Thinking about getting a JRT?
I originally got Gromette because of a clause in my lease stating that I could not get a dog weighing more than 25 pounds. (The landlord feared that a heavier dog's claws would scratch the maple flooring). It's quite probable that no first time Jack Russell owner quite knows what they are getting into. The breed is notorious for its energy and recalcitrance, not to mention digging, chewing, and terrorization of smaller animals. But, if you invest the time, you will be rewarded with a smart, loyal, playful dog which becomes a seamless part of your family. There are plenty of websites that will give you details about the breed. I thought I'd use this site to relay my own experiences.
6 years of things that I'm still not that happy about:
- Barking / chasing / attempting to harm cats: Although I tried to socialize Gromette with cats when she was younger, she always saw them as an irresistible thing to chase. It wasn't until I saw her savagely attack a possum that I understood that things could end poorly if she ever were to catch someone's pet. The stories from Terrier.com about JRTs and cats play out my biggest fears. So, for the last 4 years, I've never let her interact with cats or give them chase. The possum waddled off unharmed, by the way.
- Barking / chasing rodents: Specifically, squirrels. Even a shock collar was insufficient to train her to not race into the street hot on the tail of a bouncy squirrel. Normally, she understand the boundaries of curbs, but this gets forgotten as soon as a squirrel comes into view.
- Pulling on her leash: Off-leash walks are a piece of cake, particularly given how good Gromette's recall is and how well she heels. Once the leash is attached, I might as well be an Iditarod musher.
- Digging: If there are gophers around, Gromette's compulsion to dig is stoppable only by standing on top of the gopher hole. She seems unusually sensitive to gopher scents, to the point that I can't really distract her with a ball or frisbee in parks with gophers.
If you really want a JRT...
- Commit to a few months of puppy training. The training is on how to be a good owner, not for the dog to be a good pet.
- Socialize your puppy with other dogs. Doing this daily will help to prevent aggression towards other dogs.
- Walk your dog every day. Your JRT will need exercise, so understand that you are committing to at least an hour every day for the next 15 years.