The biggest mistake you could make as a new Jack Russell Terrier owner is not knowing their general traits. Knowing what you’re in for is an important step in being a responsible owner. All dogs have special needs, and Jack Russells are no exception. Here are 5 things you should know before getting a Jack Russell.
- Jack Russells are hunting dogs.
They were originally bred as a fox hunting dog. Always remember that as this characteristic will be prevalent no matter how long you domesticate them. For this reason, expect them to be fast and have a high prey drive. This can be stressful if you don’t know how to manage them. The good thing is that they can be trained to at least just watch the birds or other small animals from a distance. This brings us to number 2.
- They are very intelligent.
Other dogs take months or a year to master potty training. My Jack Russell, Sushi only took a month to understand that pee pads aren’t for chewing and less than a year to perfectly understand that she can go both on the pads and outside. Because of that, I allowed her to sleep on the bed with us after she turned 2. She’s now 3 and has never had accidents in the bedroom. When I tried teaching her the basic commands and tricks at 3 months, boy was I amazed how quickly she picked up things. This amazing characteristic comes with a downside, though. For being too smart, Sushi sometimes try to outsmart me. She can easily sense when a negotiation is taking place. If you aren’t consistent enough, they might not listen to your commands at all.
- Jack Russell Terriers are highly energetic.
They are natural athletes. You need to give them lots of physical and mental exercises to avoid stress and destructive behavior such as unwanted chewing, barking, and so on. You can’t calm down a JRT if you don’t give them what they need. Play with balls and other kinds of toys with them several times a day especially when they’re still a puppy. Take long walks (more than an hour) at least twice a day with them instead of several quick walks. They love to run so letting them run freely for at least 30 minutes a day will make them happy. You’ll also be happy as they won’t bug you all day long. They’ll settle themselves down if they get enough exercise.
- They are barkers.
Some people think that barking is generally a bad thing. Living with Sushi for over 2 years now, I’ve realized that this isn’t the case with Jack Russells. Sushi barks when she’s too happy, too excited, anxious, frustrated and of course when she wants to alarm us which makes her a good watch dog. They’re small but they’re pretty loud. You have to understand that barking is a dog’s way of communication. So punishing them for doing so is absolutely inhumane. However, you can teach them to somehow minimize the barking in a humane way. They learn better without using any force. This will also make them trust you quickly.
- They shed too much.
Typically, JRTs with short coat shed much more than the long haired ones. Sushi is short haired so just imagine the utter volume of white hairs invading our clothes, blankets, or let me just say our whole house. It’s annoying but you can minimize the shedding by brushing them everyday. You can use a lint roller to remove some of those rogue hairs from your clothes, carpets, and furniture. I vacuum the house almost everyday due to this.
These are just the basics. I can go on and on but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Having a dog does change you and your lifestyle. I just want to highlight that Jack Russells are not for the lazy ones. If you want to be cooped up all the time, do yourself a favor, don’t get a Jack Russell Terrier. But if you’re up for adventures in every aspect of your life, a Jack Russell Terrier is the best companion you could ever have.
Here’s a video of us practicing a few obedience commands.
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