Aggression in Jack Russell Terriers
Many experienced, as well as inexperienced, dog owners are overwhelmed by the demands of a Jack Russell Terrier, leading to the dogs being abandoned even before they reach adulthood. Jack Russells are first and foremost hunting dogs. The traits and skills that make them excellent hunting dogs (i.e., digging, barking, aggressive nature, ability to follow scent) are often interpreted as bad habits that cause people to give them up.
Jack Russell Terriers require a long-term commitment to obedience, activity, exercise and entertainment... their unique character, intelligence and high energy level can frustrate you, will undoubtedly entertain you, and can bring you great joy (when they're happy!) or great grief (when they're not!).
Same-sex aggression and aggression towards other breeds of dogs is well documented with this terrier. It is strongly recommended that no more than two Jack Russells (of opposite sex only) ever be permitted to stay together unattended. Jack Russells can become very possessive of their owner or a favorite member of the family or of what they consider to be their personal property if allowed to do so to the point of showing aggressive protective behavior that must be controlled from an early age.
- Most behavioral problems are due to a lack of companionship, discipline, activity and exercise.
- A Jack Russell Terrier that bites can be a big problem. You must stop this behavior before it becomes dangerous.
- Don't allow your Jack Russell to win any games of aggression. The outcome could certainly send the wrong message to him.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise! A tired dog seldom want to pick a fight.
- Never put your hands between two fighting terriers
- Jack Russells require firm, consistent discipline. They are extremely intelligent, continue to test their limits throughout their life.
- Jack Russells can be very destructive if left unattended and unemployed! Most behavioral problems are due to a lack of companionship, discipline, activity and exercise. If you've only seen perfect, well-behaved JR's, they are ones that were lucky enough to be exercised, well socialized, and trained.
- For serious canine aggression and/or canine behavior that causes you to fear that you or someone else is in danger, contact a qualified animal behaviorist
- AVMA's American College of Veterinary Behaviorist (800-248-AVMA)
- The Animal Behavior Society (912-752-2973)
- The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior
Additional Help for Aggression and Anxiety in Jack Russell Terriers
Nipping and Biting
Nipping and biting is how a puppy explores its world and learns its boundaries. When you allow a puppy to nip or bite at you, or your clothes, without an appropriate correction or consequences, you are actually teaching this youngster that it is acceptable behavior. Not a good idea in the long run!
Time outs are great, they really teach the puppy that if they can't play nicely, they can't play at all! When I have puppies that bite I have found two types of corrections that work well for me. I don't recommend hitting a puppy or holding a puppy's mouth closed for biting, rather, putting your hand OVER their muzzle and just pushing her lips into the teeth, if they exert pressure downward, they only end up biting themselves.
This does two things: it gives them a correction, and simulates another dog putting its mouth over their muzzle. This mimics a common sign of dominance among canines, allowing you to reemphasize your dominance over them! I also will use a little pinch on the lip as a correction. With both corrections, I give a verbal correction "No bite" and when they stop, I praise them. With perseverance and patience, you will eventually be able to give only a verbal correction and have them stop. With puppies, it is often a good idea to quickly distract them with an appropriate chew toy so they don't go right back to "finger attack" mode!
If the corrections don't seem to work, then give time out, because they are either too wound up or too tired and need a nap! It might seem endless, but keep up the corrections you need to win this battle! Be persistent and they'll soon learn that nipping isn't such a fun game after all!