The Jack Russell Terrier is an active and fun-loving dog, and they need to be challenged in their everyday lives to stay balanced and happy. Regular walks are great, but there are so many other things you could do with your JRT!
Change it up when it comes to activities to keep your furry friend entertained and see for yourself how proper physical- and mental stimulation can help improve both their health, their overall state of mind and their behavior.
Jack Russell Terriers are the ideal adventure buddies – a dog that is up for anything and everything, all the time, and one that won’t back down from a challenge. Here are a few suggestions for what you can try with your Jack Russell, and one of these activities might become an instant favorite!
Jack Russell Terriers love to be out and about; they love to play and run, are very agile and they don’t tire easily, which makes them ideal for bringing along on hikes! Take your furry little JRT on an adventure out in nature and let them get rid of all that energy while you get some fresh air and exercise for yourself!
Your Jack Russell should be in good physical condition, and you should pick a trail that is suitable (in terms of length and level of difficulty) for both you and your dog.
Make sure you have a harness for your dog, as this is a safer option than a collar if they would get themselves tangled up in something during the hike and get a good leash that is comfortable for you to hold on to.
If your dog follows commands and comes back when called for, and if the trail permits off-leash dogs, it could be fun to let your fur friend run around, but if you are unsure of whether your dog would listen to you – keep him or her on a leash for their own safety and the safety of other hikers.
Have you heard of the sport where dogs jump over obstacles, run through tunnels, balance on beams, zigzag past poles and walk up and down seesaws – all in a set order and while being timed? If so – that sport is known as Agility, and it is a canine activity which Jack Russell Terriers are known to excel at.
The JRT is fast, jumps high, is small enough to keep its equilibrium during balance acts, it learns fast and it works well under pressure, and best of all – it is a dog that is built and bred to push their own limits every time!
All dog breeds can generally practice Agility, but the Jack Russell Terrier has everything required to not only enjoy the sport (because yes – they are likely to love it) but also to be very good at it. You can practice Agility with your JRT for fun to keep your pup happy and entertained, or you can practice it with the intention of eventually competing in Agility competitions.
Agility requires some basic obedience training as it is usually done off-leash due to the activities involved… You can’t run through an agility tunnel behind your dog! When you compete you are not allowed to use treats or touch the dog while it runs the pre-set course.
Another canine sport fit for a Jack Russell Terrier is Flyball! This is where the dog runs a straight course, jumps four obstacles, hits a target on a machine that releases a tennis ball and then returns back the same way (once again going over the jumps) to where the next dog in the team is waiting for his turn.
It is a very fast-paced sport that requires discipline and concentration, which are two things the overenergetic JRT can benefit greatly from practicing.
You can play and practice Flyball on your own, but to compete you would need to be part of a team of owners and dogs, so you might want to contact your local kennel club to see if they have any leads on where you could find other dog lovers who might be interested in this unique, fun and challenging adrenaline rush of a dog sport!
Hide & Seek
This simple game is something you can play at home with your Jack Russell Terrier, and that they are likely to love! Expect to the clatter of claws against your floor, excited barks and the sound of your fur friend sniffing in the air, and by the time you finish playing – your energetic JRT might even be ready for a nap!
It is the perfect game to play on rainy days when you don’t feel like taking any long walks, or when the dog park isn’t an option, and anyone can play with minimal preparation.
The idea would be for your Jack Russell Terrier to wait while you or another family member go and hide somewhere in the house. It may require some practice before your Jack Russel figures out what it is you want him to do, but he will get the hang of it soon enough!
A good place to start is by teaching the dog to Sit and Stay on command, as this will allow you to leave your dog behind while you go to find. You should also make sure to teach a ‘Search’ command for your dog to know when it is okay to start looking for you.
If this sounds like too much work, or if you are eager to start playing – just get another family member to hold back your Jack Russell while you hide, to prevent him or her from cheating! Make sure you give plenty of praise (and treats!) when they find you, or they might quickly get bored with the game.
Sometimes a good old game of fetch is exactly what your dog (and you) need! Jack Russell Terriers love to run, so bring out their favorite ball and start throwing! Try throwing it in different directions to make the game more engaging and see if you can find a big park to give your small fur friend a real run for his money! There are so many ways you can make Fetch more fun, so don’t discard it just because you have played the game before.
There are a variety of different balls you can choose to get for your games of fetch; regular tennis balls, rubber balls that bounce, balls that float in water, balls with lights that activate upon impact and balls with odd shapes that bounce in unpredictable directions.
You can purchase a ball launcher if you want to be able to throw the ball further than you otherwise could, and if your dog really loves to fetch – perhaps an automatic fetch machine or ball launcher could be the ideal solution, as it will make it possible for your JRT to play fetch even when you don’t have time to participate!
Most dogs love to eat, but did you know that you can make eating a lot more fun and engaging for your dog? A food puzzle or an activation toy will slow down your Jack Russell Terrier’s eating, which is great for digestion, and it will keep them entertained for more than just the couple of minutes it takes to gulp down a plate of food.
What many JRT owners experience is that their dogs are very energetic and hard to satisfy when it comes to activities and activation and turning dinner time into something fun can help regulate “bad” behaviors caused by boredom.
You have the choice of different types of food puzzles, depending on what your dog is the most likely to respond well to. Balls with a hole where you insert the kibble are popular, as they keep rolling around the floor while the dog tries to get the goodies out, or you could get an actual puzzle where the challenge is to lift cups or move something in order to get access to the food. Brain games are great for energetic dogs like the Jack Russell Terrier.
Make sure to invest in suitable dog food for Jack Russell Terriers.
Does dock diving ring a bell? No? If not, it is pretty much exactly what it sounds like! Dock Diving is a canine sport where the dog runs along a dock and jumps into a body of water. This will usually be a lake or a large pool, and there are international competitions where the challenge is for the dog to jump as far out into the water as possible.
The most commonly seen breeds to compete are large dogs like Border Collies, Belgian Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers, but any dog is free to participate; and you could also do it just for fun! Jack Russell Terriers are great jumpers, and many do great around water. Why not give it a try to see if your JRT is up for the challenge?
Never force your Jack Russell into the water and try to make sure he or she likes it first before taking it any further. Start by playing near the water, try throwing a ball into the water to see if the dog will follow, etc. etc. If your dog is not an avid swimmer – consider using a reliable life vest for dogs.
A Tired JRT is a Happy JRT
Jack Russell Terriers will feel their greatest when they’ve had a full day of fun; when they are either physically- or mentally tired, and when they have gotten to use all that bottled up energy for something productive!
These are a few examples of what you can engage your dog in, but remember to always bring water, to keep the sessions short (as you don’t want to overdo it) and to adapt any activity to your furry friend’s individual capacity and his- or her needs. Jack Russell Terriers are fun and adventurous dogs, so use that to come up with fun things for them to do.