10 Common Jack Russell Behavior Issues (How To Stop It)

Jack Russell Behavior Issues  by Mikail Khan  |Published 06-19-2022

There are many reasons why people may choose to own a Jack Russell Terrier.

They are known for being loving, loyal, and intelligent dogs that make great family pets.

However, they are also known for being high-energy dogs that can be pretty challenging to live with if they are not properly trained and socialized.

Here are 10 common Jack Russell behavior issues and how to stop them.

A woman is training a Jack Russell terrier using food treats.

Jack Russell Behavior Issues

#1: Aggression

One of the most common Jack Russell behavior issues is aggression.

Jack Russell can be aggressive towards other dogs and animals. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you socialize your Jack Russell as a puppy so they learn to become accustomed to other animals.

If your Jack Russell is already showing signs of aggression, there are several things you can do to help stop it.

First, never encourage aggression by playing rough housing games with your dog. This will only teach them that it is okay to be aggressive.

Second, provide plenty of positive reinforcement when your Jack Russell behaves well around other animals. This will help them to associate good behavior with rewards.

Third, if your Jack Russell does become aggressive, maintain a calm and assertive energy. Do not punish them, as this will only make the problem worse. Instead, redirect their attention to something else, such as a toy or treat.

It is best to consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for serious aggression cases.

#2: Hyperactive

A young Jack Russell is running through a field.

Jack Russells are a very high-energy breed, and many owners find their dogs quite hyperactive.

Hyperactive dogs are very impulsive and are unable to pay attention. As a result, they can be destructive and are often the cause of accidents in the home.

For example, a hyperactive dog may jump on furniture and break it.

If you have a hyperactive Jack Russell, there are several things you can do to help stop the behavior.

Provide plenty of exercise for your dog. A minimum of two hours per day is recommended. This will drain his energy in a positive way and make him tired. And a tired dog is calm!

In addition, provide plenty of mental stimulation for your Jack Russell. This can be in the form of puzzle toys or training games.

Always keep a close eye on them, and provide corrections as needed. For example, if they start to jump on furniture, say “no” in a firm voice and redirect their attention to something else.

#3: Nipping and Biting

Nipping and biting are common in puppies as they explore the world with their mouths.

However, some puppies never seem to outgrow this phase. And a Jack Russell that bites can be a real problem.

It's best to train your Jack Russell not to nip and bite from a young age.

Don't allow your puppy to nip or bite at your hands or even your clothing.

One way to stop this behavior is through time-outs. Time-out means taking your puppy away from the situation he is nipping or biting in and putting him in an isolated area for a short time.

You can also use a little pinch on his lip and firmly say "No bite" as a correction. And when he does stop biting, immediately give him a treat.

#4: High Prey Drive

Jack Russell dog is running away from the camera.

Jack Russells were bred to hunt small animals, and they have a very high prey drive.

This means they will instinctively chase and try to catch any small animal they see, including squirrels, birds, rabbits, and even cats.

You will need to socialize your Jack Russell from a young age to stop this behavior. And you can do that by slowly introducing other animals to the dog, a little at a time.

Gradually increase the amount of time your Jack Russell spends around other animals, and ensure that all experiences are positive.

#5: Digging holes

Two dogs are digging in the sand.

Jack Russells are hunter dogs that used to dig holes to capture their prey.

And many Jack Russells still have this instinct and will dig holes in your garden.

Here are a few things you can do to stop your dog from digging.

One is to provide them with plenty of exercises. A tired dog is less likely to dig.

Another is to create an area in your garden where it is okay for them to dig. This could be a sandpit or a small patch of earth that you have designated for them.

Finally, make sure that they have plenty of toys to keep them occupied.

#6: Barking A lot

Like most dogs, Jack Russells are known for their tendency to bark a lot.

This can be pretty annoying, and it can also be a sign that your dog is bored or anxious.

If you think your dog is barking because of boredom, then make sure to provide him with chew toys such as a Kong.

If your dog is barking due to anxiety, it's a bit hard to deal with.

However, if something in the environment makes him anxious, such as the neighbor's dog, you can block it from the view by fencing or putting curtains on windows.

If it's noises that are making him anxious, such as the doorbell. You can tell someone to ring the bell. Then, when the dog starts barking, you firmly command him to "Stop," and you give him a treat when he stops.

Repeat until your dog doesn't bark at the bell.

#7: Running Away

As Jack Russells love to dig, they can dig under your fence too.

And these dogs tend to roam around, inspired by their urges to find a mate.

You can stop your dog from running away by neutering and spaying.

Additionally, you can escape-proof your garden by ensuring that the fence is buried deep enough into the ground and that there are no gaps or holes for your dog to squeeze through.

You should also put a collar on your dog with an ID tag so that if he does run away, you can be contacted.

#8: Excessive Jumping Up

A Jack Russell is jumping and ready to pounce on something

Jack Russells are known for their friendliness and often express this by jumping up on people.

While it may be cute to some people, it can be pretty annoying to others.

And it's not a very good behavior as it can knock over smaller children and elderly people.

You can do a few things to stop your dog from jumping up.

One is to ignore the behavior. For example, when your dog jumps up, turn away from him and don't give him any attention.

Another is to teach him the "Sit" command. And when he jumps up, you can say "Sit," and when he sits, you give him a treat.

Do this consistently, and he will eventually learn that jumping up is not the way to get your attention.

#9: Destructive Behavior

Jack Russell Terrier is lying on a grassy field chewing a stick.

Chewing is typical destructive behavior in dogs, and Jack Russells are no exception.

This behavior is often caused by boredom or anxiety, so the best way to deal with it is to provide your dog with chew toys.

And give him plenty of exercises, so he's tired enough and not so destructive.

If your dog is chewing on something that he's not supposed to, such as your shoes. You can say "No" firmly and give him a chew toy.

If he chews on the toy, you praise him and give him a treat.

Do this consistently, and he will eventually learn that chewing on the wrong things is unacceptable.

#10: Separation Anxiety 

A young Jack Russell Terrier standing in a grassy field waiting to play fetch.

Jack Russells are often very attached to their owners and can suffer separation anxiety when left alone.

This can lead to destructive behavior, as well as barking and howling.

You might have a job that requires you to leave your dog home alone for long periods of time.

In this case, it's essential to gradually get him used to being alone.

Solutions to Jack Russell Separation Anxiety

Here's what you can do:

  • First, confine your dog in a small area such as a crate or a puppy-proofed room.
  • Quietly starts doing things you would do when you're getting ready to leave, such as putting on your shoes and coat.
  • Then leave the house for a short period of time, such as 10 minutes. Then, come back and praise your dog for being good.
  • Repeat this process, gradually increasing the amount of time you're gone.

If your dog is still anxious, you might want to consult a behaviorist or trainer for help.

Separation anxiety is a serious problem, but with patience and consistency, it can be overcome.

Jack Russell Behavior Issues:  The Bottom Line

Jack Russells are active, energetic dogs that need a lot of exercises. They can be willful and stubborn, but they're also intelligent and eager to please. With the right training and socialization, they can be good family dogs.

Jack Russell Behavior Issues
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Author Bio

Mikail Khan is the founder and editor at BestDogResources.com. Since when he got his first puppy, Mikail has been a lover of dogs. He aims to provide simple and easy informational advice to dog owners.

About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, beagles, English bulldogs, carin terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

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