Parson and Jack Russell Terriers: 3rd Edition: Complete Pet Owner's Manual


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Jack Russells are tough little dogs that can both delight their owners, and present them with serious challenges. They are very energetic and loyal dogs, and they will bestow their attentions on people they like, who are usually people their owners likes. This can involve the JRT climbing up to give your guest a rapid face wash, before the guest has a chance to protest. JRTs can also nip the ankles, or worse, of people they don't like, and it's worth putting a lot of effort into socializing them with people. This should include pretend examinations with someone taking the role as a vet, since vets are often nipped by JRTs. It helps to prime your vet with treats, so he can make friends with your dog, before doing uncomfortable things to him.

Jack Russell Terriers like to be active and entertained, and will get up to mischief unless they have plenty to do. They can be entertained with ball games. These dogs have a very strong prey drive, which means that walking them can be a problem. They can easily become engrossed in hunting, and not want to follow their owners, and have been known to get stuck in rabbit holes. JRTs have a much higher than average chance of being killed in road traffic accidents, so they should only be let off the lead well away from traffic. They are champion escape artists, since they are so active and agile, and can get through small holes in fences. They also like to chase cats, a habit which should not be encouraged, since chasing cats can mean the JRT escapes from your garden or gets lost on walks (and it's unfair to the cats). They are not really safe with any pet rodents you might have. They can learn to respect your cat, if they have grown up with the cat from when they were puppies, They are still likely to see other cats as fair game, even if they happily coexist with a cat at home.

Jack Russell Terriers have a higher than average chance of being euthanased for behavioural problems, because of their strong prey drive and nippiness. These not the best dogs for families with children, since JRTs can still be a little nippy, despite training in bite inhibition, and children damage easily. However, JRTs can be good companions for very sensible, older children with a good understanding of dogs and dog training. Any children in a family with a JRT should be brought into the training programme for their own and the dog's safety. Good training classes will welcome children as handlers and spectators, and one advantage of JRTs is that they are less likely to pull children over than some of the larger breeds. Training should include the 'drop' command, best taught while the JRTs are little pups. Children need to be careful when picking up a ball which a JRT is interested in, since these dogs can nip to try to retain possession of the ball, not with the intention of hurting, but small fingers can get in the way of a JRT's teeth as he tries to grab hold of or adjust his grip on the ball to hang on to it. Many owners like to pick up a ball with the JRT still attached, just for fun, since the dog won't usually let go. This is not good for the dog's health, and makes hanging on a game, whereas the aim should be to teach the dog to let go. Tug games are fine, so long as a 'drop' command is incorporated into the game, and the pup drops the tug as soon as he is asked to. 'Drop' can be taught with treats.

Jack Russell Terriers can make rude noises at other dogs they meet on walks, and are not always safe with small breed puppies, which may be because their prey drive leads them to see small pups as similar to rats or other prey. However, well socialized Jack Russell Terriers can get on with a wide range of dogs, and can form strong bonds with dogs of other breeds, and enjoy playing with them. Keeping two JRTs of the same sex in the same household is not recommended, nor is keeping a Jack Russell Terrier with another terrier breed of the same sex. They often get on well with placid large-breed dogs who don't mind being bossed around by a power-crazed terrier. They don't need a lot of grooming. Barking can be a problem, at passing crows, paper boys, and any other suitable target, though this is less of a problem if the dog has enough exercise. Common health problems include hypothyroidism, von Willebrand's, eye trouble, and skin complaints, including flea allergies.

This book helps you understand your Jack Russell's traits, and helps you deal with typical Jack Russell behaviour, and the challenges it presents, with advice on training. Caroline Coile also manages to convey some of the delights of owning dogs of this feisty breed of hunters. A good introduction to the breed.