Excessive barking. Barking is a completely natural habit for a dog, and Jack Russells tend to be a bit noisier than most breeds. But there are time when barking just isn’t appropriate, so for your own sake and the sake of your neighbours, you need to get this under control.
The first thing you need to do is determine why the dog is barking in the first place. There could be many reasons for this, but the biggest ones for Jack Russells are boredom and anxiety. Boredom can be easily fixed by giving your dog a variety of chews to entertain herself with. Try buying hollow nylon chews which you can fill up with peanut butter – this works a treat.
Anxiety is a little harder to deal with. If there is something in the environment which is intimidating your dog – a neighbor’s dog, for example – block it from view with curtains or fencing. If the anxiety is the result of being separated from you, the proper treatment is to gradually get your dog used to being alone. Leave it for very short periods at first, then come back with a reward. Slowly increase the time the dog is left alone for.
Jumping up. 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 overexcitement. The solution is to make sure the dog gets its fair share of excitement throughout the day through games and exercise, so it doesn’t end up releasing all its pent-up energy on unsuspecting guests. Start going for more walks, play games that exhaust your dog like Fetch, and teach the dog to Sit on command.
Destructive behavior. This habit, like barking, is usually the result of boredom or separation anxiety. If you leave a puppy alone in your bedroom all day, you shouldn’t be surprised when you come home to a pair of chewed-up shoes. For a young dog, keep it in a puppy pen when you have to leave it alone. For older dogs, this is usually a bad habit formed in puppyhood that never got trained out. Starting a formal training regime with a disobedient dog will help to set some boundaries. Also, deal with your dogs boredom – up the games and physical activity, and provide some new treats and toys. Variation of toys and mental stimulation is important for an intelligent breed like the Jack Russell.
Aggression. This can be a real problem with Jack Russells, whether it’s aggression towards certain people, strangers, other dogs, or over food and toys. Often it’s a sign of a lack of socialization and it’s common among some rescue dogs. But a sudden change in behavior towards aggression in a usually friendly dog can also be a sign of injury or illness. If the aggression has come on suddenly, contact your vet. If it is an ongoing problem, try slowly introducing the dog to environments and situations where it may act aggressively, providing treats and rewards to build up a positive association.
Biting. This is particularly a problem in puppies, but can be an issue with older dogs too. To stop play-biting, all you need to do is hold the puppy’s mouth shut for a few seconds, say “No” firmly and then stick a chewy treat or toy in its mouth. This lets it know what it should be chewing on rather than human skin. If you have an adult dog with biting problems, this is a serious matter that will probably require the skills of a professional trainer.
Running away. Jack Russells are born hunters, and they were made to dig – so dig they shall, even if it means digging under your fence. The tendency of dogs to go roaming is generally inspired by natural urges to go and find a mate. The tendency can be reduced a great deal by neutering and spaying. There are many other health benefits to neutering your dog too. On top of that, you should escape-proof your house and back yard, using chicken wire where necessary to block your dog from digging under fences.
Hyperactivity. Jack Russells are pretty hyper by nature, but many are excessively hyper because their owners don’t help them to release their energy. If your dog is excessively hyper it very likely needs more exercise. Add an extra walk to your exercise regime, 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 about the only way your Jack Russell will get tired before you do.