Common Jack Russell Problem Behaviors and What To Do About Them

Updated on January 27, 2015

Chewing on Shoes? Who, Me?

All Jack Russell Terrier (JRT) owners know that these little dogs come with some drawbacks. But are Jack Russell problem behaviors just something we have to live with? The truth is that many behavioral problems have very simple solutions.

Here are some of the biggest headache-inducing JRT behaviors and how you can fix them.

Keep Your Jack Russell Terrier from Barking

Barking is a completely natural habit for a dog, and Jack Russells tend to be a bit noisier than most breeds. But there are times when barking just isn’t appropriate, so for your own sake and the sake of your neighbours, you need to get this under control.

The first thing you need to do is determine why the dog is barking in the first place. The biggest reason that Jack Russells bark are because of boredom or anxiety.

Boredom can be easily fixed by giving your dog a variety of chews to entertain herself with. Try buying hollow nylon chews which you can fill up with peanut butter, which works as a great treat.

Anxiety is a little harder to deal with. If there is something in the environment which is intimidating your dog—a neighbor’s dog, for example—you can block it from view with curtains or fencing. If the anxiety is the result of being separated from you, the proper treatment is to gradually get your dog used to being alone. Leave it for very short periods at first, then come back with a reward. Slowly increase the amount of time that you leave the dog alone.

Keep Your Terrier From Jumping Up

Jumping up can actually be quite scary for many people, even with a small dog like a Jack Russell. Also, it's just plain annoying. Jumping up is usually caused by overexcitement. The solution is to make sure the dog gets its fair share of excitement throughout the day through games and exercise so it doesn’t end up releasing all its pent-up energy on unsuspecting guests.

Start going for more walks, play games that exhaust your dog like fetch, and teach the dog to sit on command.

Discourage Destructive Behavior

This habit, like barking, is usually the result of boredom or separation anxiety. If you leave a puppy alone in your bedroom all day, you shouldn’t be surprised when you come home to a pair of chewed-up shoes. For a young dog, keep it in a puppy pen when you have to leave it alone. For older dogs, this is usually a bad habit formed in puppyhood that never got trained out. Starting a formal training regime with a disobedient dog will help to set some boundaries. Also, deal with your dogs boredom – up the games and physical activity, and provide some new treats and toys. Variation of toys and mental stimulation is important for an intelligent breed like the Jack Russell.

Teach Your Dog Non-Aggressive Behavior

Aggression can be a real problem with Jack Russells, whether it’s aggression towards certain people, strangers, other dogs, or over food and toys. Often it’s a sign of a lack of socialization and is common among some rescue dogs. However, a sudden change in behavior towards aggression in a usually friendly dog can also be a sign of injury or illness.

If the aggression has come on suddenly, contact your vet. If it is an ongoing problem, try slowly introducing the dog to environments and situations where it may act aggressively, providing treats and rewards to build up a positive association.

Stop Your Dog's Biting

Biting is particularly a problem in puppies, but it can be an issue with older dogs too. To stop play-biting, all you need to do is hold the puppy’s mouth shut for a few seconds, say “No” firmly and then stick a chewy treat or toy in its mouth.

This lets the dog know what it should be chewing on rather than human skin. If you have an adult dog with biting problems, this is a serious matter that will probably require the skills of a professional trainer.

Keep Your Dog from Running Away

Jack Russells are born hunters, and they were made to dig—so dig they shall, even if it means digging under your fence. The tendency of dogs to go roaming is generally inspired by natural urges to go and find a mate. The tendency can be reduced a great deal by neutering and spaying.

There are many other health benefits to neutering your dog too. On top of that, you should escape-proof your house and back yard, using chicken wire where necessary to block your dog from digging under fences.

Solve Your Dog's Hyperactivity

Jack Russells are pretty hyper by nature, but many are excessively hyper because their owners don’t help them release their energy. If your dog is excessively hyper it very likely needs more exercise.

Add an extra walk to your exercise regime, make walks longer and more challenging, teach your dog to swim, and start playing lots of games. Perhaps invest in a tennis ball launcher to help you throw a ball further in a game of fetch. This is about the only way your Jack Russell will get tired before you do.

