Some highly useful Jack Russell Terrier training tips can be found on this page. The nature of Jack Russell Terriers means they need particular training that's specific to their breed. These techniques will help to take some of the headaches out of training Jack Russells for some of you who may have tried standard dog training procedures without success, or those who just don't know where to begin.
The foundation of Jack Russell Terrier training comes from an understanding of the JRT as a working dog. Training should appeal to the natural qualities of Jack Russells: a strong desire to hunt, go underground, and expend energy. Don't try to train your Jack Russell as if it were a toy dog. Have respect for its natural instincts - the instincts it was selectively bred for in the first place - but be prepared to train out these isntincts where they are not appropriate for family life.
When you're training an adult Jack Russell, there's a possibility you are up against some bad habits that have already been formed. This can be a problem with Jack Russell rescue dogs in particular. If you have adopted an adult dog, some of these tips should be useful.
Jack Russell Terrier Training Tips
Many owners find that they can't train their Jack Russells properly because they simply can't get their dog's attention. They try to set up formal training situations, only to have their dog go ballistic and run away chasing birds every ten seconds. This is obviously not ideal, and there are a few things you can do to combat it. There are more tips for maintaining attention with stubborn Jack Russells in my ebook on training.
Timing - Concentration and Energy Levels
First of all, you need to train your dog when it is experiencing just the right level of hunger to motivate it. If it has just had a meal, it probably won't be interested if you are trying to entice it with treats. If it is too hungry, it won't be able to concentrate on the training session. (Note: If your dog is more motivated by play than food, then boredom, rather than hunger, is the key element.)
Try training 1 to 2 hours after a meal, and then experiment. If the dog seems bored and uninterested by treats, it needs to be hungrier, so push the training back further after a meal. If it seems to have no concentration span, you may need to train it closer to meal time so its concentration is at an optimum level.
Similarly, make sure your dog doesn't have too much pent up energy when you try to train. Take it for a walk before training to wear it out a bit. Also, make sure the dog isn't too tired - although I don't think I've ever actually seen a tired Jack Russell Terrier.
Jack Russell Terrier Training - Bonding
It's essential that you form a bond with your dog, especially if it's a rescue dog. This means lots of affection, cuddles, and games together, as well as taking your dog with you to new places, such as the park and beach. It also means talking to the dog regularly in a friendly tone of voice. A good bond is the basis for teaching your dog to follow your commands.
One of the first steps in training a Jack Russell is to teach it basic dog commands. As a bare minimum your dog should be able to Come and Sit when you call it.
Training Your Dog To Ignore Distractions
Jack Russells can be terrible when it comes to paying attention. Your JRT may be fine when you're training it at home, but it doesn't respond to commands when you're out at the park or the beach. This is a big problem, because being well-trained in public is where it really counts.
There is a technique to teach your Jack Russell to ignore distractions. Do it at home first. When your dog is playing with someone else in the house, call it to come to you. The person who is playing with it should stop and withdraw attention. When you have the dog's attention, call it to you again. When the dog can respond to this exercise and come away from the distraction consistently, try it out at the park and other public places.
Stop Your Dog Jumping Up At Strangers
The best method to stop your dog from jumping up when you meet strangers on walks is to prevent the habit from forming in the first place. The following techniques can be used both to stop the habit forming and to help train it out. There are two things you can do to deal with this.
Either a) sink down to the dog's level and distract it when you see it getting excited about a stranger, or b) hold onto its collar firmly and keep it glued to the ground. Don't let people your dog unless it is standing on all fours. If your dog knows Sit, use this command when meeting strangers.
In my ebook, I explain how to prevent and cure a whole bunch of other behavior problems in Jack Russells.
Over-Excited Jack Russells
Jack Russells by nature are very excited a lot of the time, but excessive levels of excitement are due to a lack of exercise in 99% of cases. If you think your Jack Russell is "abnormally" excited, chances are it simply isn't getting enough exercise (and it's not abnormal at all). Add in an extra daily walk, make walks longer or play more games. Since you are going to get tired before your Jack Russell does, it's good to let your dog do plenty of running off lead to tire itself out. This should ideally be done at home if you have space, or in a safe park away from traffic.
Dealing With Attention Seeking Jack Russells
Remember that Jack Russells love attention, regardless of whether it's good or bad. This is the explanation for a lot of destructive and attention-seeking behavior. A lot of dog training theory recommends ignoring attention-seeking behavior - however, when it comes to Jack Russell Terrier training, simply using the ignoring technique on its own can end up leading to an escalation of the problem.
The best way to address this is to make sure your give your dog lots of attention when it ISN'T seeking it. This will let it know that it doesn't have to resort to destructive behaviors just to catch your eye - it can feel assured that it will get plenty of games, cuddles and tummy rubs without having to do anything for it.
On the flipside, don't dish out games, cuddles and tummy rubs in response to attention seeking. Just ignore it. Make sure everyone you live with and all your friends know to ignore it. Be warned - it may get worse before it gets better, but a dog won't continue a behavior that doesn't provide a pay-off. This is assuming that the pay-off the dog is seeking is your attention - sometimes it isn't. If the problem persists, consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.
As with all problem behaviors, structured teaching of basic commands and rewarding good behavior consistently should lead to a natural decline in attention-seeking behavior.
Want to avoid the major mistakes of Jack Russell Terrier Training that most owners make and save yourself a lot of time and effort? Get hold of my ebook, The Jack Russell Lover's Ultimate Guide to Training. It teaches you everything you need to know about obedience training and curing problem behaviors in your dog.