Are Jack Russell Terriers Smart?

Are Jack Russell Terriers Smart? Oh yes!  Given half a chance, your Jack Russell will have you wrapped around their little paw in no time at all.  They are very intelligent, quick thinkers and crafty.

Training the Jack Russell Terrier

When you take on a Jack Russell as a pet for the first time, you are in for a treat.  They bring their character to your home and treat them right and they’ll be loyal and protective.  Given just half a chance, they’ll dominate to the extent that they rule the house.  So early, consistent and fair training is needed to ensure you enjoy your Jack Russell and they know that they are not in charge.

Find the favourite toys or treats and give them value by only bringing them out at training time.  This means that your Jack Russell will be eager to play with the toy or enjoy the treat and will do what you want them to as soon as they learn it to get their reward.

Your Jack Russell might be a puppy or an older dog.  Either way, keep the early training sessions short and always end them on a success.  If they are not ‘getting’ what you are trying to teach, go back a step to something they do know, reward them and end there. It is likely that you will have to change your training method for that particular request and start again the next day.

Most dogs and Jack Russells are no exception respond well to high value food when training and this is particularly useful when training from sit to lie down and roll over.

At any time, if your Jack Russell seems bored, get them to do something they know and end the session with plenty of praise and fuss.

Even when they know commands and what they are supposed to do in certain situations, Jack Russells are independent spirited and many will ignore your commands and do their own thing.  So the trick here is to find the way to get their focus on you. 

Working the Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russells were developed to hunt, and boy do they love to do so.  Your Jack Russell won’t need much encouragement to flush out rats and mice and dispatch them efficiently.  Where they will need training is not to attack anything that moves.  They can easily turn their hunting instinct to your neighbours’ cats or chickens with disastrous consequences.

What this means is that if you definitely do not want to work your Jack Russell at all, you need to discourage their natural instinct to do so.  Because they are smart, training them not to chase and kill small furries and fowl is relatively easy with consistent training.

When you do want your Jack Russell for working or to be able to dispatch the occasional vermin but to leave your small pets and the neighbourhood cats alone, then this is where their intelligence really pays off.  Because they are so smart, you can work with your Jack Russell’s natural prey drive to tell them when they can chase and attack and when they have to leave alone.  Or what they can chase and dispatch and what they should leave.  A well trained Jack Russell or Jack Russell team will chase and kill rats in a chicken pen but know to leave the chickens alone.

Jack Russell’s love to work as a team.  While a single Jack Russell will happily work, two or more will work together to get the job done and relish the praise you pour on them.   

As well as going underground to flush out rabbits and foxes and despatching vermin, your Jack Russell can also turn their paw to other jobs.  You can train your Jack Russell to do fly ball, agility or terrier racing.  They could help you by alerting you to the doorbell or alarms; they successfully help people in many ways as service dogs.   

The Jack Russell is Smart

With the correct and consistent training, your smart Jack Russell will want to help you, work with you and please you.  Many will still have that independent streak but should be won round to your way of thinking with a favourite toy or treats.  They are endearing little dogs. 

If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read about The Ultimate Jack Russell Terrier Guide.

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