As most JRT owners know, these little powerhouses at times can call for some major upkeep. They are not a companion for the faint of heart, and anyone who lives with one (or in my case two), more than knows the pros and cons of the situation. And one of the cons of the relationship is some of those downright annoying behaviors that JRT’s are known for.
Let’s take a look shall we, and see what we might be able to do to maybe train, or at least control, some of these behaviors. You must admit, it would keep peace in the household dynamic if these types of behaviors can be limited, if not culled from the day to day life of you and your JRT.
One thing that is certain in life, a canine is going to bark. It is how they express many of their basic emotions: when they are happy, when they are excited, when they are experiencing anxiety, and even as a basic alert method. But, JRT’s take barking to a whole new level. They will bark for every emotion they are experiencing, they will bark for attention, they will bark out of boredom, at times they will bark for no good reason at all. I am a firm believer that JRT’s are just one of those breeds that are hard-wired to bark.
The two main reasons for most JRT’s continually barking is boredom or anxiety/irritation. If the suspected cause is boredom, this is easily remedied. Make sure that your JRT has plenty of toys to chew on and play with. If they have a means of occupying their time, then it would only follow that there will be little time left to bark. The other cause can be a little trickier to remedy. If you suspect your JRT is barking out of anxiety or irritation, the first step you will need to take is finding out the source of this reaction.
May times, the simple fact that you are leaving your companion, to go to work for instance, can trigger a spell of anxiety. This anxiety will build in your JRT, and eventually present itself as continual barking. Maybe they are hearing something that is either irritating them, or causing them anxiety out of fear. Making sure that your JRT feels safe and secure can sometimes remedy the problem of barking in this case.
Also, looking out the windows and barking most probably is because they see something that is irritating them. The post man, a squirrel, or even one of those oh so frightful plastic bags blowing down the street. In this case, the act of simply blocking your JRT’s view of that which is irritating them, maybe by pulling the curtains on a window, may be all it takes to calm them down.
Pulling on Lead
In a previous post, we touched on how to train your JRT to a leash. As stated in that post, it is a process that will take a little time, and a lot of patience, but it can be achieved. Although it is best to start this training when your JRT is a puppy, in some cases this is not always possible, such as in the case of a rescued companion. Keep in mind that whatever the case, it can be done. And the advantages to a lead trained JRT are tremendous. They will not be constantly pulling and straining when they are walked, which can in some cases cause throat damage or pulled muscles. Also, when a JRT is properly leash trained, they are more secure in any given situation. You do not have to worry about them running up on someone, or someone else’s pet, which can pose a whole host of problems. Another advantage is that, as they acclimate to the leash, you will have more control and demand of your JRT’s attention. This can only be a good thing, when walking your companion out in public.
The biting issue is also addressed in another previous post. In the same vein, let’s take a look at chewing. Ah, yes, JRT’s do like to chew. They will chew on anything and everything. I have even heard, and seen pictures of, them actually chewing wood furniture down to nothing. Kind of makes one wonder if maybe there is a little bit of woodchuck in the JRT bloodline.
Chewing comes naturally to all canines, so it is not necessarily a bad thing. JRT’s will chew to clean and strengthen their teeth, but a lot of chewing, especially the destructive kind, is like the barking mentioned above, out of boredom and anxiety.
Let’s all face it, JRT’s are one breed that is known for having a lot of anxiety and get bored really fast, really often. The anxiety is mostly due to their hyperactive nature that although it does make them jolly and playful all the time, in turn also makes them hypersensitive to the world and stimuli around them.
A canine, even as small as a JRT, can still be scary and most definitely annoying when they are jumping on you or someone that you know. But, dogs will be dogs, and just as with most small breeds, a jumping they will be. You may think that a jumping JRT is just a problem, as an owner, you will have to put up with. That is not necessarily true, not at all. As with most any annoying habit, and believe me jumping is a habit, your JRT can be trained to quit. There are those experts who seem to think the cause of jumping is either a form of attention, or a posturing to assert dominance. I am a more of a believer in the former, at least when it comes to my two girls. It is their way of getting my attention, as a last resort. And get my attention they do, most usually not quite the type of attention they want.
