Jack Russell Terrier Club of America - JRTCA Preserve, Protect and Work the Jack Russell Terrier

House Breaking a Jack Russell Terrier

Housebreaking in theory is very simple. It is finding a means of preventing the puppy from doing his duties in the house and giving him only an opportunity to do it outside. A dog is a strong creature of habit and because he learns by association, he will soon know there is no other place to relieve himself but the great outdoors.

  • Determine if it is physical or a mental problem. To check if physical problem, see your vet (especially if your previously well-behaved dog has begun housesoiling)
  • Give your Jack Russell plenty of exercise. Exercise is not a luxury to a JR, it's a MUST.
  • Examine the type and quality of the food you are feeding your terrier. Is it a good quality food? It may have too much soy or corn.
  • Are you allowing free choice feeding (i.e., is there always food out?). This is usually not a good practice. Feed puppies three times a day and adults twice a day. After 10 to 15 minutes, withdraw the food.
  • Do not give the puppy any food after 6 P.M. It takes a dog about 6 hours to digest his food and have an elimination as a result of that meal. Any food after 6:00 PM may give him an unexpected urge after he is put to bed.
  • Always get your dog outside after feeding! Crate
  • Are you using a crate to help to train the puppy? Take advantage of a very natural instinct of the dog -- his desire to keep his sleeping quarters clean - ie: not to mess his bed.
  • Always have fresh clean water available during the day. If your dog is inclined to night soil or urinate in the house, use a crate for the night. Do not overcrate or use the crate for punishment. Make it comfortable for the dog.
  • Get your dog outside to relieve itself on a regular basis. Don't forget how important it is to praise a Jack Russell. They are very praise oriented.
  • Are you giving the dog the complete run of the house? It might be better to restrict the area of the house free to the dog.
  • It helps to train a JR to soil and urinate in the same small area. Have a specific area that the dog is taken to relieve itself. They will catch on more quickly.
  • The first thing in the morning pick the puppy up and take him outside to relieve himself.
  • In spite of a rigid routine, your pup may have an occasional accident during his periods of freedom. Here is where correction is necessary. If you catch him in the act, with a loud "NO" put him outside at once. Remember, a dog learns by association and in connection with any act of wrong doing, he must receive some form of discomfort in order to learn that he has done wrong. However, you must catch him in the act - it does absolutely no good to punish him for a mistake he has made an hour or even five minutes earlier.

Remedial Housetraining

If your dog's housesoiling stems from incomplete housetraining, you might try a refresher course:

  • Keep you dog confined in a comfortable crate when you can't supervise it.
  • Escort the dog to the same outdoor location every 3 hours (familiar smells stimulate elimination) and soon after it eats naps or plays. Give the dog a few minutes to take care of its business. Use verbal encouragement.
  • When your dog "does its stuff", lavish it with praise immediately then bring it inside and give it a small food treat.
  • If your dog doesn't "go" outside during the allotted time, bring it indoors for 15 minutes and then return to the appointed spot and try again.

Special Notes

  • When an intact male lifts his leg on the sofa, remember that urine marking is a hormonally driven urge rather than brazen disobedience.
  • Many young females outgrow submissive urination.
  • Well-trained dogs suffering from separation anxiety may become so upset when left alone that they may defecate or urinate all over the house.