Managing Jack Russell Terrier Behavior
The crux of the problem when confronting Jack Russell
Terrier behavior is that this breed wrote the book on strong willed,
stubborn as a mule, defiant as Napoleon, hard to catch
little rascal you ever saw in your life.
And in the early puppy years, they can run fast. They
were bred that way, remember, to chase fox. And don't think they don't
know when they've messed up...they know alright...that's why they're
running. (typical Jack Russell Terrier behavior)
But there are some very efficient ways to master Jack
Russell Terrier behavior. And also some very interesting ones.
Before we go on, if you don't find the information on Jack
Russell Terrier behavior you are looking for, just ask here.
In Anna Katherine Nicholas' great
book, Jack Russell Terriers, she tells of a man who
had a dog in a kennel that would wake him up at 1:30 a.m. every night
barking his head off.
A platform to hold a bucket of water was constructed
over the area of the kennel in which the dog usually chose to bark.
Through a system of hinges, ropes, and pulleys, a
mechanism was devised so that the dog owner could pull a rope from his
bedroom window, dumping a bucket of water on the dog when he started to
The bucket was suspended such that once it was dumped,
it uprighted itself and the owner could fill it again remotely by
turning on a garden hose.
After two appropriate dunkings, the dog's barking
behavior was apparently eliminated.
While this approach is inventive, it doesn't work well
with those of us who are not good with pulleys, ropes and hinges.
But trying to stop a dog, and especially a dog that is extremely
territorial, from excessive barking, can be quite a challenge as it is
a natural Jack Russell Terrier behavior response to sound an alarm when
other dogs or people approach their territory.
It is advisable, as good owners and good neighbors, to
try and curb problem barking before it becomes a bad habit. And as I
have mentioned before, START EARLY because these dogs are smart and
they WILL learn, but only...if YOU are consistent.
But once punishment is administered, make every attempt
from that point on, to punish ALL undesirable barking. Don't allow long
periods of barking to go unpunished.
During this period of training it may be necessary to
keep the dog inside while the owner is away, unless the dog can be, in
some way, punished while the owner is gone.
But don't over-punish and harm or break the dog's
spirit. Remember, Jack Russell Terrier behavior is rooted in a breeding
as a high-spirited hunter and diligent protector of his territorial
space. One of the keys to Jack Russell Terrier behavior is
praise and support.
Jimbo listens... most times to me. But it took us
some tangling and battle of wills to get here.
He loves to please me. And when the temptation
over-rules his respect for me, I don't mind so much because he makes up
for it in loyalty and affection that is hard to find an equal
comparison. His whole life is me. If I go out, he's there at my feet.
If I come in, there he is again, his eye ever watching and ready to
This is Jack Russell Terrier behavior at its best.
Jack Russell Behavior Tips:
over stimulate your Jack: Time outs can be an effective
way to handle your Jack and to help him settle down. For
example, ask visitors not to
interact with your dog until he or she calms down. Also,
placing a harness on the dog can be a signal that calmer behavior is
a time out corner: Select an area for your Jack to spend
time when unacceptable behavior occurs. This will be a clear
signal that they did soemthing wrong. If you have a puppy, lift him up
and carry him to the corner. Older dogs will go when
commanded. You can also send the puppy to the bed area or
inside a crate. If you decide to go the crate route, make
sure it is only for your Jack to relax after being over stimulated and
to calm down. Do not leave the puppy in a crate for more than
Russells Fighting when More than one dog or pet: If two
dogs are constantly fighting, it is usually due to "pack" instability.
This means that it isn't clear in the household who is the
dominant dog (after you). The problem often arises when an
owner favors a subordinate dog, giving that dog confidence in the
presence of what was the dominant dog. You should always
favor the dominant dog for this reason. Jack Russell
Terrier's need to know the pecking order. Once it is clear
the Jack Russell Terrier behavior that you expect should return to
You can also let two dogs work it out. If they are hurting
each other, try muzzling them and leaving them to work it out.
The muzzle will keep them from hurting each other, while
allowing them to establish who is more dominant.
Russell Terrier Digging: This is a natural behavior for
Jacks. Consider funneling this behavior into a specific area
of the yard. Use a command such as "OK dig" so your Jack knows when it
is an acceptable behavior. Frustration is often the cause of
digging, such as being placed outside when company arrives as a
"punishment." By using behavior modification you can address the issue
with visitors, and then the digging should stop.
Russell Terrier Chewing: Chewing is a natural canine
behavior. Jacks have strong jaws, so chewing can be an issue. The
simple quick way to encourage Jack Russell stop chewing behavior is to
remove items from reach that your puppy chews, and replace them with
durable chew toys. Consider something like the Kong
toys that had treats in the chew toy. This will
exercise your Jacks mind and keep the chewing to those few favorite
toys. One technique for puppies is to take the item that you
don't want chewed out of their mouth while saying "no chew" or some
other command. Then immediately replace it with another
acceptable chew toy and say "good chew" or something like that.
Russell Barking: The key to barking is to determine the
underlying cause and then by applying the appropriate training method.
For example, does barking occur after a visitor arrives, due
to boredom, separation anxiety, excitement etc. In general,
dogs bark when there is some perceived pleasure associated with the
action, such as when wanting to play a came of fetch. Sometimes simply
ignoring the situation can help, as this creates a negative reward for
the behavior (this method can take weeks).
If your Jack barks due to territorial concern, sometimes just
acknowledging the barking, will get the Jack to stop. The Jack may just
wanting you to acknowledge that it has protected your territory. Use a
command if you dog stops and praise the dog for doing so.
Jacks that bark out of fear or that are insecure is a different issue.
For example, if guests move away when your dog barks, that is
reinforcing their behavior, since they now know that they can get
people to move away or that they can be intimidating. This is often the
case for the mail man or delivery people that leave after dropping
Unfortunately, dog barking is a fact of life. Sometimes how
the puppy is treated, or even praised for barking when young, may send
the wrong signal The best approach is either to purchase an
on line training course such as the one offered by Dove Creswell or seek out a local
If you don't see the Jack Russell behavior
information you are looking for or have any suggestions please fill out
the form below.
Have a Jack Russell Behavior Question or Suggestion?
Share your questions and tips about any Jack Russell behavior challenges or suggestions. Proper training and behavior modification is key to having a happy and successful relationship with your Jack. I will try to answer any questions as best I can. And of course we have thousands of readers who are always happy to help.
Or if you have an answer to any of the questions, it would be such a help to all seeking information about their beloved Jack Russells.
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