So where do you even begin to head off this frustrating habit? Well, if you subscribe to the reason behind the jumping being for attention, as I do, then the one simple hard and fast rule is…ignore it. That’s right I said ignore the jumping. If you continually bring attention to the habit, then your JRT will never quit. They are getting what they are wanting, your undivided attention, so they will continue to do what they know works. So, when they start jumping, just do your best not to respond. After a while, they will realize it is not working, calm down, and if they are like my girls, move on to something else. It will take a great deal of patience on your part, but in the long run you will be doing you, your guests, and yes, even your JRT, a great service.
Ah, good ol door dashing. I have one girl who never does this, and one that is an outright pro at it.
Door dashing is just what it sounds like. You open the door, your JRT sees an opportunity, and seizes it by dashing out the door. JRT’s are one breed that is notorious for this maneuver. Training this behavior out of you JRT will be another one that will take time and patience. For your companion, door dashing ranks right up there with squirrel chasing, hole-digging, and toilet water drinking. Keeping in mind that the more a JRT is allowed to do something, anything, like humans the better they will become at it. So, you must take matters into your own hands as soon as possible. To this day, my oldest will still look at the door, and with a twinkle in her eye, I am sure plotting her escape. But, what may work are two things, breaking up the routine on exits, and child gates. By switching up which entrance/exit that is used, for lack of a better term your JRT is being kept on its toes. Without being able to anticipate which door to dash out of, your JRT will essentially be caught off guard. Also, using child gates to gate off rooms is great for all kinds of reasons, and door dashing is one. When having to go in and out a door multiple times, say to bring in groceries, either crate your JRT, or use a child gate to block them off into another room. That way they can still see what is happening, but the opportunity to dash will not present itself.
This annoying habit can go hand-in-hand with door dashing. If your JRT is that bound and determined to get out the door, then when they do, they are not going to answer your calls of frustration. They are going to run long, run far, and run wide, making the most of their newly granted freedom. Nothing brings more fear to a JRT owner, than the thought that their companion will run away. First and foremost, you JRT needs to have some sort of obedience training . Whether this training is provided by a professional or done by you, there needs to be some control established in the relationship. Your companion needs to learn to respect you, listen to you, and do as told. This will require a LOT of patience and dedication on your part, as JRT’s are hard-wired to be runners.
And, if you can’t get your companion trained yourself, don’t feel bad. Many have had to seek professional help in this area. As you are training your JRT, keep in mind that if they do get away from you, and run off, do not chase after them. They will begin to interpret this action as meaning the two of you are playing a game. Also, do NOT punish your JRT when they do return. They will begin to associate their return with being punished, and may one day never see your JRT again. The most sure-fire way to make sure your JRT does not run away is to follow the suggestion above for door dashing, and to make when they are out with you, you keep them on a leash.
Finally we have the most common annoying habit among JRT’s—digging. Lets face it, canines are diggers, no matter what breed. But, some breeds dig more than others. Having been bred to run foxes and other such pray out of their dens, digging is hard-wired into JRT’s. Not only is it literally nature for them to dig, they enjoy it, probably more than any other activity out there. But, as the owner, you are probably getting tired of the holes in your yard, and your companion dragging dirt and mud into the house, following one of their escapades. JRT’s dig or a multitude of reasons: because they smell bugs or possible prey; because they are trying to “dig themselves free” due to fear or anxiety; and even some will dig a hole to crawl in to keep cool in the heat. Whatever the reason your JRT digs, keep in mind that it is natural—sometimes annoying but natural. The only real thing you can do when they dig is to rule out that it is not caused by something medical, such as a possible vitamin or mineral deficiency. Otherwise, try to put up with the habit, and understand that is it their nature, and nothing more.
Although JRT’s do have their share of annoying habits, there are ways to cull these habits out, or maybe lessen their frequency so that the balance of peace may be kept in the household. Because, after all, much like our JRT’s, even we are not perfect. There are sure to be a few of your habits that they find annoying as well.