Q&A: Dealing With a Troublesome Rescue


We adopted a Jack Russell approx 3months ago and his behaviour is going from bad to worse. We have 3 children aged 1, 10 and 14 and a West Highland Terrier. We explained on adoption that we were looking for a dog with minimal training needs as due to home and work we didn’t have the time to commit to training but had room and love for a new addition. He is a lovely dog but he jumps continually so it’s difficult having him around the baby as he knocks her over and steals everything she has in her hands. The older children struggle with the jumping and nipping at their hands. He isn’t too bad regarding toileting and have only had a few accidents. We have bought several toys – kongas, balls, squeaky toys etc – to occupy him but he wants everything but those and destroys them. He gets on fine with our Westie though and they do play nicely together. He just will not listen.

We can get him to sit but only with a treat and the rest of the time he ignores you. We are finding life extremely stressful having to try and keep the baby and house safe and my husband is unimpressed by him trying to bite him every time I try to remove him from the sofa (where we don’t allow either of the dogs).

If you have some advice it would be very welcome.. As I say I know training would be ideal but with my husband working days and me nights one if us is always working while the other has the baby so time is an issue.



Hi Sarah.

Training is going to be the key here. You can do it yourself or you can hire a professional, but it sounds jack-russelas if your puppy needs a clear set of rules to follow, and someone to follow through enforcing those rules. I will give you a guideline on some things you need to do, but ultimately you and your husband must find time to practice with the dog to modify his behavior. Firstly, many behavior issues are linked to lack of exercise. Jack Russell’s need a lot of exercise. This breed needs two walks a day, for 45 minutes each walk at a minimum. Maybe this is something you can get your older kids to help with. Additional time spend playing with a ball or something will also help. When dogs don’t get enough exercise, they take out their pent up energy other ways, like destroying things. For obedience, you need to practice about 15 minutes twice a day. Your dog should know the following: sit, down, stay, come and heel. Once he is good at the command, you need to move away from the food (giving it every second time, then every third time, then no food at all). Your commands need to be firm and only said once. You then use the leash to move him into the correct position without repeating yourself. You can find lots of helpful tips on the website to guide you through this. For the jumping, no one should touch him unless all four feet are on the ground. If he jumps up everyone should use their leg to gently push him off whilst saying, ‘get off’ in a firm tone. There is to be no play time or attention when he jumps and you should turn your back and walk away. In respect to jumping on the couch, practice with him on a leash. Let him jump and then tell him to ‘get off’ in a firm tone, and use the leash to move him to the ground. Practice this at least ten times a day. When he nips at anyone you need to stay calm but tell him a firm ‘no’. You can give him his own toy to play with and chew. It is always hard to have a baby and a young, excitable dog. Until you get more control you may want to consider keeping the dog on a leash at times when the baby is around. You need the dog to listen to you so you can tell him ‘no’ and he will stop. The only way to do this is through training! Lots of repetition, time, patience and additional exercise will achieve the results you want.

Beth Jeffery


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Beth Jeffery

Beth Jeffery is a Dog Trainer and Behaviorist with over 15 years experience in the field. She spent years in the Service Dog field, training both Guide Dogs for the Blind and Assistance Dogs for the Disabled, as well as many years working with pet dogs. Beth current runs her Dog Training business in San Diego, working with dogs of all breeds, all ages, and with all issues, from puppy training through to aggressive dogs.

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