Many inexperienced and even experienced dog trainers have given up on Jack Russell puppy training because of the breed’s innate hyperactivity, stubbornness and aggressiveness. These traits are to be expected in Jack Russell puppies precisely because these terriers were bred as working dogs and, thus, must possess these characteristics. Keep in mind that it is hyperactive, stubborn and aggressive behaviour of the Jack Russells that greatly assisted their masters in flushing out the “prey” in fox hunts.
Still, it is very important to train a Jack Russell puppy as soon as it arrives in the home. But take note that Jack Russells must never be taken home from the breeder or the pet shop before reaching 8 weeks of age especially when you have small children in the house. The aggressive behaviours of biting, barking and growling may still be strong particularly when the puppies are suffering from separation anxiety from their parents.
Be the Alpha Dog
First and foremost, Jack Russell puppy training demands that the alpha dog of the pack is identified, established and accepted. Of course, the alpha dog in the man-dog relationship must be the human lest the dog runs roughshod over everybody else. In fact, a strict hierarchy of this master-subject relationship, in a manner of speaking, must be established early on and then must also be applied every time.
To establish said human dominance, it helps to remember the following tips:
- Never bring the puppy into your eye level and make contact with it. Take note that being on the same physical level reinforces the impression that the dog is equal, maybe even dominant, than the human.
- Avoid grabbing the puppy by its body particularly when it is misbehaving. Instead, pick it up by the scruff of its neck, which is similar to how its mother would pick it up.
When you have established dominance during the first phase of the Jack Russell puppy training, the rest of the steps become easier to follow.
Before the puppy arrives at the home, its bed must be ready for occupancy. You can choose to either place it inside a dog bed or outside in an outdoor kennel. Either way, the purpose is to establish its own space, not intrude on human space such as the bedroom.
If possible, child guard rails must be installed to prevent the puppy from climbing up the stairs or jumping up on furniture. Or you can always use the crate to create a snug space where the Jack Russell puppy can feel secure and protected.
Now, if you decide that as part of the Jack Russell puppy training the dog will sleep outside in a kennel, it makes sense to make the bed comfortable. During the first few nights, barking and howling will emanate from the kennel but you must ignore it for the most part. This is because providing the puppy with attention will make it associate bad behaviour with a reward – your attention, that is.
Then the toilet training part comes next. There are many ways to achieve the purpose but we must emphasize that teaching a Jack Russell puppy the proper toilet manners can be harder than previously thought. Take note that its first instinct is to relieve itself whenever and wherever, which means that patience, understanding and love are often required.
Knowing when a puppy needs to relieve itself becomes easier when you remember these tips:
- Know the timing. Most puppies will want to go approximately 30 minutes after play and exercise time.
- Know the behaviour. Puppies will demonstrate behaviour like sniffing and circling the ground, which gives away its intention to heed nature’s call. Indeed, in Jack Russell puppy training, it is important to observe the dog for its habits, behaviours and temperament.
- Give praise. Puppies associate good behaviour with rewards. Because dogs are pack animals, your puppy will want to please by adopting the habits that it is being praised for in a consistent basis.
- Reprimand at the right time. If your puppy relieves himself during the night on the carpet, it is useless to reprimand him in the morning. Say “No” when the puppy is about to or is caught doing the act or has just finished the act of moving his bladder or bowels.
And of course, there is also the matter of Jack Russell puppy training in terms of obedience. Usually, this comes after the puppy has settled in and, thus, will be discussed in another article.