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Your Jack Russell Puppy Care Checklist - Jack Russell Crazy Issue #21
August 25, 2011
Chill Out Dude--Your High Energy, Ultra-Smart JRT
Chill Out Dude!
"Wow, your dog must have ADHD", exlaimed a woman!. "She must really wear you out" said another sympathetically. "Get any sleep at night?". Those were frequent comments I would get at the dog park as my Jack Bella would run around me in circles. I was so embarrassed by Bella's behavior that I immediately set myself on a path of researching new training methods. What I was doing at home obviously wasn't working! I needed some zen in my life and I needed it quick.
Having had a few Jack's now, here are some of the things that have worked for me. My zen and chi have been restored!
1. Physical Exercise- I cannot emphasize that enough. Especially for young Jacks. A walk around the block in the morning wasn't enough for my Bella. I had to schedule in a full hour. In the beginning I was a bit resentful of losing a precious hour of sleep. I didn't even have time to grab a cup of coffee before Bella was bolting for the door. However, that hour in the morning really took the "edge" off. Was she worn out? No! But she wasn't destroying my house either which was a big success in itself. I also lost a few pounds which was an added bonus. Some folks I know ride a bike (carefully) or wear roller skates while exercising their Jack. There are even special packs for Jack's to wear or carts to pull that you can find at pet specialty stores which aid in burning off that extra steam.
2. Mind Games- In human relationships, mind games are considered a bad thing but for the dog human relationship it is just the opposite! Everyone should think about doing games that mentally stimulate your Jack. Jack's are smart and just sitting at home watching Animal Planet is not going to cut it for these high energy animals. One game to play is called "find it". Basically a hide and seek game with small sized treats. Start by having your Jack sit. Toss a treat to your left and say "find it". Then repeat on your right side. Do this a half dozen times. Then have your dog sit and wait (or have someone hold his leash) and move 10-12 feet away. Place a treat on the floor and say "find it'. Again, do it a half dozen times. Next, have him sit and wait(or have someone hold his leash) and have him watch you hide a treat in a easy spot such as under a table or behind the leg of a chair. Again, say "find it" and watch him go. Repeat a half dozen times. Start adding a few treats in more then one spot while he is watching. He might not get all of them. Help him a little by pointing him to the general area of the treat. Finally, when he has mastered all of the above you can move onto harder places. While he is watching, hide treats in easy to open containers, on top of surfaces off the ground, etc. And when he has mastered all of that.....have him sit in one room while you hid treats in another. Bring him to the room and use your cue "find it". He will have to use his nose to sniff the treat out. After all this, both master and dog may need a little nap!
A variation on this game is to play "find me". In this game, have your Jack sit (or have someone hold his leash) while you go hide. Say "find me" and give him a treat when he come to you. Start off easy and make your way to harder spots. You can find more mind games on the website under "puppy games" on the left hand side.
3. Clicker Training- An issue for high energy dogs can be that when you praise them they get revved up again. Clicking for calm, means using a little clicking device to help shape a desired behavior (in this case, calm). When you catch your dog being calm, you make a click and give the dog a treat. With the absense of the verbal praise that causes excitement, you are hopefully teaching the dog that their calm behavior gets them a treat without stimulating them. For dogs who are expecially active, start by giving them a click then treat when all four paws are on the ground. But, you've got to be fast and get him before he gets into motion again. By gradually extending the time he stands still before the click is applied and the treat given reinforces this positive behavior. Clicking for calm behavior during "sit" and "down" are also great times to practice this. And doing clicker training after exercise is even better because the dog is already a little tired. You can find out more about clicker training by clicking :-) on the left hand side of the Jack Russell Lover website under clicker training.
4. Behavior Management- Sometimes behaviors occur when your Jack is unsupervised. For those instances you are going to need some tricks and tools. One tool that is very helpful is a crate. When I worked out of the house I would crate Bella because I didn't want to give her free reign of the house. I like my furniture, thank you very much. Make sure you take the time to properly introduce your Jack to the crate and that he or she accepts it as a happy place. The crate is a second home so make sure it is comfortable and is equipted with a toy or food stuffed kong. Dogs who are prone to anxiousness usually have more trouble taking to a crate. Also, a good rule of thumb is to keep a dog in their crate no longer then 1 hour more then the puppy's age in months and never longer then 8 hours total. Be mindful of being back in a reasonable time because dogs really really hate to soil their crates. Another trick of the trade for high energy Jack's that can't be trusted around the house is to use a tether. A tether can be hooked up to belt worn around the waist or with a carabineer and a belt loop. Your dog will not be able to whip around the house if he is "tethered" to your side. You can also catch and reinforce behaviors that are positive with him in such close proximity.
Here are some things to remember. High energy behavior is not the fault of your Jack. It is something that's innate. By being consistent with exercise, training and behavior management you should see results. If you are not seeing results, write into the forum and see if your fellow Jack Lovers can help you problem solve any issues you might be having.
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We absolutely love receiving photos of your JRTs. That's why we are holding our third, September cute JRT contest. Send us your most adorable JRT photos with a brief explanation of who your JRT is and what your JRT is doing/thinking/scheming about in the picture. It's okay if you've already entered in the past, just send us a different picture of your JRT than the one you've previously submitted. The winner will be announced on September 20th, will be featured on our homepage, and will receive a prize from our new JRT Amazon Store. Submit your photos here!
'Til Next Time...
Take care - and take care of your JRT!
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