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Common Jack Russell Problem Behaviors and What To Do About Them

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

Comments 30 comments

Joanne Carpenter 5 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.


Shane 2 years ago

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


mary mc lauchlan 2 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.


Frank 2 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


Nina 2 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


Ben 2 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?


Marie Davis 20 months 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?


Angie 19 months 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.


alison 16 months 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.


Yolandi 15 months 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!


elaine 14 months 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


cilla 9 months 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


margaret 8 months 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


Avril Perrin 7 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.


liz lee 6 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.


Jennifer 5 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


Chris 4 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.


Barb 3 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.


SukiBlackCat 3 months ago

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


Yellowturtle1 3 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 .


Barb Keck 3 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.


Judy 2 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.


Calataylor70@hotmail.co.uk 2 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


shelanGatehouse@icloud.com 2 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


Mary 7 weeks 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!


Karen 6 weeks 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


Abby 4 weeks 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


Sarah 4 weeks ago

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


Barbara 11 days 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 ....


shirley 4 days 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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