Jack Russell Terriers (JRTs) are very active, intelligent dogs. They are not the perfect choice for everyone because of their considerable need for exercise, training and activity. They can be aggressive with other dogs and other pets and are enthusiastic diggers. They are not suited for families with small children. A common nickname is Jack Russell Terrorists, which should tell you something! That said, the intelligence and loyalty of this little dog is legendary if he is provided ample outlets for his energy and working instincts.
How to Live with a Jack Russell Terrier
Evaluate your lifestyle before considering a Jack Russell Terrier. If you are sedentary or spend a lot of time away from home, this is NOT the breed for you. Jacks can be destructive, noisy and willful if not exercised and worked with daily. Their popularity has risen recently; however, many people are getting rid of their Jack Russell Terriers because they are more dog than they bargained for. Check petfinder.com and breed rescues for older, already trained Jacks in need of a good home. The site listed at the bottom of this article has a lot of information, including links to rescues.2
Consider your other pets. Jack Russell Terriers can be raised with other pets successfully as puppies but bringing an adult Jack into your home with cats or other dogs can be a risky proposition. They are first and foremost hunters and can easily kill a cat. They are also fearless around other dogs and will challenge a dog five times their size without a second thought.3
Train your Jack. These delightful little dogs can be stubborn and require ongoing training. Regular obedience classes are a good start. Also consider involving your Jack in dog sports or activities like agility, earth dog, fly-ball or rally obedience. A daily stroll around the neighborhood doesn't even begin to satisfy their need for exercise. They need lots of both physical and mental stimulation. Check out articles on agility training and clicker training, which are both great outlets for Jack Russell Terriers.4
Bike with your Jack. They are highly intelligent dogs and learn quickly. Training your Jack Russell Terrier to run alongside of you while you're on a bicycle is a good way to let him run. Practice common sense and safety -- don't put your dog or yourself in danger. Since a Jack's hunting instinct is so strong, it is not wise to unleash him. Biking allows the dog to run and spend time with you. Bike at your dog's pace and don't let him get overheated.5
Socialize your Jack Russell Terrier, no matter what age he is when you bring him home. They can be a bit snappy and possessive around strangers if they are pampered and not given plenty of opportunity to interact with different people.6
Teach your dog both manners and tricks. Jacks have the capacity to learn an incredible repertoire of tricks as well as basic obedience. Search this site for tips on teaching him cute tricks and prepare to be amazed at how smart your Jack is. The more things you can teach your dog, the happier he will be. Remember these are working terriers and thrive on using their bodies and minds!7
Beware of unscrupulous breeders. These are generally healthy dogs and will live to an average of 15 years old, but there is no reason to give a back yard breeder or pet store money for a Jack when there are caring breeders who pay attention to structure and temperament. If you decide on a puppy, only buy from someone who shows, and preferably also works, her dogs.