Video: Preventing Dog Door Dashing


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      Help anon 10 days ago

      So my JRT jumps on just me and try’s to bite me yes I have scars from him scratching. He’s eight months old and can sit on command but when it’s me he just acts up. We go for walks regularly so idk what the problem is.

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      Sophie 2 weeks ago

      My jack Russell is not even 2 yet and she doesn’t do any of this so just train your dogs better

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      Sandra 2 weeks ago

      My 4 month old puppy keeps picking up pebbles when I try to take it off him he runs off thinking it's a game how can I stop him doing this I'm at my wits end , help

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      Graham Nash 6 weeks ago

      we have taken our Jack Russell to the vets because when we stroke or tittle her chest she squeals and darts away we are not applying any pressure and the vets can't find anything wrong wth her what could this be?

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      Karen Bowering 2 months ago

      Why does my jack Russell sit on me like a chair

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      Dog lover 2 months ago

      My 5 month old JRT is very well socialised with people and dogs however he’s started hurting my chorkie leaving marks on him and hanging off my shih tzu s ears making him cry doesn’t matter

      What I do to try and stop it he won’t :(

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      Mrs R Mohanarajhan 2 months ago

      I am having Jackrussell since 7 week s old now he is 1 year 3 months old

      He is keep biting my chichildren 14 teen and 12year now he is biting me as well .what can I do

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      Alies 2 months ago

      Hello. Few Problems with my Jack: he is around 4 years old and tend to bite without any reason. For example Kids or other People just want to pet him and sometimes he is good but sometimes he turns back and bite. What can be the reason for it? Another Problem is that he jumps and sleeps on the bed when I am away. my wife can't do anything about it, because he's showing his teeths when someone wants him to go down. Any help?

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      Mrs 3 months ago

      Why dose my jack russell hump my other dog and how can we stop it

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      Sian Williams 3 months ago

      Hi all dog lovers. Our now 19 month old Jack Russell poppy is a real delight. She has never ever destroyed anything in the house or caravan even when left alone. However we suddenly no longer want to sleep... In the caravan obviously we can't have her barking, not that she does a lot of that anyway, so she sleeps on her own bed on the floor but often ends up on the bed. At home she sleeps in the crate in the kitchen and comes to me when husband goes to work. This has been absolutely fine until about a month ago. Nothing has changed in our routine or home... Please help as getting worried and soooo tired. Many thanks for your help.

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      Dawn Fuerst 3 months ago

      I have to jack russell 12 week old puppies and they keep peeing in their bed. I have the bed outside the crate I do not use pads I take them out when they need to pee they usually go to the door but if I'm not there to see the last few times they've peed in their bed and not the crate help help please

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      Queen Buddha 3 months ago

      I have a Jack Russell and he eats everything. Trash, socks and he chewed up my granny's glasses. How do I stop him?

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      charleigh 4 months ago

      my dogs cant exercise daily due to work and school for the people In the house, however they do run around lots and play most of the time. the problem is- if there is even a slight sound from outside they are up and running/barking and if someone is at the door and we open it they run out into the street and its very dangerous seeing as our neighbours own 10 different breed dogs who ultimately will harm them. they pee anywhere and basically do what they want, they have control of the household and there isn't anything we can do. also when we do play with them they just bark and it creates an unbearable situation for us. we do let the dogs play in the garden on a regular basis but they are so ill behaved out there too, they will go anywhere in the garden to the loo apart from the grass and that creates extra chores. my girl jack Russell- poppy is quite violent too, e.g if she sees us playing with our cat she'll pounce and bite. if we tell her off she only jumps and licks and she just doesn't understand us. they are both rescue dogs and are aged 6 and 4 we have tried everything but its really hard when one doesn't like treats so they are hard to train because when given them they see it as a chance to fight over who has what. they do this with food too, eating out of eachothers bowls . poppy / the girl has a skin condition too and she is ALWAYS scratching .

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      Carla 5 months ago

      My Jack Russell has become aggressive to myself and my husband lately and dont know why he has always been a lover now all of a sudden he growl and trys to bite us. HELP !!!!!!

