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Why Your JRT Won't Do As You Say - Jack Russell Crazy, Issue #03
February 17, 2010
Dear fellow Jack Russell Lover,

Some Excellent Tips To Make Your Jack Russell More Responsive To Your Commands

Welcome back to another issue of Jack Russell Crazy! In this issue, I'm going to talk about the common reasons why people have trouble getting their Jack Russells to respond when they call them, and offer some tips for how to deal with these problems.

It Started With A Very Common Question...

One problem many JRT owners run into is that they can't get their dog to Come on command - or they can, but the dog won't come consistently. Basically, the dog just comes whenever she feels like obeying. Now, we all know that this isn't real obedience. In order to say our dogs are obedient, they have to respond to commands 100% of the time, or close to it.

Rita asked this question on the website:

"As a true JRT if he's not leashed and he sees something - "bang," he's gone. He thinks it to be rather funny when you have to chase him, just getting close enough to grab him, and then he's gone again. I would certainly appreciate any comments as to how to stop this with him. Our female was the same and it's something that we ourselves haven't learned to make him stop doing this. So we can't blame Milo - it's ourselves that have to be trained."

Here was my first quick response:

"Hi there,

Your best option for dealing with the problem of Milo running away is to attach a long lead and let it drag behind him. Use a long, fifteen foot lead - if you don't have one, you can just tie some rope or nylon thread to a short lead and this will do the trick.

Let the lead drag behind him as he roams around, and every now and then try to call him to you. If he refuses to come or tries to run away, step on the lead to keep him in check. Let him know he's not going anywhere - you've got control. Call him to come again and offer him a treat.

If he still doesn't come when he sees you've got him like this, you might have to walk over and take him by the collar and lead him over to the spot where you were standing. This will let him know that when you say "Come," he has to come.

Apart from that, just keep drilling on that "Come" command and get it as consistent as you can. Start introducing some distractions when you're training - this will help make it more consistent when it really counts.

Try this for a few days and see if the behavior improves. Just don't leave the long leash on when you're not there to supervise - he might get himself tangled up. Hope this helps. :)"

The theory behind this advice is the well-known idea that dog's respond to the pack leader. Although most people know this now thanks to popular TV shows, they don't always know what it really means.

In the dog world, when the pack leader says "Jump," the other dogs should say, "How high?" If they don't, the pack leader has the right to make them. This is very important.

Each time the dog "gets away with" not responding, that makes her even less likely to respond next time. She will think, "Oh - you're not going to enforce that command. I guess you're the leader after all."

Now, I'm NOT suggesting you dominate and force your dog to do what you want. There's a difference between leadership and dominance, as I explain in my ebook. The idea is simply to make sure you are in a position to get your dog to follow your commands. That's why you use the long leash.

The Beauty Of Having a JRT Community...

To add to this, Robbin, from, posted these excellent tips as well:

"Re Teaching COME by: Robbin's Rescued Russells

I have been involved with the JRT breed for over ten years, and have operated a small non profit JRT rescue for a little over five years. I am active with my Russells in sporting events, but mainly in sanctioned Terrier Trials and Flyball tournaments. Here are a few suggestions which I hope you will find helpful.

  • Never call Milo for anything he will see as a negative. An example of this would be: You want to trim his toenails. Don?t call him and then trim his nails. Instead go to where he is at and pick him up and take him to where you are going to do his nails.
  • NEVER chase him. Instead turn and go the opposite direction. While in the opposite direction make high pitched noises that will make him curious as to what the noise is.
  • If he stands there looking at you turn your back to him and squat down and act like you are playing with a really interesting toy. He will be curious and come to investigate.
  • NEVER scold him when you get your hands on him. When you get your hands on him praise him.
  • Until you have a reliable recall on Milo ALWAYS have some treats of high value to reward him with for coming when called.
  • In an environment he is used to that is fully fenced have someone (preferably someone he is familiar with and likes) help you and do some "restrained recalls." At first you can attach a long line to him to reinforce if needed. Each of you give Milo a couple of high value treats so he understands what you have to offer. The two humans stand about ten feet apart, one of you call Milo in a happy higher than normal tone of voice and clap your hands or whatever it takes to make him excited to come to you. The other person is to lightly restrain Milo until he is pulling to get away. Then release him. When he reaches the "caller" praise him and give him a treat. Then reverse the rolls and have the other person be the caller. You can increase the distance between the two people after he is successful.
  • If you have increased the distance and he cant perform the exercise correctly, then you increased it to much. Shorten the distance and try again.
  • Any training exercise he is successful at ALWAYS quit while he still wants to play the game.
As with any training keep it fun for both you and your dog. Make sure that you are in a good mood when training your dog. If you are in a bad mood you may think you can fool your dog, but they read our body language better than we do. Keep training sessions short, fun and productive. Several short sessions a day are better than one long session.

