Common Jack Russell behavior problems and what to do about them
Excessive barking. Barking is a completely natural habit for a dog, and Jack Russells tend to be a bit louder than most breeds. But there are times when barking is not appropriate, so for your own sake and that of your neighbors, you should control it.
The first thing to do is determine why the dog is barking in the first place. There can be many reasons for this, but the most important ones for Jack Russell are boredom and anxiety. Boredom can be easily remedied by giving your dog a variety of chews to entertain himself. Try buying hollow nylon chews that you can fill with peanut butter; this works wonders.
Anxiety is a bit more difficult to handle. If there is something in the environment that is intimidating your dog (for example, a neighbor’s dog), block it with curtains or fences. If anxiety is the result of being separated from you, the proper treatment is to gradually accustom your dog to being alone. Leave it for very short periods at first, then come back with a reward. Slowly increase the time the dog is alone.
Jumping. This can actually be quite scary for many people, even with a small dog like a Jack Russell, and it’s just plain annoying too. This is usually caused by overexcitation. The solution is to make sure the dog gets its fair share of excitement throughout the day through play and exercise, so that it doesn’t end up releasing all of its pent-up energy on unsuspecting guests. Start taking more walks, play exhausting games like Fetch, and teach him to sit when ordered.
Destructive behavior. This habit, like barking, is often the result of boredom or separation anxiety. If you leave a puppy alone in your room all day, you shouldn’t be surprised when you get home to find a chewed pair of shoes. For a young dog, keep him in a puppy pen when you have to leave him alone. For older dogs, this is usually a bad habit that is formed at the puppy stage and is never trained. Starting a formal training regimen with a disobedient dog will help set some limits. Also, take care of your dogs’ boredom – increase play and physical activity, and provide some new treats and toys. Variation of toys and mental stimulation is important for an intelligent breed like Jack Russell.
Aggression. This can be a real problem with Jack Russells, whether from aggression towards certain people, strangers, other dogs, or from food and toys. It is often a sign of a lack of socialization and is common among some rescue dogs. But a sudden change in behavior toward aggression in a generally friendly dog can also be a sign of injury or illness. If the aggression has come on suddenly, contact your veterinarian. If it is an ongoing problem, try slowly introducing the dog to environments and situations in which he can act aggressively, giving him treats and rewards to build a positive association.
Biting This is particularly a problem with puppies, but it can also be a problem with older dogs. To stop playing biting, all you need to do is hold the puppy’s mouth closed for a few seconds, say “No” firmly, and then put a chewy treat or toy in his mouth. This lets you know what you should be chewing on instead of human skin. If you have an adult dog with bite problems, this is a serious matter that will likely require the skills of a professional handler.
Running away. Jack Russells are natural hunters and they were made to dig, so they will dig, even if it means digging under the fence. Dogs’ tendency to wander is generally inspired by natural urges to go looking for a mate. The tendency can be greatly reduced by neutering and spaying. Neutering your dog has many other health benefits as well. On top of that, you need to protect your home and your home’s backyard and backyard, using chicken wire where necessary to prevent your dog from digging under fences.
Hyperactivity Jack Russells are quite hyperactive by nature, but many are overly hyperactive because their owners don’t help them release their energy. If your dog is excessively hyperactive, he will most likely need more exercise. Add an extra walk to your exercise regimen, 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 the only way your Jack Russell will tire before you do.