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      Jodie 5 months ago

      I have a jack a bee. We adopted from a shelter he is 2-3 yrs. He is great my son my husband an I an adults but he growls an barks when he sees my nieces an nephews even if they are just standing there he growls an barks in an aggressive way. How do I get him to stop so he can get used to them???

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      sue 6 months ago

      We have a cute wee jack Russell that is just over a year old. He gives us endless laughs every day. He is so sociable, just loves to interact with anyone or anything! Yes he is full on and doesn't like to be on his own except when he wants to hunt or very tired. He's lucky as we have a farm and live near the beach so he gets lots of exercise and meets lots of other dogs. He loves cardboard boxes so let him destroy them rather than shoes etc. He has a happy smiley nature that we encourage. Jumping is a problem but have to be firm with the down command or have him on a lead. We love him to bits and have lots of time for him so I guess a jack Russell works well for us!

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      simple solution for dogs that bite strangers 10 months ago

      use a leash, if none is at hand, a bit of rope will do.

      beyond that, if 'one' walk a day isn't enough for your dog, try 4 walks a day. If you don't have time for 4 walks a day, pay somebody who has. There isn't a dog-problem in the world that cannot be solved with time, affection but above all, consistency. Make the wrong thing hard and the right thing easy.

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      ashley 11 months ago

      My jack russell hates strangers of all ages and when comes at the door or is in our yard he will bite them....I nervous I'm gonna have to put my dog to sleep for hurting someone he bit.....please help

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      Helena 11 months ago

      So, my boyfriend decided he wanted a puppy. He found a litter of jack russells. We didnt do any research about the breeds behavior or anything. We have a five year old pitboxer/labshepherd mix he is a male. The puppy is also a male. The puppy has nipped at my older dog and my three year old daughter. Im concerned he made a mistake getting a jr. Ive had my five year old pit mix since he was two months old due to his mothers passing, he is welp behaved, great with my children, and very well mannered towards strangers. My boyfriend is convinced the puppy will learn just as my five year old did and be as well behaved. But everything ive read makes me disagree. Now the puppy is supposed to be his dog, but he wont leave myside always wants to be on my lap. Im worried that he will become to protective over me. What can i do? How can i train him to be a loving non agressive dog. I really want him to do well with my children thats probably my main concern. What can i do so my boyfriend doesnt have to give him up?

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      Dawn 12 months ago

      My JRT is a! I've tried training her, which I stuck to on a daily basis, but that didn't work. I swear my baby girl has separation anxiety, ADHD, she is allergic to everything (including fleas), she is super attached to me, and stubborn as hell, but I love her either way. She also barks at every one, no matter a dog or another human being, or when she is excited. Not to mention, she is very vocal when she plays (she sounds like she is eating her sister alive, but she barley bites when playing ). I'm at a complete loss at getting my stubborn baby under control, but willing to try new (but safe) ways of getting her to mind.

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      Joy 12 months ago

      The jr next door has made our life a nightmare for the last twelve years with its constant barking. Normally I would inform the authorities but the owner is old and frail. What can I do to spare my sanity.

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      Danneille 13 months ago

      I'm having an issue with my JRT. I had him nurtured a month ago and he's regressed from a calm and non disctuctive Jack, to ripping apart his bed and anything he can reach. I have no idea how to curbe this.

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      Jeanette 13 months ago

      I have a 14 week Jack Russell and he is aggressive toward my mom and kids. He gets mad if my kids touch him or hold him.

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      Caroline 15 months ago

      Frank... Probably Anal Glands are needing emptied that can cause dragging behind on the floor..

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      mario 15 months ago

      I have a Jack Russel he is about 11- 13 years old, and the first couple weeks he was great, didnt act up or anything. His hearing is going and i believe his eyesight may be weakening, he is startled easily and doesnt hear as well. Lately he has been barking at all hours of the day, scratching, jumping and running headfirst at doors. And now he is attacking us rabidly.

      He was barking loud and I sternly told him NO!he understood and hung his head but then I closed the bedroom door and he immediately ran into the living room and started tearing at the leather couch cushion with his claws, hes never done this. He is being extremely challenging, he wont listen to commands and he is snarling, worse if you go near him while hes snarling he'll snap into full attack/kill mode. I have had to lock him in the spare bedroom when he is acting up but he just keeps banging, scratching, whining and barking at the door for hours non stop.

