Dkrainwater’s Weblog

Reinforcing Behavior With Your Jack Russell

Posted on: October 28, 2008

Jacks are highly intelligent and not likely to give themselves up for abuse. Jack’s often know when they’ve done wrong and will expect scolding, even exhibiting submission behavior before you know what they’ve done. Using physical punishment will mean that you can kiss any sense of remorse in your Jack Russell goodbye. They’ll be gone before you can get anywhere near them. They’re fast too. They were bred to chase fox, which is a very swift animal. Stop chasing them; you’re not going to catch them. The best way to train a Jack is to vocally scold them for bad behavior, and possibly include a short time out in a restricted area. Many people advise against using the crate as a time-out zone because it may make the dog unwilling to go into the crate, which you want him to feel safe and comfortable in, not punished.

The best results come from reinforcing good behavior with a combination of treats and clicker training. Jack Russell’s do have a good memory and will remember what they like and don’t like. You usually can’t fool them with the same trick more than twice, and it doesn’t take long for them to figure out how to get what they want and avoid what they don’t. One famous story tells of a man whose Jack Russell would wake up promptly at 1:30 am and begin to bark incessantly for no apparent reason. The man finally came up with a plan. He devised a system of ropes and pulleys tied to a bucket placed over the dog’s kennel that filled from a garden hose. The end of the rope was tied to the man’s nightstand next to his bed. That night when the dog began barking, the man pulled the rope, causing the bucket to tip and douse the dog with water. The man did this every time the dog would begin barking unnecessarily. After two nights of this the dog quit barking in the middle of the night and never did it again. While this story may have been embellished over time, and seem a little extreme for most owners, it does illustrate the characteristics of the Jack Russell to “learn from its mistakes”.

Kellie Rainwater loves her Jack Russell Terrier, Trixie, so much that she co-authored the book, “The Jack Russell Terrier: Canine Companion or Demon Dog.” You can find this book and other Jack Russell toys, jewelry, and merchandise that is branded with the face of this tenacious canine at

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