With the independent and self reliant Rhodesian Ridgeback, it is fairly easy for owners who have not established themselves as the Alpha Leader to experience power struggles within the household. Hunting breeds are accustomed to not only working with other dogs but establishing the crucial aspect of pack order. Without each dog knowing its place in the group, the pack will not be able to function in an efficient manner. This trait cannot be ignored or trained out in any way. The majority of owners who eventually give up on owning a Ridgeback are those who fail to consistently establish themselves as pack leader. Going back and forth over issues of control and territory can make for a miserable existence for both the dog and the owner.
In the wild, it is the Alpha Dog or pack leader that decides everything. No one else eats until the pack leader eats, no one is allowed to sleep where they wish or greet new guests until the pack leader has already done so. Such is the same when owners establish themselves as pack leaders with their Rhodesian Ridgeback. While many dog owners tend to find a good balance of authority with other breeds, the Ridgeback can become confused as to its place if an owner does not help them understand. Destructive behaviors are often just the frustration a Ridgeback feels when his or her place in their human pack has not been established.
Whether or not they are the only dog in the house, the Ridgeback will immediately try to establish itself as pack leader as a matter of custom. This can lead to confrontations with not only an owner but the other animals in the home. The responsible owner will solve this situation not by force but in a way the Ridgeback can understand.
In most cases, solving these problems is directly tied to food. Since animals eat in order of their significance in a pack, the owner should always eat first. Before the Ridgeback can eat, he or she will first need to follow some sort of order, such as a sit command. The Ridgeback that follows the command gets to eat. The Ridgeback that doesn't is made to wait for its meal twenty minutes longer.
Though it is common for many owners to share space with their dog, when establishing oneself as pack leader, an individual must never put themselves on the same level as their subordinate. This means the Ridgeback must never be allowed on the sofa or bed and the owner must never lay on the floor with their dog. A Ridgeback must also never be allowed to enter or exit a doorway before its owner. Practiced consistently, the Ridgeback will understand its place and settle into a peaceful existence with its new human pack.