How Do You Discipline a Jack Russell?

By John Martin - May 4, 2022

Jack Russell getting disciplined after knocking over plant

Jack Russell Terrier is a cute, charming, and affectionate dog breed. Originally bred as hunting dogs, Jack Russells could be quite a handful if they aren’t properly disciplined and trained.

Let’s have a look at how you can discipline a Jack Russell and how you should deal with undesirable behaviors exhibited by them.

About the Breed

Developed in England in the 19th century by Rev. John Russell, Jack Russell Terriers were meant to hunt down foxes and vermins. With an average height of 12 to 14 inches, Jack Russell Terriers weigh around 13 to 17 pounds.

They are friendly, robust, and have high energy levels. If you are looking for a show-dog that could hang out on your lap all day and all night, Jack Russell shouldn’t be your choice.

Though they look like a cute plush toy, Jack Russell Terriers are hyperactive and if you don’t give them enough activities to indulge in, it could be difficult to tame them. So if you are an apartment dweller and don’t have much time in your hands to take your Jack Russell for a walk or run, you have signed up for trouble.

Why Disciplining Your Jack Russell Is Important

Appearances could be deceiving, and the tiny-sized, charming Jack Russell Terrier could be quite ferocious if not properly disciplined.

Developed to hunt foxes centuries ago, Jack Russells still have that prey drive within them. If you fail to discipline and socialize them, their endless supply of energy might be a problem for those around them.

Jack Russells are extremely intelligent and driven and could easily understand and obey your commands at the drop of a hat. But the initial disciplining phase could come off as a bit challenging for you because of their aggressive streak and stubborn behavior.

Well, let’s have a detailed look into how a Jack Russell could be disciplined.

How to Discipline a Jack Russell

You can employ different approaches to start the discipline training, there are no universal methods that you must follow. Always keep in mind that you’ll need oodles of patience and lots of kindness to discipline your Jack Russell.

Following these simple steps could help you get started in disciplining your Jack Russell.

Employ Positive Reinforcement Tactics

Positive reinforcement will go a long way in teaching discipline to your Jack Russell. It’s all about rewarding good behavior.

Broken furniture legs and chewed-up shoes could get you angry, but punishing your Jack Russell isn’t the best way to go about it. If you intend to discipline them and warrant good behavior, it is very much possible with the help of positive reinforcement and without inflicting any kind of punishment on them.

Punishments could be confusing to your Jack Russell, especially when it is an untrained puppy. Rewards, rewards, and more rewards are the way to go.

You could reward the good behavior of your Jack Russell with anything that it likes. Most people use food items as rewards, you could get special treats that they are fond of.

Rewards could also be praises or playtime with their favorite toy. Your Jack Russell should be taught to understand and follow praises.

Sometimes a simple “Good Boy!” or “Good Girl!” could reinforce the desired behavior in your dog.

Also Read: How Much Do Jack Russells Cost?

Keep Your Calm

Discipling a Jack Russell could be a daunting task, we agree. But you can’t lose your cool while dealing with a puppy. Remember that your Jack Russell is just a dog! And it’s going to take a lot of patience, energy, love, and forgiveness to get them to behave the way you want them.

Jack Russells are highly intelligent and because of their prey-driven nature, they would always want to please their master no matter what. So after the initial hiccups of disciplining sessions, they are going to turn into very loyal dogs who would be eager to obey your commands.

Exercise Is Essential

Exercise plays a major role in the disciplining process of your Jack Russell. It’s in their innate nature to be highly energetic and active. After all, they were developed to hunt down foxes!

Not providing avenues for physical activities could turn destructive when it comes to a Jack Russell.

Jack Russells would love outdoor activities and you could use the help of interesting games to teach them basic commands like stay, sit, down, or respond to its name when being called.

Your Jack Russell isn’t going to turn into a couch potato and doze off all the time. Schedule your dog’s training sessions to include lots of entertaining physical activities to keep them interested, focused, and active!

Be Consistent

We know that Jack Russells could be quite a handful to deal with, but you shouldn’t give up when it refuses to toe the line in the initial sessions of disciplining. You should be consistent in taking out time to provide sessions on obedience, socialization, and command training to your Jack Russell.

Consistency is key when it comes to disciplining a Jack Russell. For example, if you constantly reward good behavior, your Jack Russell wouldn’t dare to err again, because it will get etched in its mind on what behaviors would be rewarded and what behaviors would be not rewarded.

Show Them Who Is in Charge

You love your Jack Russell very much, we get it. But giving in to all of its demands and not showing your dominant side is going to make your Jack Russell think that she/he is the head of your house.

Your Jack Russell isn’t going to take you seriously if it thinks that it is in charge and all of the disciplining and training sessions will go south in such a scenario.

Assert yourself when the need arises and don’t hesitate to be stern when the situation demands so. Love could be blinding, but it could hamper the training progress of your Jack Russell.

