How Not to Train a Jack Russell Terrier
Despite the fact that I have read just about everything there is to read about training Jack Russell terriers (JRTs), I have yet to be able to put that vast knowledge to any productive use. But, I love my JRT, Oliver, anyway.
What I am, apparently, is an expert in how not to train your JRT, so here goes:
1. DON'T: Let them sleep outside their kennel.
No matter how much they whine at first, do not let your Jack Russell terrier get in the habit of sleeping outside of his or her kennel. You will have the most excrutiating time trying to get them to return to it later. Also, unless you want your dog wedged as a permanent fixture between you and your spouse at night in bed, do not let your JRT sleep in your bed. You have to be firm when training your Jack Russell.
2. DON'T: Let them feel dominant.
Do not let your Jack Russell terrier get into the habit of standing on top of you with his or her paws on your chest. As much as you might love playing with them on the floor, they will very quickly begin to feel a sense of dominance. Pretty soon, they are the boss. It is hard enough to persuade them that you are the boss anyway!
3. DON'T: Give praise right after discipline.
When you discipline your Jack Russell, do not immediately follow the discipline with love and affection. As guilt-ridden as you may be for having to tell your dog "No!", do not confuse your Jack Russell with mixed emotions. He or she needs to learn the difference between praise and discipline. This is essential.
4. DON'T: Let your JRT demonstrate dominance over other dogs.
There are several well-trained, considerably larger dogs in my neighborhood, but Oliver firmly believes he is twice the size of all them (put together). Luckily, those dogs are well-behaved. As much as your Jack Russell will love to show off that he set another dog running with his or her fierce bark, you must correct this behavior. It will help when he or she comes across a dog who is not so well trained. It is essential that you socialize your Jack Russell during their training.
5. DON'T: Let them get comfortable on your furniture.
Do not let your dog get accustomed to being on the furniture at will. Train your Jack Russell that you determine when it is okay for him or her to be on the sofa, or on the bed, or on the kitchen table (no joke). It is easier to train your dog properly first than to try to retrain it later.
6. DON'T: Let them ride in the front seat.
Do not let your Jack Russell ride in the front seat of the car with you. There are plenty of good dog seats that buckle easily into your rear seat's seat belt. Use them! Trust me, if you don't, you will have a co-pilot sooner than you think. I mean it, hands on the steering wheel and all.
7. DON'T: Give them table scraps.
Do not respond to your dog's begging for table scraps. All it takes is once, and your quiet meals at home are history (dinner parties, history; holiday meals, history; barbecues, interesting). Our Jack Russell would voluntarily start doing tricks at the prospect of a human treat. Be strong!
8. DON'T: Let your Jack Russell become the pack leader.
As much as it has become normal to have one pet, dogs are still pack animals. They instinctively behave as they would in the wild, as they would in a pack. As much as you want to spoil your JRT rotten, you have to be the alpha dog—otherwise, your dog will walk you, not the other way around. Quite literally, your JRT will become the leader of the house: playing when they want to, waking you up when they want to, tagging alone when they want to, you name it.
9. DON'T: Forget that they are a dog—not a human.
Do not forget that your Jack Russell is still a dog. As lovable and fun and fantastic as they are, they are not human, but trying convincing them of that! If you can remember your JRT is not human, it will be easier teaching it that he or she is not human. This is probably the toughest one. Remember, your Jack Russell is a member of the family, but not human. If you treat your dog like a human, it will think it is human, and a dog cannot have a full life living as a human.
10. DO: Love your dog.
Enjoy your JRT; they are loads of entertainment. They are smart, tricky, full of life, friendly, and they think this world was made just for them.
Here is an example: Our first JRT (Maggie) completely developed her own soccer game. She loved to play catch with tennis balls (yes catch, I would throw—up, over-the-shoulder, fast-pitch, slow-pitch-you name it—she would catch). One day while I was cooking supper, she decided (notice I said she decided, see number three above) it was time to play ball. So, she threw (yes, threw—she could throw the tennis ball by moving her head) me the ball, and I, being preoccupied with pots, pans, oven doors, etc., kicked the ball back to her. It got past her through an open door, and the game was on. She then became a doorway soccer goalie. If you kicked the ball past her, she got mad, if she defended the goal, she was victorious and would return the ball so you could try again. Any doorway was fair game, any hall, in anyone's house. It was great.
Yes, I love my JRT, and I would highly recommend them as pets for the right family. But, I am not much more than an oversized plaything for mine, as my experience clearly indicates. So, learn from my mistakes and enjoy your Jack Russell.
Jack Russell Terrier Links
A Jack Russell and a Vacuum
My Jack Russell Terriers
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.