      I know this can be a number of issues from unknown changes in old age, separation anxiety, stress, or doggy alzheimers. There are 3 of us here and we take him on plenty of walks, give him lots of attention and feed him regularly. At this point i dont know what to do and now that he is attacking at random I do not want him sleeping in the bedroom. If anyone has any answers please. This experience has completely changed my perspective about jack russell dogs, a very challenging breed for sure. I do not suggest.

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      lori 15 months ago

      My 5 year old Male Jack attacked my 15 year old Male Jack for no reason.. I couldn't pull him off and it was sooo scary... any ideas how to prevent this...

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      karl 15 months ago

      Frank, your JRT needs its anal glands emptying, this is why they rub their bums on the floor mostly, or maybe he/she has eaten a hair, and its tickling its bum

    • profile image 16 months ago

      Hi I have got a 6 year old jack Russell male and I have just getting a 8week old jack Russell puppy and the dog is keep growling at the puppy when he is wantyto play and if he goes near his toys I have only had the puppy 2 days will he be like this all the time? Can you help me please

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      Danielle 16 months ago

      For anyone who has a jack who rubs the bum along the floor it's not always a case of worms, jack Russell's get swollen anal glands which need to be popped, my jack has them popped by the vet every time I see her bum dragging on my carpet!! Annoying as it is I thought worms too but I was wrong lol.

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      shirley 16 months ago

      i have a rescue jr he is now 13 or 14 yrs old,he is difficult sometimes , h e is neutered but wants to hump my bed pillows and tear them apart, and is aggressive at times, he has bitten me, several times and lately drawing blood, this is sometimes without warning, other times he is cuddly, and ok , i dont know what to do, my husband passed and i do my best for him ,

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      Barbara 17 months ago

      Need your help .. Have two females jack Russell both are 22 months old and both got fixed ... Some time they play toghter great some time they aggressive and got fight what should I do with them I love them so much I do gave them alots love It's pretty frustusrate me ....

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      Sarah 17 months ago

      Abby, I currently have 3 but have had 4. Did she eat a bone or something hard?

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      Abby 17 months ago

      My jrt was outside going to the bathroom and when I let her in she was screaming and running all over the house. We didn't know what happened to her. Was she scared? Was she hurt? We had know idea. She is 13. Any advice

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      Karen 18 months ago

      We have a rescue girl aged 1 year. She has been so good with children other dogs everything. She has been with us 3 months. She was ill with D & V but better now, but on antibiotics, but seems healthy in herself. Today my daughter (adult) took her to a football match (she has been to car shows and other places with us with no problem). She growled at her friends boy aged 6, and she felt fearful she might snap. She also growled at another dog. We had an incident about 3 weeks ago with a friends dog, but we established this was over food left down. As she has been so good before with children, strangers and other dogs I do not know what has caused this. I heard there is a honeymoon period with dogs and maybe we need to be firm with her now as she is much loved by us all. Any thoughts

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      Mary 18 months ago

      For all of you that owns a JR, be patient! I have a nice jr giving to me at 2 because he destroyed everything in the house! I decided to give him a chance! I had at the time 2 others dogs he was friend with them all good! I have always play so he get tired and never destroyed my house! At one point one of my dog was old 15 and sick and my jr was now5 he started attacking him in the neck and hurting him! I learn latter that some dogs can or want to kill a sick one but i end to old dog suffering myself at the vet! My JR was then very nice and play with the other one! Yes he want to escape the yard so he always carry a long rope so i can step on it if he wants to jump the 6ft fence! He bites some delivery guy at the ankles but only one company?? He sometimes pee in the house if i leave but then he gets no cookies! And he knows too well! Now he is 8 he is more abd more lovely and i am learning that they are very intelligent play a lot show you are the boss but dont hurt them say no and use cookies when its good or piece of meat and love! My experience so far works well!

