How to train a Jack Russell Terrier – Best 5 easy tips

If you want to know how to train a Jack Russell Terrier, you’re in the right place. This Jack Russell blog is dedicated to these little dogs that are full of character. Are Jack Russell Terriers easy to train? Well yes and no. The good news is that they are very smart little dogs that are eager to please. Plus they will do literally anything for a treat! Training a Jack Russell can be challenging though, they are strong-willed and it can sometimes seem like they are ignoring you on purpose. They have to know who’s boss, spoiler alert, it’s not them! Jack Russell’s are plucky little dogs that are known to take on the Alpha role if given the half chance. This can lead to bad behaviour like growling or being snappy, it’s something that can’t be tolerated and needs a firm nip in the bud.

How to train a Jack Russell dog

Training any dog starts with you being in charge. Dogs have evolved with a pack mentality, with the strongest member of the family leading the others. That’s you! You already provide the food and shelter, it just needs to be clear that you are in charge in other areas, dogs naturally accept this but need clear cues from you. Another huge factor in bad behaviour is boredom. Jack Russell’s need a lot of attention, socialisation and exercise. Destructive behaviour or excessive barking is a sure sign that a JR is bored.

Top 5 Jack Russell Terrier training tips

1. Remain calm and in control. Getting annoyed will just escalate the situation. Avoid negative punishment.

2. Consistency is the key. They don’t understand if they are allowed on the sofa one day but not the next.

3. Change behaviour through distraction. When someone comes to the door offer them a treat in return for calm behaviour to distract their attention.

4. Make sure the dog has its own space. Have a bed in a quiet corner where the dog can be left alone if it needs time alone.

5. Use a clicker or treats if voice commands don’t seem to work alone.

How to stop a Jack Russell barking

Top clear commands for a well trained Jack Russell

Jack Russell’s are intelligent dogs that can learn a wide variety of commands, shown by their use in competitions such as Crufts as well as on film and TV. These are the main commands that Jack Russell’s need to know before anything else.

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Down
  • Drop it
  • Come
  • Bed

How to train a Jack Russell to listen

The very first thing to make sure that your dog understands is to look to you for direction. Using a voice command or clicker followed by praise, is a great way to get their attention. Make sure they respond to their name by using it clearly before mealtimes, walks and other enjoyable activities. Use clear commands in a playful tone that they will want to do to make you happy. Shouting rarely works, it will just wind you both up!

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How to train a Jack Russell Terrier to come

This one can be tricky and needs to be started as soon as possible. You can start inside, go into a different room and call your dogs name followed by “come”. Reward the dog with praise and even treats when they come, making sure to to touch their collar first. Continue this outside, using the same instructions and touching the collar before giving a reward. If the dog is hesitant, start to run the opposite way inviting a ‘chase’ that they can’t resist, reward them again once you touch the collar.

Never shout at your dog or scold them when they come back. Even if it’s for a different reason they will not comprehend this and be put off returning. Calmy put on the lead and move on.

“Proofing” is testing this out with other distractions like other dogs or people. The dog needs to focus on you no matter the distraction. A long lead can be used to ensure they aren’t in danger if things don’t go to plan. If you need a bit more practice without distractions, work on it somewhere quiet, then go back and try again in a busier environment. Usually the more socialisation the dog gets the better it will behave.

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How to train a Jack Russell Terrier

How to train a Jack Russell to sit

This one’s fairly easy and should take up 10 mins a day for between two to ten days depending on the dog’s age/ attention span. Treats are the easiest reward to start with. Say the command “sit” followed by a tap on the back legs. Try against a wall to avoid the dog backing up if necessary. As soon as the dog makes a move resembling a sit give the treat, working on the duration of the sit as you go. As you go on try just using verbal rewards instead of actual treats to instil the good behaviour.

Keep using the command when out walking and crossing roads etc. Dogs, like us, can forget things if they aren’t reminded now and then. Be firm and only give praise or treats when the dog is doing what you ask. If it’s not working stop and try again another day. Learning how to train a Jack Russell Terrier doesn’t happen overnight.

How to train a Jack Russell not to bark

This can be one of the hardest habits to break, in many ways a Jack Russel’s bark is part of his character. Jack Russell Terriers are hunting dogs that were bred to bark when they caught prey to alert the hunter. They are also highly intelligent and social dogs that can get bored easily if left alone, which can also lead to excessive barking. They need to be walked at least twice a day, if you don’t have the time find a dog walker near you on Bark. Like most training, teaching your Jack Russell not to bark takes a calm, consistent approach. Learning how to train a Jack Russell Terrier takes time and commitment.

 Read the full guide how to stop a Jack Russell Terrier barking.

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How do I stop my Jack Russell biting

Usually a Jack Russell bites because it’s excited. If you are coming into the house, going out on a walk or doing something that excites your JR they can become nippy. Pull toys or balls are a great way to stop this by removing the possibility to bite. Teach your dog to pick up their toy when they get excited, reminding them if they get close to nipping that the need to “get their toy”.

If a Jack Russell is aggressive it can be due to a number of reasons. Like the dog thinking it’s the Alpha, as previously explained, being overly protective or feeling threatened. Make sure they know their place and remove their ability to be at the same level as humans i.e. on sofas and beds etc. Treat them like a dog (not a human) and respect their space. Although you should always be higher than a dog, never get below their eye level, you should never lean over them or get too close to their face. These are very threatening behaviours to a dog. If biting other dogs is a problem consider using a mouth guard until you can improve the behaviour. Pairs of terriers that are the same sex can often fight, it’s best to separate them when left alone and remove any items that may cause jealously. 

A great investment is to take your dog to training lessons with a professional dog trainer. Find a dog trainer near you on Bark.

Signs of aggression to a dog

How your body language might be creating bad behaviour

This is a sign of aggressive dominance. Particularly if your dog is already showing submissive behaviour by hanging their head low or rolling on their back. Back off sit down and let them come to you for affection.

If you haven’t noticed dog’s usually approach each other from the back end. Face to face is a much more threatening display especially when combined with baring your teeth – a sign of aggression throughout the animal kingdom.

Dog’s sometimes like to stare into our souls when we’re eating a tasty sandwich but they actually naturally avoid eye contact. Like with many animals it’s rude for a dog to stare straight into another’s eye.

Never shout at a dog for growling, it just reinforces the aggression, it goes without saying to never hit your dog. Don’t pet the dog either as it’s rewarding the behaviour. Just learn to understand what the dog’s saying, adjust your behaviour and send them to their private space if necessary.

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How do I stop my Jack Russell jumping up?


Jack Russell’s are excitable and affectionate dogs but jumping up when you arrive home shouldn’t be tolerated as it won’t just be you they are jumping on. Problems can arise when there are young children or elderly people at the door. You need to be firm and teach them patience, don’t show any affection until you are in the house and settled down otherwise you are inadvertently just rewarding this behaviour. Make sure they know they aren’t top of the pack by greeting other family members first, this can also help with separation anxiety.

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In short

The most important thing to know how to train a Jack Russell Terrier is to be consistent. They don’t understand if we tell them one thing is OK one minute and punish them the next. They are constantly taking cues from you, if you act like bath-time is a chore they will hate it. If you are scared to cut their nails they will fear it. If you laugh when they chase the cat they will think it’s good behaviour. It takes no time to create a bad habit but it’s a lot of hard work to change it. Take note of how you are acting around your dog and take the time to learn how to train a Jack Russell.

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