Socialization, by its very definition, is "the act of adapting behavior to the norms of a culture or society such as going out and meeting new people, and experiencing new situations."
But with JRT's, the introduction of new people, and new situations can often lead to some very bad results. We will take a look at the process, and possible techniques, for socializing your JRT, so that you may both lead happier, healthier lives.
Although it is recommended that you socialize your JRT between the ages of three and twelve weeks, sometimes this is not possible. Maybe you rescued your JRT, or maybe you never thought of socializing them until they were much older. Do not despair. Your JRT can still be socialized, it will just take a little more time and effort on your part to get it done.
Introduce your JRT to new situations in small, short sessions. Your companion can quickly become very overwhelmed by it all, and you do not want to imprint a bad impression upon your JRT that creates a feeling of fear, instead of acceptance.
One sure fire way to start your JRT towards socialization is to leash walk them on a daily basis. Make sure you have them properly leash trained first. A guide for leash training may be found on this site in a previous post. Proper leash walking will help in the assurance to you that your JRT is under control, and will provide your JRT with a level of security as well.
When on a walk, your JRT will be exposed to a myriad of sights, sounds, and smells that are new and exciting. They will also be able to walk off all that energy, for which they are widely known to contain. Walking off this energy will help tremendously in the socializing process, as they will be less nervous, fidgety, and more submissive to the situation. If your JRT does begin to bark, dance, or pull on its leash, do not tug back or yell at your JRT. All this will serve is the chance that they will become even more nervous and agitated, and neither one of these will serve well in the long run.
There are many factors that may block your attempts at socializing your JRT. For instance, some JRT's are more receptive of women than men, and vis versa. And, some JRT's will appear leary of certain facial features, such as a beard, a floppy hat, sunglasses, or even a walking cane. JRT's have been known to react very aggressively to persons in uniform, such as a policeman, a fireman, and as we all know a postal worker. By taking the time to introduce your JRT to a variety of individuals and situations, you are aiding in a well rounded socialization of your companion.
Children are another issue in socialization. JRT's do not perceive small children as the tiny humans that they are. Rather, they see them as bundles of energy, that like to tug ears, grab tails, and just general heighten your companions anxieties. JRT' s are very nervous and anxious by nature, so anything that ramps up that nervousness and anxiousness is not on their list of favorite things. When trying to socialize your JRT to children, expose them to calm, well behaved children slowly. JRT's, for the most part, love all humans. By using the proper method to introduce them to small children in the beginning, you are assuring that there will not any problems down the line.
If you would like to take your JRT to dog parks and have playtime with other canines, then you will have to socialize them to this situation as well. Take your JRT to the dog park, but do not go inside the fence. Allow them to look in and observe the other canines. They will be able to see how the others interact with one another, and see that they are having fun. If your JRT starts to growl, or lunge at the fence, or other canines, back them up a few steps, until the growling stops. Once stopped, allow them to approach the fence again. As one of the canines approaches the fence, give your JRT a small nibble of treat. Do this each time your JRT is approached. They will come to learn that another canine approaching them is a good thing.
Socializing an adult JRT can be a daunting task, but on the other hand it can be done. It will take patience on your part, and remembering that new situations for your JRT can be both scary and off putting. Introduce situations slowly, and do not force or rush your JRT into them. Allow them to proceed at their own pace and comfort. It may take a while, but eventually they will come to accept it all. Above all, use your best judgement in all situations. If it does not feel right to you, you can almost guarantee that it will not feel right to you JRT.