    • profile image 18 months ago

      I have two brother jack russells and i love them both like children they have different personalities when i go out it seems that one has seperation issues and the other wants to punish me and i have an arm ful of scratshes and bites they bark at any noise when i stay at home i have a fight between them as they both want to be top dog they are stupid when getting them out but once they are they are great they dont like strangers and when they are aprouched i cant guarentee they will not bite

    • profile image 18 months ago

      Hi our 3 year old jack Russell is lovely and sweet at home but as soon as the postman or a delivery man comes she try's to attack them she's uncontrollable, have you any ideas what we need to do to stop her from doing this ? X

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      Judy 19 months ago

      After reading all these questions (no answers, I've noticed) I realize my JRT is a pretty great little guy after all (he'll never be perfect ). He's 2 and I've done training with him in group lessons (where he learns to focus on me with other dogs around) and I can honestly say it's really working though it does take time and patience. These are clearly not train-'em-once-and-they're-done dogs. Ongoing training is crucial and you always have to be the parent (or the boss). These dogs require constant training, formally with a trainer first, then later on with you as "trainer" if you can always do what the trainer told you to do. I swear these were the dogs the trainers coined the term "no free lunches" for. They need lots of interaction but you'll get your throwing arm in great shape.

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      Barb Keck 19 months ago

      My Jack Russell is 6 yrs. old. She was given to us when she was 3 yrs by a lady that had her strictly for breeding. She was crated 24/7 and only taken outto do her business. She's never been very good with other dogs but 2 months ago granddaughter got a pup lab/shep mix she's pretty good with her but shortly after my son's fiance moved in wth her pets american bull dog/american boxer( sweet do ), 3 cats and 4 ferrets. The ferrets she ignores. the cats she fine with but the poor dogshe's attacked twice. We now keep them separated they take turns having free run of the main level. I have to keep her in my grandson's roomthe rest of the time. Seteeva the big dog is in thebasement with my son and fiance. The problem is the JR att6acks the basement door if shehears noice in the basement which sets off the big dog. We tried having them spend time together in the basement and she be doing really well ( playing,lick each etc. ) and then all of a sudden she'll start getting aggressive. I love them both but it's driving crazy. If anyone can HELP please.

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      Yellowturtle1 20 months ago

      I have two Jack Russels we are looking for someone to keep them for 1 month, Or how ever long it will take for us to move. People with little dog have become afraid of them. They have been ordered to leave mobile Park. Do not want to destroy them. Owner loves them dearly....if someone has a yard no cats or other dogs....They would love to come and visit .

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      SukiBlackCat 20 months ago

      Please help, my jackrussel attacks my cat, my cat is very old and frail. My doggy bites her neck.

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      Barb 20 months ago

      I see my JRT in so many of these comments, but what I need are solutions. I have been unable to do as much with my JRT since an illness caused me some limited mobility. She is very loving and protective of me, but my live-in grandson does very little with her and she sometimes does not get outside until afternoon. How do I then help my dog more and reduce increasing aggression? THANKS.

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      Chris 21 months ago

      I got my JR when he was aged 6. He was not interacted with very much but fed and watered and sheltered. Since in my home he has been a loving, funny, very smart little dog. He is an inside dog, has a bed in each room, sleeps with either of my sons and thoroughly enjoys his life. He is prone to be a bit aggressive if I want to enter either of my sons bedrooms after bed time but I work around that. The issue I have is that although he has a doggie flap and uses it, is regularly encouraged to go outside to toilet via the door, he still pees and poos inside. This is getting much worse and he is destroying my house. At around 12.......hard to know as the previous owner is not sure..............what to do about it. Tried everything including medication. It would break his heart if he had to live outside as he loves being part of the family but I can't keep doing this. Help us both please.

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      Jennifer 22 months ago

      We have two dogs the first is a Scottish terrier and we were given our Jack Russell which was three months old from our daughter our dogs are 12 and 10 now this long haired Jack Russell is scared of every thing , jealous and if my scotty wants to play JR goes her she will attack her ,if a dog which she has meet previously comes into yard I have to hold her until she stops snarling flip a switch and she wagging her tail. Can't walk her as she gets hyper if see another dog so attacks my other dog when she was a puppy my husband and I were sitting watching tv and has a dog each patting them the JR flew off chair airborn to attack the other dog Dog fight on my lap so we don't do that any more I'm sure these dogs are just plain nuts

      Never had a dog like this and don't want one ever again

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      liz lee 22 months ago

      hi i have a 2 year old jack russell cross with corgi i got him from rescue.ive been struggling with him pulling on the lead so i bough a harness on buying the harness i put it on for his afternoon walk he acts really strange and walks kind of stiff??but dosnt pull he looks terrified.

