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The 5 P's of Jack Russell Training

Updated on November 12, 2009

When you're trying to train a Jack Russell for the first time, it's going to be a challenge. No Jack Russell training ever runs smoothly. But there are five simple things you can do to make the training process a whole lot easier. I call them the 5 P's of Jack Russell training. They apply to training Jack Russell puppies and training adult Jack Russell dogs. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Praise. You should always give your Jack Russell Terrier plenty of love and attention when it does something you want it to do. Your affection is a very effective reward for good behavior. Jack Russells tend to be very fond of their owners, and they will do anything to get your attention. This is why Jack Russells sometimes learn to repeat destructive behaviors - they just want some attention, and they know chewing your shoes will get attention, even if it's not good attention. So make sure you give plenty of good attention when your Jack Russell does the right thing.
  • Practice. Jack Russells need repetition to learn things. You can't expect a dog to learn something after only doing it a few times, or expect your dog to understand commands you've never systematically practiced. Keep practice sessions short, about 5 to 15 minutes each time. This prevents your dog getting bored and distracted. Don't train too often either - three to five formal sessions a day, mixed in with some games, is plenty.
  • Patience. This is something you have to have if you want to train a Jack Russell, especially if you're training an older dog or a rescue dog that already has some bad habits. Jack Russell training is all about working slowly towards little victories - the first successful Stay command, the first Roll Over, and so on. Be patient and don't try to teach your dog everything in a day.
  • Plenty of treats. Don't be afraid to use a bit of bribery to train your dog. Dogs love food, so make sure you keep plenty of treats with you at training time. Some Jack Russells will prefer a particular toy over a food treat, so if that's the case with your dog, use the toy instead of, or in addition to food. Now be careful here - don't overdo it! The idea is that you should have plenty of treats, not necessarily that you should give them all to the dog. Treats are a motivator - if you give too many too easily, they will become common to the dog. They should be kept as special rewards for good behavior. Not to mention, too many treats will make your dog fat and could lead to diabetes and other health problems. So keep plenty of treats around the house, but use them in moderation.
  • Play. This is possibly the most important of the 5 P's. Just like humans, Jack Russells learn by playing. This is especially true with puppies, so with younger dogs you should focus more on games than formal training sessions. Fetch is a great game for this. Keep it interesting for your dog and try out different games to see what he or she likes best. With older dogs or rescue dogs that you are trying to train out of bad habits, it's best to avoid competitive games like tug-of-war or chasing games, as these may make your dog feel like he's always competing with you. With these dogs focus on games of cooperation like Fetch.

If you stick to the 5 P's when you train your Jack Russell, you'll avoid a lot of the hassles and pitfalls. But there's a lot more to it than this. The links below will take you to lots more information on Jack Russell puppies and Jack Russell training.


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    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Great info! Thanks for sharing this. I have friends with a Jack Russell and they find him quite a handful - I will show them this hub.