When it comes to Jack Russell Terriers, you may be drawn to their playful, energetic, determined personalities. Jack Russells are born hunting dogs with the same intensity and cleverness that come with other hunting breeds. With all of the energy that comes in a Jack Russell, you may be wondering if they are easy or difficult to train.
Jack Russells are bright and eager, making them easier to train than some other breeds. They learn quickly but might not follow through on commands if they are distracted or not in the mood. Repetition, a good amount of exercise, and companionship are key.
While Jack Russells may not be the most patient pets, they are loyal and loving. They will follow your commands if they respect you as their guardian, but getting to that place takes a good amount of intentional work. Keep reading to discover what you need to know about training your Jack Russell.
Where to Begin in Training Your Jack Russell Terrier
When you first receive your Jack Russell, whether he is a puppy or an older dog, you’ll need to start from the same place in training him. Because Jack Russells are only loyal and obedient to the people they respect as their leaders, you need to help your dog understand that you are the boss. Be firm and consistent in your training and show him you mean business.
Showing Your Jack Russell that You Are the Boss
You need your Jack Russell to respect you as her leader, so make sure to set that tone early in your relationship. Begin with basic commands like sit and stay and practice them often and in different situations. Help her see that you mean business all of the time, not just when things are quiet at home.
Jack Russells are often relinquished to shelters for naturally occurring behaviors, such as barking and digging. If you anticipate these behaviors being an issue in your home, start discouraging them from the get-go. Reward your Jack Russell with plenty of attention and treats anytime they resist the urge for these behaviors. (Source: Jack Russell Terrier Club of America)
Setting the Environment
Because Jack Russells are a hunting breed, they are full of raw energy and have an instinct for digging, chasing, and pursuing. This makes them excellent at games like fetch but can also cause problems if you have other pets or small, unpredictable children. It’s crucial that you provide them with appropriate outlets for their energy and set the stage for success.
Before getting your Jack Russell, commit to the amount of exercise he will need. Because they are small dogs, people often forget that they need a significant amount of exercise to thrive. Without appropriate exercise, Jack Russells can become aggressive and begin to exhibit more problematic behaviors, so make sure you are prepared to offer him what he needs.
Training Your Jack Russell
There are many methods when it comes to training dogs. It’s essential to find the method that resonates most with you and your specific dog. There are a few things almost all dog trainers can agree on, especially with Jack Russells:
- They must learn to go to the bathroom in a specific place.
- They must not be overly aggressive to their owners, other people, or pets.
- They must not engage in destructive behaviors that harm their home.
- They will thrive off of consistency.
- They need to know who is boss.
These training points take problematic instinctual behaviors for a Jack Russell and create a more friendly environment for both the owner and dog to enjoy.
Housetraining Your Jack Russell
Jack Russells are much like the majority of dogs when it comes to housetraining. They need consistency, rewards, and specific expectations. If you are hoping for your Jack Russell to learn to use a puppy pad inside or go to the bathroom outdoors, you’ll need to invest the time to teach her and work with her.
Many trainers highly recommend crate training because it gives your Jack Russell a specific place to call her own. If you have gotten your Jack Russell familiar enough with her crate, it’s unlikely she will want to soil it. Use her crate as a tool as you teach her to go the bathroom elsewhere.
Keep her close by and contained until you are confident she is housetrained. Take her to the bathroom frequently and reward her with lots of praise, attention, and treats if she obeys. If there are specific places in your house you don’t want to get soiled, make sure to take extra care to block those areas off, so it’s less stressful for both you and your Jack Russell.
Aggression in Your Jack Russell
Aggression is something that makes most owners fearful and unsure. If your Jack Russell is beginning to show aggressive behaviors in any way or towards any person, make sure to stop those behaviors right away and never encourage them. Remove your terrier from the situation and do not give them any attention.
Keep in mind that Jack Russells are particularly prone to be aggressive with other dogs or small animals/rodents, so pay close attention to them when around animal friends. Never leave a Jack Russell alone with another Jack Russell. They can easily set each other off even if they have previously been friendly towards each other. (Source: Yourpurebredpuppy.com)
Most of the aggressive behaviors in Jack Russells can be solved through an appropriate amount of exercise and play. Aggression happens more frequently when Jack Russells feel anxious or bored or have a lot of pent-up energy. Be consistent about their exercise, and you’ll see less aggression.
Destructive Behaviors in Your Jack Russell
Destructive behaviors like digging, barking, escaping, or ripping can be incredibly frustrating for owners. Jack Russells have endless amounts of energy and can wreak havoc on things like furniture, fences, yards, and rugs. Keep in mind that part of the instinct for a Jack Russell is to dig and forage. Consistent training and awareness are fundamental.
Don’t just leave your Jack Russell puppy un-crated and home alone for 8 hours and expect him to sit still on the couch all day. It’s important to be realistic. Crate train your Jack Russell so you can leave him in his crate when you are gone. If you are against crates, create a safe area where the most minimal amount of damage can occur.
When you let your Jack Russell outside, make sure to check your fence for any digging holes or possible escape routes. Exercise him before you leave for work in the morning, so he is already worn out as he waits for you to come home. Being proactive will prevent many frustrations later on.
Playing with Your Jack Russell
While it’s easy to focus on the behaviors you don’t want your Jack Russell to do, it’s also essential to focus on the behaviors you do want. Teach your Jack Russell to play fetch and bring the ball back to you. Fetch will be an invaluable tool for you to help him get his exercise with minimal effort on your part.
Take him on frequent walks and train him to appropriately walk on a leash, ignoring other passersby and pets. Let him enjoy all of the new sights and smells and have fun seeing the world through his eyes.
Play tug-of-war with him using appropriate toys. Quiz him on your latest party tricks and teach him new ones just for fun. Keeping the fun alive in training your Jack Russell is just as important as eliminating the problematic behaviors.
Jack Russell terriers are fun, energetic, and bright. They are full of life and easy to love. While they come with some difficult behavior traits like digging, barking, and hunting, they also learn quickly and remain loyal to their owners.
When training your Jack Russell, make sure to be consistent and help him understand that you are the boss. Be realistic about your goals for him and reward him frequently for good behavior. With a little effort and determination, your Jack Russell can be trained to be a wonderful dog for you and your family.