When you first adopt a Jack Russell Terrier, you may be surprised to realize that they aren’t sprinting around the house or exerting all that energy you have heard so much about.
At least, not in the beginning.
After first arriving home with your Jack Russell Terrier, you will have a period where your JRT is relatively calm and pleasantly easily to control and monitor.
Don’t be fooled though.
This period doesn’t last long and when you first arrive home, you are in for what’s known as a fear cycle with your Jack Russell Terrier.
This is nothing to be overly alarmed over and it’s what we are going to focus today’s discussion around.
Today, we are going to discuss what fear cycles are, how to handle them and how to provide the best care for your Jack Russell Terrier during a fear cycle.
Let’s start with the basics and explain what a fear cycle is.
Understanding Fear Cycles with Jack Russell Terriers
The most essential thing to remember about fear cycles with Jack Russell Terriers or any dog for that matter is that they are natural and part of how a dog develops.
Fear cycles go hand in hand with socialization and pertains directly to your Jack Russell taking in their environment and learning the world around them.
This can come in many forms and not every Jack Russell and not every dog will experience fear cycles in the same way.
Not all dogs will even have multiple fear cycles.
It depends on the dog and how they adapt to your home and the upbringing and care you provide them.
It’s also important that you understand that it’s your job to provide the best care possible and have some patience for your Jack Russell Terrier during a fear cycle.
Your new Jack Russell is coming into a brand-new home, and everything feels brand new and scary to them.
Let’s start with the first cycle that is nearly impossible to avoid and a critical piece of your Jack Russell’s development and socialization.
Common Fear Cycle Timelines
Some experts state that a dog will go through 1 or 2 fear cycles. Dogs that adapt faster to their environment and are brought up with proper training discipline are going to adjust relatively quickly.
However, depending on how many social situations they experience at a young age may impact the fear cycles they experience later in their development.
The one fear cycle that is nearly impossible to avoid is the fear cycle that is going to take place right upon arriving home after the adoption.
Let’s touch on those details first.
Upon Arriving Home 8-12 Weeks Old or Immediately Following an Adoption
In most situations, when you adopt a Jack Russell from a breeder, you won’t be able to pick them up and bring them home until 8 weeks of age or after.
This is to allow them time to get the nutrients from their mother and begin switching to puppy food.
This is also going to be a stressful time for your Jack Russell which is why it’s the most common fear cycle all dogs will go through after being adopted.
The dog at this point, has been taken from their environment, taken from their mother and is no longer around any other sibling dogs that they were born with.
If you have ever picked a puppy up from a breeder, you probably noticed the puppy didn’t do much except curl up in a ball and sleep in the car on the way home.
Potentially, they even puked or soiled themselves.
Some of this is motion sickness kicking in and some of this is fear.
When you arrive home, it’s best to begin socialization right away.
Let your Jack Russell get used to sounds and smells of the home and the general commotion that’s going to take place in the household daily.
This is how your Jack Russell is going to get comfortable and develop.
This is also how you can get your Jack Russell to feel safe and exit the first fear cycle as quickly as possible.
Since this is the most likely fear cycle you will experience, it should be stated that most of the time, your Jack Russell will sleep, try, and remain close to the family member they trust and potentially soil themselves when frightened.
Remain patient, with good care and some training, this cycle doesn’t last very long.
6-14 Months Old
The next potential fear cycle you will encounter with a Jack Russell is going to be around the 4-6 months of age mark.
This is typically because this is when you begin partaking in more activities with your Jack Russell.
This can include activities such as exercise, going for walks or being put in social situations where they are around more people or even pets.
This fear cycle is essentially the by-product of simply not experiencing a lot of life a dog will typically experience.
You need to also understand that at this age, they most likely are growing out of their puppy bodies and potentially even experiencing symptoms of entering heat.
You need to repeat your steps and attitude you used right after the adoption.
Remain patient, continue training and continue getting your Jack Russell as comfortable as possible with as many situations as possible to eliminate fear or any potential aggressive behaviors.
A Few Things You Can Do
The best thing you can do through this development stage and the first few years with your Jack Russell during these phases is remain calm and don’t overreact.
Your Jack Russell will look up to you and be watching your reactions much more than you may believe.
My Jack Russell is constantly following me everywhere I go.
They pay attention and you as the owner and the person they trust most, have a ton of control over the situation.
Stay calm, use praise and rewards when situations are handled correctly by your Jack Russell.
The more social situations and experiences they encounter and handle with good behavior, the more this dog can repeat said behavior.
Jack Russell’s may be known as stubborn dogs, but they are highly intelligent.
Use this to your advantage through these fear cycles.
To me, fear cycles is essentially the same as the socialization process.
It is important to have a feel for what your Jack Russell is feeling and have empathy that they are scared in certain situations which is going to result in behavior you may not prefer.
It’s on you as the owner to ensure you correct behavior, praise good behavior, and make your Jack Russell feel safe.
In my situation, my Jack Russell seemed to adapt quickly, and I didn’t notice a fear cycle or fear stage once she reached about 3-4 months old.
I believe this can be the case for you as well with proper care and training.
Luna and I wish you the best of luck with your Jack Russell Terriers and the journey you have ahead of you.