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Jack Russell Terriers are balls of energy. Pocket-sized, but unaware of it, the high octane canine seems to have two modes – 100 miles an hour and sleeping. This carpe diem approach to life can leave owners exhausted and drained.
Luckily, Jack Russells are intelligent so presenting them with the correct challenges can keep them occupied all while draining that boundless energy. As you try to discover what works for your pup, it’s worth bearing in mind that these guys were originally bred to hunt rodents and foxes so methods that work with this hunter instinct will be best.
Top 10 Ways to Keep a Jack Russell Terrier Calm
# 1. Exercise
It can’t be underestimated how important regular walks are for Jack Russells. You can either go with them for a few short walks or one substantial walk with little toilet breaks throughout the day. Walking is an important part of bonding with your dog. It’ll also allow you (and them) to get to know each other’s personality and temperament.
If you do not have time for a long walk, you can get more from a short walk by jogging or taking your bike while holding your pup’s lead. Note that you should only do so if it can be done safely location-wise, and if your dog is comfortable going at some speed.
If you have a young puppy, it’s a good idea to incorporate one ‘big’ day out in your week. For example, go for a hike or head to the beach for a few hours on Saturday or Sunday. Doing this once a week can go a long way toward reducing the overall energy levels during the week.
# 2. Play Fetch
Walking your dog is a great way to defuse energy but it takes time. A game of fetch is a fun and quick way to burn off some energy. Jack Russell’s love to chase (remember that hunter instinct?) and because they’re intelligent, can be trained how to play fetch.
Once they understand the “rules” of the game, this is a great way to challenge your pooch both physically and mentally.
# 3. Train Your Dog
Training is best done after a walk so as to take the edge of energy levels and help your pup to focus. Dogs devote up to 8% of their metabolism toward powering their inquisitive brains. So whether you’re teaching them to ‘give you the paw’ or ‘stay’, getting your furry friend to work out how to get that treat out of your hand is draining. Think about it, each day is filled with walks, eats, belly rubs and sleeps. So if your pup could talk, imagine what they would say (or complain about) when you ask them to sit!
# 4. Playdates
Nothing and no one will drain your dog’s energy like another dog. Join a local Facebook or meet-up group and get to know other dog families in your community. Check out the mobile apps that people are using to connect. Rover is a popular app used by doggy communities.
Talking to other dog owners is a brilliant way to learn new tricks and let off some steam if you are finding things a little tough. There is nothing like talking to someone who knows what you’re going through. Find out what doggy hacks they discovered along the way. Sharing experiences is the best way to learn.
# 5. Puzzle Feeding
Mental stimulation is not only for training or playtime. Do not miss out on the opportunity presented by feeding time. You know at this time of the day your dog’s focus is on filling his tummy, so why not present him with a little challenge? Channel that focus by getting him to work for his food. Puzzle feeding is a nice way to put the Jack Russels hunting instinct to good use.
There are many puzzle feeders available on the market but I like to keep it old school- Grab an old towel and lay it flat on the floor. Sprinkle some kibbles all over it. Next, you can either scrunch it up or roll it, depending on whichever works best for your dog. And let your pooch do the rest.
I usually use this method of feeding on rainy days or occasions where I have to keep my dog occupied inside. I don’t use it every day as I like to feed my dog a half wet/ dry mix.
Using this method will extend feeding times and you should notice a difference in placing a full bowl in-front of your pup.
# 6. Search Games
Personally, I think this should be played with all breeds because it is so much fun for everyone involved. I’m a little excited to talk about this. My favorite search game involves making sure your dog is out of sight and hiding a set number of treats throughout the room (make sure you remember where you hid each treat). When you open the door, give your pup a single treat followed by the search command so they know what’s up. Then sit back and let the games begin!
It’s a good idea when playing this game to stick to a set number of treats each time you play. This way, your dog will come to know when they have found all the treats. If you use 5 treats one time and 15 another, it will be difficult to get your dog to stop searching and could have the adverse effect of making them more hyper.
Another great search game is sticking treats in an old egg box. However, be prepared for the fall out of shredded cardboard everywhere.
# 7. Chew Toys
If you have not looked into this before, your world is about to change. There are a plethora of great chew toys on the market to choose from. They can be expensive so do your research, check out review vlogs online, or speak to other dog owners first. It’s disappointing to spend some bucks on a toy, only to find your pup has zero interest in it. Shop around. A good pet shop is usually run by a responsible owner who cares about pets. They usually give some advice on what should work best for your pup.
There is a little ‘hit and miss’ involved here but when you find something that keeps your pup occupied, you’ll get the idea for what kind of elements they love in a toy. My Jack Russell LOVES ropes toys, while my friend’s Jack Russell won’t even look at them but is CRAZY for tennis balls.
# 8. Calm Environment
Hectic, noisy environments can rub off on a canine. Sometimes, being in a place like that is unavoidable, but you can introduce your dog to hustle and bustle slowly. To do this, you will need to start their journey from a quiet place of calm.
# 9. Calm Pet Owner
When you share your life with a seemingly never-ending ball of energy, it can leave you feeling drained. It is important to take time for you, especially when your Jack Russell is still young. It’s all well and good to say “be patient” when training your pup, but that can be difficult when they’ve been ‘biting’ you all day.
Do not underestimate taking time for yourself. As a ‘pack leader’, you must show your dog that you are calm and in control. It is a loving act of kindness to give a dog a safe home, so don’t feel bad if you need a break. From time to time, ask a friend if they can dog sit for a few hours or a weekend.
Try not to let frustration creep into the bond you have with your dog. Take time, don’t underestimate it, and come back refreshed and happy to see your pooch.
# 10. Music
I know, I know, this one seems a little odd. But in this trial and error experiment that is discovering what works for your furry friend, I can tell you my Jack Russel responds really well to chilled music!
I usually stick on Youtube and try meditation or yoga music, or play an open fireplace video. Within minutes, my dog will be curled up relaxing on her bed. I laughed a lot the first time I discovered this, but give it a go and see what effect it has on your ‘hound’.
Frequently Asked Questions
How old are Jack Russels when they begin to calm down?
This is a tricky one to answer with any degree of certainty, each little Jack Russel is different. In my life so far, I’ve had 5 Jack Russells and noticed a minor change in temperament at 1-year-old (emphasis on minor). My current Jack Russell calmed down much more at 3. But I have had other Jack Russels who’s stamina carried through to their senior years. In short, this will vary depending on individual dogs.
What do I do when my Jack Russels will not listen to commands?
Not listening to commands can be a sign of pent up energy. Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise.
How can I keep him calm if I do not have time to take him for long frequent walks?
For a one-off instance, I would use a chew toy with a little peanut butter spread inside. If this is a prolonged problem, consider hiring a dog walker or sharing walks with another owner.