Start Training Sessions Early

Well, the phrase “Catch ‘em young” could apply to training your Jack Russell puppy too.

It would be much easier to discipline an 8-week puppy when compared to a five-month-old Jack Russell.

There is a socialization window for dogs, referring to the time when they are most interested and inquisitive in getting to know their surroundings. So it is always better to train your Jack Russell early to make it into a well-behaved and friendly dog.

Show That They Matter to You

Don’t hesitate to show your loving side more to your Jack Russell. Your love will make it easier for your Jack Russell to undergo the training sessions with ease.

They would be left sad if you show them only your serious face. Assert your authority, but also exude love and warmth towards your Jack Russell, that’s how you get a happy and obedient dog.

Do Not Praise While Correcting Them

Being strict while disciplining could be hard on you, but it’s important to not show your weaker side if you want your dog to pick up lessons fast. Praises are to be used for rewarding your Jack Russell when they show good behavior or learn something new.

But if you praise them right after correcting them could send mixed signals to your Jack Russell. They may fail to understand the difference between desirable and undesirable behaviors.

It’s best to reserve the praises for good behaviors and not to use them out of guilt.

Give Your Jack Russell a Happy and Calm Home

Everyone thrives in a happy home, be it humans or animals, and Jack Russells are no different. It would be best to have a calm environment and not confuse your puppy with too much activity going on around it. Disciplining your Jack Russell would be easier if there is less commotion around it.

How to Deal with Undesirable Behaviors

It takes a lot of practice, patience, time, and energy to inculcate good and desirable habits in your Jack Russell. Sometimes you may be left clueless about how to deal with some of their tantrums.

Let’s have a look at how you could handle such behaviors.

How to Tame Aggressive Behavior

Aggression is a trait that Jack Russell Terriers are infamous for. But with proper training and care, this could be resolved. If a Jack Russell wasn’t socialized as a puppy, it could develop some serious aggression issues while growing up.

Showing aggressive behavior towards anyone including strangers, neighbors, or children could be pretty damaging. If you are unable to handle this by yourself even after multiple attempts at it, it would be best to take your Jack Russell to a vet.

How to Curb Unwanted Barking Habits

While barking comes naturally to dogs, your Jack Russell may sometimes bark unnecessarily. For rectifying this habit, it is important to know the reasons behind it.

Jack Russells would bark when they are anxious or bored.

Boredom comes easily to a Jack Russell if she/he isn’t engaged in physical exercises or is left with nothing to do. Why don’t you get some good quality chew toys and wait for them to show their magic!

When it comes to dealing with an anxious Jack Russell, it’s important to know what triggered their anxiety and act accordingly. For example, if the anxiety is stemming from the fear of being away from you, it’s best to leave your Jack Russell to stay alone for small intervals.

Discouraging Destructive Actions

Destructive actions could result in chewed-up socks, cushion covers, or broken furniture legs. Jack Russells, by nature, are hyperactive and if they are left alone in a room for the whole day, there is no wonder if it has chewed up your shoe.

Destructive actions are also a result of boredom or anxiety or lack of proper training. Chew toys or a playpen could curb this habit in young puppies, whereas older dogs would need good training to put an end to such destructive behaviors.

Always keep in mind that an intelligent and highly energetic breed like a Jack Russell Terrier is going to need plenty of activities to remain calm and mentally stimulated.

Dealing with Hyperactivity

There is only one way to put an end to the hyperactive nature of Jack Russells, and that is to get them to exercise. If you aren’t taking your Jack Russell for walks or runs, don’t be shocked to see them hyperactive and destructive to the point where you can’t handle them anymore.

So don’t forget to take some time off and take your Jack Russell for a walk or a run with you. Also, add plenty of exercises to its training routine, and if you can’t find the time to do it yourself, employ the services of a dog walker to get it done.

But make no compromises in ensuring that they are getting enough exercise.

Discouraging the Tendency to Bite

It would be really difficult for your Jack Russell to give up the hunting streaks that it was born with. It would take a lot of training for them to shake off the biting tendencies.

This could be easily dealt with if they are trained during puppyhood. You could get chew toys and tasty treats for your Jack Russell puppy.

Preventing Your Jack Russell from Running Away

Your Jack Russell may show a tendency to roam around, this could be because they are hunters and wanderers by nature or simply because it is mating season and they are in pursuit of a mate.

Neutering or spaying your Jack Russell could control its urges to run away from home.

And make your Jack Russell do enough activities and exercises to make sure that it won’t run away out of boredom and inactivity.

Also Read: Complete Guide to Jack Russell Colors

Final Thoughts

Disciplining a Jack Russell takes serious patience, love, and forgiveness. But once trained, a Jack Russell would make an excellent guard dog, who is fiercely independent, loyal, obedient, and friendly.

But getting there might take some time and you should have the patience to sail through it. It’s always best to start disciplining your Jack Russell when it is a young puppy, that would make the process a whole lot easier.