Q: My Jack Russell is out of control! He is aggressive
towards other dogs and people. What can I do?
A: Same-sex aggression and aggression towards other
breeds of dogs is well documented with this breed. It is strongly recommended that no more
than two Jack Russells (of opposite sex only) ever be permitted to stay together
- Most behavioral problems are due to a lack of companionship, discipline, activity and
- For a Jack Russell that is very aggressive with other dogs, a technique is to squirt the
terrier in the face with water whenever he growled at other dogs. No scolding or other
action is required in this instance - just a surprise squirt.
- 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 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.
- 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.
Basically there are three forms of discipline. They are as follows:
First, start off by going to the dog. Do not call the dog to you and then discipline them.
That will make the dog think that every time they come to you they will be disciplined.
Always go to the dog!
- The Chin Slap: Let's make sure that is clear, NO HITTING of any form (that
includes a rolled-up newspaper, or any other object). It will make the dog fear and resent
you causing a lack of trust that will in turn damage the human/dog relationship. The chin
slap is an upward slap just hard enough to close the dogs mouth---NOT flip his/her head
back. For little dogs two or three fingers will do the job and for large dogs an open palm
of the hand will do fine. This is used mostly for mouthing, nipping, biting, excessive
barking and crying. These are not serious behavioral problems but they are still not
acceptable. Remember--do not let the dog control you-- you are the Alpha Male or Female.
- The Shake Up: This is one of the ways a mother will control her litter of
puppies. She would grab the pup (with her mouth) by the scruff of the neck, lift the pup
up a little and shake them back and forth for a couple of seconds while growling. For a
small puppy or adult dog we will do this either by grabbing them by the scruff (the loose
skin on the back of the neck between the head and back) with one hand. The bigger puppy or
dog will be held by the loose skin on either side of the head and neck with both hands.
With your hands in the correct place, lift and shake for a couple of seconds. The amount
and hardness of shaking is determined by what the dog did to warrant the discipline. The
worse the offense, the worse the discipline will be. This is used for unacceptable
behaviors such as biting hard, general unruliness, catching the dog in the act of
destroying something, stealing food or personal belongings, jumping up on someone or
something and etc.
- The Alpha Role Over: This is another way a mother or pack leader would discipline
their pack. They would put the dog on their back and hold them there until the dog
submitted. We will do this by grabbing the dog and turning them or flipping them on their
back. Either holding them down by the loose skin on either side of the face and neck or
kneeling over or sitting on top of them if they are a large dog. This puts the dog in
their most submissive position. They will not want to be in this position and will most
likely fight and squirm to get loose. DO NOT let them up. If you do, the dog will have won
the fight and have proved his dominance over you. You must hold them down until they
totally submit to you and no longer fight to get up. This may take a while for a dominant
dog---to put it plainly, if you have to sit on top of the dog for an hour--DO IT. You have
to assert your dominance over the dog to show them you are the boss(alpha). Let us keep in
mind that we do not want to injure the dog. When putting the dog on his/her back be sure
not to hit their head on the floor.
All of the above are to be accompanied by a semi-loud, deep and growling
"NO". Remember we want to simulate what their mother would have done. The better
of an actor/actress we are the better the dog will understand and less discipline will be
needed. If you have to continually discipline the dog over and over then you did not
administer the correction properly. Review the steps above and the next time give a good
correction. A properly executed correction should leave a lasting impression on the dog.
If you keep up with this it will get to the point where the dog has learned the meaning of
the word "NO" and that will be good enough to stop unwanted behavior. Remember,
consistency and repetition are the keys to raising a happy, controlled dog.
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