, will you contact Rescue to assist in placing it in another good home?

. . . . .

Points to consider when adopting an older rescue:

• usually minimal housebreaking
• usually minimal chewing problems
• few, if any, behavioral problems
• usually a history of some obedience training
• few, if any, eating problems
• a lifetime of love, affection, and loyalty to be gained from the rescued dog