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      Avril Perrin 24 months ago

      Hi, I have had my Jr. A year, he is 6. Since being attacked. By two different dogs. He has become. Very clinging, and intolerant to other dogs, he,ll stand on garden wall or jump over it, just to have ago. Not physically, but alot of noise. Apart from that. He is a fantastic. Loving, friendly, but stubborn dog. Won,the go to park. Since attack. Can anyone help please.

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      margaret 2 years ago

      my jack is 13 twice this wk as gone to nip me once when i was drying her after her bath and once when i was trying to pick her up of the settee

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      cilla 2 years ago

      I am having a lot of problems with my JRT she bites the cat has bite me jumps all over furniture fights viciously with other dogs she is 6 and unsprayed. Barks incessantly. please I need help

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      elaine 2 years ago

      My 18 month old jack keeps lickin the floor and walls is this normalx he has also bit me twice wen hes been tired

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      Yolandi 2 years ago

      My jack russel started escaping from my yard. We've since closed it and now he can't get out. Now he's owling and "crying" the whole day, everyday. We take him for a walk everyday, but still... He's making me crazy!

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      alison 2 years ago

      I have had my JR since 8 weeks old and has been a real handful. He is now 14 and still difficult to manage. He is aggressive with other bigger dogs when I walk him and he doesn't like people coming to the house. He can be very stressful to deal with and he obviously thinks he's the boss. I thought he might have calmed down the older he gets but he still shows aggressive behaviour. I cannot cut his nails or clean his teeth as he growls at me when I try. His nails grow quickly although I walk him daily. He does give me some pleasure and affection. I just wish it was more pleasurable to take him out instead it's a chore I don't want to do. Can anyone give me some tips.

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      Angie 2 years ago

      I have a JR who is 18 months old I have had him for a couple of months I don't no what to do with him he's great one minute and aggressive the next he has growled at me a few times he goes for anyone that comes near me (my husband and my son ) what can I do.

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      Marie Davis 3 years ago

      My JRT McDuff was taught to come when called as a puppy. Now he is 16 months old and has regressed back to NOT coming when called. We live on 10 acres in the country and this has become a BIG problen. Would a training or shock collar help to solve our peoblem?

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      Ben 3 years ago

      I have a lovely 2 year old Jack Russell crossed with a TFT. She is the most loving dog in the world but gets extremely possessive over toys and being woken up and shown the dog to go outside, in other words extremely stubborn.

      Any tips on curbing her possessiveness and her stubborn streak?

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      Nina 3 years ago

      My long haired jack has always been 'fiesty' and we've invested in training but lately his behaviour is more aggressive, going for people's ankles (if they are wearing dark trousers/shoes) and no longer tolerates a delivery person. This morning he went for someone's ankles that came to the house - it's getting worse & I'm worried what to do next? Some advice would be brilliant. Thank you

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      Frank 3 years ago

      My jack has started rubbing her bottom on the floor she is quite actuated scratches her pauses on the carpet before she sleeps and most off the night I have gave her 4worm tabs in the last 2weeks she is still doing it she is still eating and passing water also her boules are norm she's not sick put I can't find a solution can you thanks

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      mary mc lauchlan 3 years ago

      How do I stop my jrp from doing toilet in the house she does it outside when she goes out walking or goes in back garden but still she does it in house. She's 4mth old any tips please.

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      Shane 4 years ago

      How do you stop a jack russlle chewing wallpaper and skirting boards

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      Joanne Carpenter 7 years ago

      Just a tip for exercizeing your hyper doggy without wearing yourself out to a calapse state of exhastion. Invest in a laser light and watch the excitement for hours till it stops,fals flat on the floor and pants by the water dish with tail going.