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How to Train a Jack Russell Terrier: 7 Expert Tips & Tricks

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

jack russell terrier dog on green grass outdoor with owner

Jack Russell Terriers can be such rewarding dogs to own due to their friendly nature and unmatched loyalty. However, they can also be challenging—headstrong, hyperactive, and difficult to train. So, if you’re at the stage where it’s time to start laying down the law, have patience!

Training a Jack Russell will vary in difficulty based on your experience level and your dog’s temperament.

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The 7 Tips & Tricks for Training a Jack Russell Terrier

1. Understand the Breed

When training any dog, it is in your best interest to learn all you can about the breed itself. Certain breeds will be easier to tame than others. Jack Russells, specifically, can be difficult to train because they are stubborn, headstrong, and hyperactive.

On the flip side, Jack Russells are also incredible dogs with lots of love to give. While they will eventually get the hang of concepts, like potty training, they might jump a lot, bark a lot, or have other excessive behaviors that would be much better if corrected.

Jack Russells tend to be highly food and toy-motivated. So, remember to keep treats and entertainment on hand during training. Make sure you understand the activity levels of the breed, too, so you can be prepared to refocus their attention.

jack russell terrier dog with a basketball ball on a green lawn
Image Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock

2. Develop a Bond

Dogs are much more likely to listen to us when they feel comfortable with our being in command. This role typically happens after we form loving bonds with them. At least, it is important to develop that love between the two of you so that discipline can follow.

Before a dog bonds with you, it needs to trust you. You have to have demonstrated your leadership skills, and they have to feel like they can count on you to take charge. So, interact with them positively long before it’s time to learn.

If you want strictly an authoritarian figure, they might be likely to rise up against you like the anarchists they are and disobey you when you prefer that they listen.

3. Pick a Training Method

After you’ve done your research, pick the training method that you think will work best for you and your Jack Russell. This can include things such as clicker training, online YouTube videos to teach you how to teach your dog, and even some tips and tricks from virtual trainers online. Or you can consult a professional trainer who has extensive experience in the area.

If your dog will be more challenging for you to train, you can skip working through it at home and enroll directly into an obedience program through PetSmart or another agency.

Keep in mind that your dog might take some time to learn potty training, as this can be a problematic area for Jack Russells specifically. It is important to have the correct tools and resources so you can get a mannerly dog in no time!

jack russel terrier playing training with owner
Image Credit: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock

4. Stick to Your Guns

You’ll want to give in to those puppy eyes, let’s face it. It’s easy to slack off or to miss the proper steps because you don’t feel like dealing with extra hassle at the time. Don’t let this happen to you.

Consistency is important. If your dog learns how to navigate around training, they likely will! So, once you make the rules routine—don’t veer away from that.

5. Prepare for Regression

When it comes to training certain small dogs, you can get pretty far, and then your dog might start to regress. Just know that this is not necessarily normal, but it’s definitely possible. If it happens, you can acknowledge the signs and react accordingly.

The only thing you can do on your part is keep up with consistency and be prepared for any setbacks. For example, you might’ve noticed that your Jack Russell hasn’t had an accident in the house in 3 weeks, and then you wind up with three consecutive accidents in a single day—it’s time to go back to the basics.

It can feel like all your efforts aren’t paying off, but we promise they will get the hang of it soon!

smiling woman with her cute jack russell terrier dog
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

6. Practice Patience and Routine

Training a puppy can be very challenging. You might feel discouraged and even aggravated at your dog. The best thing you can do is to try to show as little of that as possible. Having a firm hand is one thing, but these dogs listen best to direct commands and consistency.

So make sure that you’re keeping up a proper routine and keeping your patience so you don’t damage the relationship or bond you have dealt with your pup so far.

7. Consider a Professional Trainer

There’s nothing wrong with letting a professional help you. In fact, it might help the training process go a lot quicker and smoother. There are tons of resources from professional trainers, but we understand that professional training can be expensive and may not be an option for everyone.

For example, if you can’t afford to spend a couple thousand dollars on a training course that lasts a couple of weeks, you can look for alternative options instead. There are many cheap or even free resources online that people can use to train their dogs, made by professionals.

There are also programs with shorter lengths that can address specific problems, and issues that you might have with your dog, so you can respond to them with the advice of an expert.

Jack Russell Terrier dog training
Image Credit: Wasitt Hemwarapornchai, Shutterstock

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Types of Training for the Jack Russell

The rules that we talked about above apply to general types of training. You can use these tips and tricks in virtually any training setting.

Potty Training

Jack Russells can be pretty difficult to potty train. They have very short attention spans and love to test your patience. They are very strong-willed little dogs and tend to only do what they want.

Training can be a challenge in any regard, but potty training will be the messiest. Also, keep in mind that these are smaller dogs that have tinier bladders. They have a harder time holding their urges so it’s important to recognize the signs that they need to go to the bathroom and take them outside consistently.

Command Training

Your Jack Russell is such a smart cookie; they will pick up commands pretty quickly. Your dog has to be mindful of your requests, so working toward learning commands is key. Basic commands can lead you into more advanced training and give your dog a good foundation.

man walking side by side with a jack russell terrier
Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

Obedience Training

When you are going through obedience training with your Jack Russell, it’s important to use the proper tactics. You are setting the foundation for the master/pet hierarchy. They need to respect your authority without fearing you.

This can be a fine line, especially when dealing with a dog with a challenging personality. So, if you are having issues (particularly with certain behaviors), professional obedience training can be a solution.

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Jack Russells are peppy, cheerful little dogs with larger-than-life personalities. Some can be a breeze to train, while others will test your patience at every turn. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell when you pick up that little potato at 8 weeks just what their personality will be like in a few months.

So, remember—pick your training area, be patient, be consistent, and stay level-headed. Get professional training or tools when you need it. Soon, the puppy stage will be over, and you can take a break and enjoy your pup. Hang in there!

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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