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Jack Russells are a bundle of fun – energetic dogs that have a loyal attachment to their owner. This breed is not for everyone, but if you enjoy the outdoors and are training minded then they make excellent pets. Here’s the lowdown on Jack Russell behaviour – what can you expect from a Jack Russell and how to deal with it.
There used to be a strong ‘Alpha’ training method that was very based on discipline and their place in the pack under you as the owner. However, these methods are now outdated training methods and positive reinforcement has been proven to be kinder to the dog and have better results. We avoid the used of physical punishment and shock collars – not only is it cruel but not actually necessary.
Velcro Dog – Separation Anxiety Behaviour
Jack Russells are highly loyal and affectionate towards their owners. They develop a strong bond that can sometimes be so strong that it becomes unhealthy as it causes stress for the Jack Russell to be left alone. This kind of Jack Russell behaviour makes it almost impossible for you to go out and holidays without your dog are off the cards! Separation anxiety behaviour can including constant barking or howling, destructive behaviour (such as chewing or destroying furniture) or weeing and pooing in the house in protest.
Your dog needs to socialise with other people and get used to you being away from him slowly (build it up). When you leave your dog alone do so for short periods of time at first so just 10-15 minutes to the corner shop initially. eave the house and re-enter as if it’s completely normal – don’t make a fuss of your dog when you leave or return. You can then build this up to 30 minutes, 1 hour and finally up to about 3-4 hours. When your dog is left for the slightly longer periods make sure he has a little walk to get ’empty’ before you leave him. You can also leave him with something to do such as a Dog Puzzle or KONG! The medium sized Kong Extreme is perfect for Jack Russells and you can stuff it with something tasty such as Yogurt (and freeze it!) or Mutt Butter.
- Mentally stimulating toy, offering enrichment by helping satisfy dogs’ instinctual needs
- KONG black rubber formula is specifically designed for power chewers
- Unpredictable bounce for games of fetch
If you want to keep an eye on your dog while you are out then I highly suggest a good dog camera such as the Wansview or Furbo dog camera. You can keep an eye on him on your mobile phone and then come straight home if there are any urgent problems (e.g. risk of choking)
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- 🐾 BARKING ALERT -- Furbo sends a push notification to your phone when t senses your dog barking. You'll always know whats going on at home.
Regarding overnight stays without your dog and even holidays, whoever is going to ‘dog sit’ for you while you are out or away should be welcomed into your home regularly and develop a bond with your dog by giving him fuss and treats.
Prey Drive Behaviour
A Jack Russell has a natural and inbuilt prey drive that is difficult to eradicate. This can also mean that Jack Russells find off lead recall a challenge once this prey drive kicks in. It can be distressing if you see your Jack Russell kill a small animal such as a rabbit, mouse or squirrel, but it is a natural instinct for him and so you cannot discipline him for this behaviour.
The best thing to do is keep your dog in an enclosed space and away from small fast moving furry things! Avoid letting your dog off lead in an area where there are lots of squirrels or rabbits (unless of course he is a working dog protecting a farm from rats!) So that your JRT still gets his exercise you can consider getting a long leash or even a climbing rope (very secure) so that he can run around freely without the worry of him darting across a main road because he’s seen a cat!
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Guarding or Aggressive Behaviour
If trained and socialised well, Jack Russells rarely show aggression to people or other dogs. When Jack Russells do show aggression it’s usually due to fear or guarding behaviour. For fear of strangers or protectiveness of owner, you can use clicker training. The dog first learns to associate a clicker sound with getting a treat (treat must be administered within 5 seconds). Once your dog understands that the click means a reward you can use it when he is displaying the desired behaviour e.g. not being aggressive. Get closer to the person or thing that he is protecting and continue to click treat. As soon as the undesired aggressive behaviour starts turn your back and the click treating immediately stops.
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If your dog is aggressive when you go near his toys or food, you can teach him the ‘trade’ game. When he gives up his toy he gets another toy in return (or a chew or a treat!) Slowly he begins to learn that it is OK to give something up and that there is no need to display aggression.
Digging is a natural Jack Russell Behaviour, but when it is in the wrong place such as a lawn or flower bed, this behaviour can become a problem. The best way to deal with digging behaviour is to divert the focus and allow him or her to dig somewhere else. For example, you could get your dog a sandpit and encourage digging there for treats and bones. He is then allowed to display this natural behaviour and knows where the digging can take place. If he digs in the wrong place, a simple ‘no!’ or ‘Ah-ah’ will do the trick. Then place him in his allocated digging area and encourage it there.
Jack Russells can develop leash reactivity due to their prey drive and high energy levels. This could manifest itself as pulling, lunging and even growling and barking at things that go past which could include other dogs, scooters and bikes/motorcycles. This is a difficult Jack Russell behaviour to break them out of. Exercise will help – if your JRT is inadequately exercised then you can expect this behaviour to get worse.
Clicker training is an excellent way to correct this behaviour. It may take time and may not eradicate the behaviour 100%, but with every JRT I have done this with I have seen an improvement. They will quickly realise that when you see another dog/bike/whetever then if they don’t bark meat falls from the sky!
As Jack Russells are very intelligent, they tend to toilet train within just a few days of being treated when they do it in the right place. However, some Jack Russells display ‘scent marking’ behaviour when they wee in the house a small amount to leave their scent. It’s like them saying ‘this is my gaff!’ This behaviour is particularly bad with male Jack Russells who just love cocking their leg! To stop this undesirable and very stinky behaviour you need to catch him in the act every time. This means that your JRT won’t be able to be left alone until he has been trained out of this behaviour. As soon as you see him go to cock his leg you need to firmly tell him ‘no!’ or ‘ah-ah’ and then immediately place him outside. When he does it outside it should result in lots of immediate praise and treats. He will soon get the message!
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