Jack Russell Terriers: Ideal Dog For First Time Dog Owners?


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Adopting your first dog can be extremely exciting and stressful at the same time. I remember having a lot of excitement but also being filled with anxiety about the process.

I would wonder if I would do a good job as a dog owner and if I was ready for the responsibility of a dog in general. After owning several different dog breeds, I decided I was going to adopt a Jack Russell Terrier.

I’ll be the first to admit that it has not always been easy, but it’s certainly been rewarding.

I’ve also noticed a growing trend in individuals curious if a Jack Russell Terrier can be an ideal dog for a first-time dog owner.

With this dog breed, it’s imperative to answer this question and clear the air.

This is exactly what this brief discussion is going to cover. Whether or not a Jack Russell Terrier can make an ideal dog for a first-time dog owner.

And, of course, some of my personal experiences and opinions on the matter to help you decide if you are making the right decision.

Before sharing experiences and opinions on the matter, it’s essential to understand a Jack Russell Terriers demeanor and behavior.

Let’s start with those details now.

Understanding A Jack Russell Terriers Behavior

The more you can understand the natural behavior of a Jack Russell, the more you can prepare for the adoption.

For starters, it’s essential to understand that Jack Russells are incredibly high-energy dogs.

JRTs can keep up with any activity or task and even crave the opportunity to partake.

Without some obedience and discipline, the energy a Jack Russell can quickly become a problem for you.

Jack Russells are incredibly high-energy dogs.

They need an outlet to release energy, typically best served by providing a great deal of exercise.

Jack Russells are extremely loyal.

Some may even say that it’s a bit overboard.

A Jack Russell will take an extreme liking and love towards the family and owners, and they do not usually like competition for attention.

And lastly, one of the behaviors I always like to mention is a Jack Russells need to follow you and always be by your side.

This dog breed does not like being out of your sight. Unless they are occupied by their strong prey drive and chasing animals around the yard.

If you adopt a Jack Russell, you can be sure that this dog will be at your ankles 99% of the time.

With the expected behaviors of a Jack Russell now being known, let’s cover why a first-time dog owner may struggle to accommodate this dog and how to prepare a bit more effectively.

4 Reasons First Time Dog Owners May Struggle With a Jack Russell

1.) Not Factoring Other Pets in the Home

One of the first struggles a new Jack Russell Terrier owner will encounter after the adoption is the behavior and attitude around other pets in the home.

I had this struggle myself but also don’t want to sound any alarms or cause over-concern.

It’s not incredibly difficult to overcome, but it requires planning and honesty with yourself before the adoption.

If you have a dog, cat, or other pets, are you sure a new dog with a jealous side will mesh well with the other pets in the home?

Does your current pet do well with other pets in general?

My most crucial advice if you are dead set on adopting a JRT is to plan on socializing immediately.

The day you arrive home after the adoption, begin socializing your JRT with the other pets in the home immediately with supervision.

Jack Russell Terrier with cat. Begin socializing your JRT with the other pets in the home immediately with supervision.

Have patience and continue this method until you are comfortable. Especially until friendship and mutual respect have been developed between the two pets.

2.) Not Devoting Time to Training and Discipline

This is an essential tip to consider. A trained and disciplined Jack Russell Terrier can arguably be one of the best dogs. Intelligence and loyalty will be on full display with proper training and discipline.

Without proper training and discipline, disaster is likely what’s going to be on display.

This is not a dog to let run the show in the house. If you allow it, they will.

Trust me, this dog is smart and takes every inch you give them.

Make sure that if you plan to adopt this dog, you have the time to train this dog and establish who is in charge right out of the gates.

Make sure that if you plan to adopt a Jack Russell, you have the time to train right out of the gates

3.) Unable to Provide The Necessary Exercise

Much like the point we just covered, exercise is also imperative with a Jack Russell Terrier. Without it, they will have pent up energy and use it against you.

With it, you can wear them out and use that fatigue to your advantage to set the tone.

Make sure that if you want to adopt this dog breed, you have an adequate yard for your JRT to run around and burn off energy.

If you can’t do this, be sure you are providing the exercise in another form such as daily walks or an activity of your choice such as:

  • Running
  • Biking
  • Rollerblading
  • Hiking
  • Water sports
  • Fetch
  • Dog Parks

4.) Can’t Handle Clingy Pets

In my opinion, the last major turn-off in the beginning for me with my Jack Russell Terrier was this dog’s attachment issues to me in particular.

To this day, my Jack Russell still behaves in this fashion.

However, it’s important to note that I work from home and grew to enjoy the company. Some dog owners don’t prefer this attitude and behavior.

You may sometimes enjoy a clingy dog, but this is a permanent fixture to you after the adoption.

They love to be around and overwatching their owners.

Simply put, they are an incredibly loving and affectionate dog breed and prefer to show this love 24/7.

Be sure that you are comfortable with this behavior before adopting this dog because, in my experience thus far, it never goes away. It’s genetically programmed into this dog to be always by your side.

The Takeaway

Jack Russell Terriers can become one of the most loyal and entertaining dogs you can choose to adopt.

They present several challenges initially, but those challenges are worth it for the dog and best friend you and your family ultimately get.

While a first-time dog owner adopting a Jack Russell may have some early struggles, it is 100% possible to make the situation work with some preparation and patience.

For all of you considering a Jack Russell Terrier as your first dog, I highly recommend it.

However, I also recommend a great deal of preparation, homework, and diligence about the dog breed to give you the best chance at success in the most enjoyable and stress-free manner.

Best of luck with your new dog!

Also Read: Are Jack Russell Terriers Good Dogs for Seniors?

Josh Martin- Founder and Creator of Terrier Owner

Josh Martin is the proud owner of a female Jack Russell Terrier Named Luna. Josh founded TerrierOwner.com to share the stories of owning a Terrier and to help all terrier owners with the struggles, excitement and common questions that come with being a new terrier parent.

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