I hope these suggestions will benefit you. And welcome to life with a Jack Russell Terrier your life will be enriched with your new addition! Milo is sure a cutie, and thank you for rescuing rather than buying. Remember to spay or neuter Milo for his/her own health benefits as well as helping to cut down on the number of unwanted pets in the United States.

Warmly, Robbin Robbin's Rescued Russells"

Thanks very much for your contribution, Robbin. If there's anyone in California thinking about adopting a JRT, please check out Robbin's website at

Building The Jack Russell Lover Community

Now, what happened there is exactly what I have been hoping for with building an online Jack Russell community. Now it's not just my knowledge that's available through the website. You can now ask questions that can be answered by any other visitor to Jack Russell Lover. Plus, once you learn more about JRTs, you can help out other owners by answering their questions.

Everyone wins! And everyone's Jack Russells will be happier and better behaved because of it.

So if you have a burning question about JRTs, don't be shy. Hop on the new Jack Russell Forum and ask.

Likewise, if you have photos of your pet that you would like to show off to other members of the community, get on the Jack Russell Visitor photos page.

Coming Soon...Jackbook!

Yes, it's on its way. Think Facebook with a Jack Russell twist. The next step in the community-building project will be a page where you can create a complete profile for you and your dog (or dogs). Keep an eye out!

Jack Russell Training Guide

As you may know by now, my full-length training ebook launched a few days ago. I'm not going to talk about it too much here - I think the content of the book speaks for itself. There's more information here: The Jack Russell Lover's Ultimate Guide To Training.

Preview Of Upcoming Content

Well, now that the book is finished, I hope to get my nose back to the grindstone over the next couple of weeks and produce some new articles. You can expect to see more articles relating to nutrition and health, as well as a few more handy training tips.


Question: "Dogs!!! Jack Russell terriers!!! Help!!!?

OK well I have a 6 yr. old JRT....and I need help!!! I would like him to stop digging (I know they are bred to dig) and barking, and just to listen to me, that would be really helpful...why I ask this is because, he is trashing my backyard, I put up a dog run, but he still finds a way to dig...

So basically I was wondering if there are any tips to get him to stop digging, barking, and have him focus on me...???"

My Answer:
Hi there,

Unfortunately you're up against virtually every natural instinct that was deliberately bred into Jack Russells in this instance.

The first thing you need to do is make sure your dog has plenty of entertainment in his environment. Providing plenty of chew toys and lots of exercise will greatly reduce these problems, because they are usually made worse by boredom. The less bored your JRT is, generally, the less he will dig and bark.

I'd suggest giving him his own little digging patch, and training him to use it in exactly the same way you housebreak a puppy - whenever you catch him digging, take him to his patch and let him dig there. You can even attach a verbal command to this. Alternatively, you can just use a firm "No" every time you catch him digging, and distract his attention away with noises and quick movements. This is less likely to work with a stubborn JRT though.

As for barking, again, preventing him from getting bored will help to avoid this. It can sometimes be a way of releasing pent up energy or expressing frustration.

You can also teach the "Quiet" command. To do this, set up a situation where your dog is likely to bark - such as someone knocking on the door - and then after he starts barking, get his attention with a treat. Feed him the treat and the barking will stop - then praise him and attach the verbal "Quiet" command. This will take repeated practice and discipline, but in a few weeks you will start to see improvements.

Hope this helps, :) Tom

Til Next Time...

Well, that's it for this issue! Don't forget - now is the time to become an active part of the Jack Russell Lover community.

Let's celebrate our JRTs and grow together!

Any comments on this issue, or ideas for upcoming issues of the E-Zine? Don't hesitate to contact me. Simply reply to this email. Your question may even be featured in an upcoming issue of the newsletter!

Know of a friend who might be interested in this newsletter? Go ahead and forward it to them and encourage them to sign up. Let's grow this community together.

Thanks for reading and best wishes,

Tom McSherry

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