This tiny hairball is probably one of the most characteristic breeds you could consider adopting. We love them for it.
They’re somewhat obedient and highly intelligent, but your Jack Russell will always be a hunting dog deep down. Digging, barking, following scents and acting aggressive are all part of any hunting breed.
But do Jack Russells get jealous? When is your Jack Russell’s behavior a problem?
The Jack Russell Terrier breed undoubtedly tends towards aggression, especially with other dogs and people they see as invaders to their home. But is this really jealousy?
Well, yes, a Jack Russell can be jealous. When they encounter a dog of another breed, a Jack that’s the same sex as them, or even a child or anyone else you are paying attention to instead of them, your Jack Russell may indeed show signs of aggression.
Jealousy can be prevented in Jack Russells Terriers by socializing them well from a young age. But unfortunately, many Jack Russells do not get adequately socialised due to the fear of them being aggressive.
However, it is still possible to take action against your Jack’s jealousy at a later age.
As we mentioned earlier, the Jack Russell is a naturally aggressive hunting dog. So, it can be hard to figure out whether a behavior is just your Jack being their usual self or their behavior is something to worry about, like jealousy.
The main way to spot that your Jack Russell is being jealous is by looking at the situation. Where is their aggressive behavior directed?
For example, if it’s towards a dog from another breed, this is a well-documented phenomenon.
Picking fights with dogs of other breeds is common for any Jack, especially when they’re on their leash.
Though they don’t necessarily snap at their leash, being restricted frustrates your Jack Russell.
Your Jack Russell Terrier may feel possessive as if they have to protect you during your walk together.
If your Jack is aggressive towards another dog or human in your household, especially a child, chances are this behavior is indicative of jealousy too.
Your Jack Russell may feel threatened by this new presence and unsure what to do with them. With fewer walks and play for them, your Jack may have the energy to use up in this situation.
In a Jack Russell Terrier, jealousy can look like destruction. When left unattended, your Jack may destroy objects and fixtures in your home.
If they are jealous of another dog, your Jack Russell’s jealousy may manifest more as extreme aggression – they and the other dog may fight quite dramatically.
With a child, your Jack may growl or bare their teeth. This behavior could escalate later on.
However, there are other reasons your Jack Russell Terrier may behave like this. Your Jack may just be bored, for example. If your Jack is getting less exercise, play, or stimulation than usual – but their destructive behavior doesn’t seem to be directed towards anyone, their excess energy has to go into doing something.
The Jack Russell Terrier has a long history as a hunting dog. To this day, Jacks everywhere still dig, bark, and track scents around the street and park, deaf to the shouts of their owners.
In this hunting past, the Jack Russell would have had one person with whom they’d be very close. This person would have been their handler during the hunt.
A Jack Russell would have listened to that person’s commands only and would have been protective of that person if they were threatened by any beasts or people in the wilderness.
This is just one reason why Jack Russells may be possessive. But did you know that Jacks also have a companionable side? Yes, the Jack Russell Terrier also has the small dog’s lapdog tendency.
You may have seen this in Chihuahuas, for example. The small dog bonds closely with one member of the family. Sure, they’ll tolerate everyone else. But, if they suspect this member is being remotely threatened, expect lots of growling and teeth baring!
Yes. It’s strange, with their tendency to hate almost all other dogs. Many owners find that even the most otherwise cantankerous of a Jack Russell gets along great with other Jack Russells or other terriers!
Some Jack Russells Terriers will only get along with other Jacks of the same sex, while other JRTs get on with exclusively opposite sex Jack Russells, or even both.
Of course, this is no reason to leave your Jack Russell unsupervised with another Jack. Indeed, no dogs should be left alone together for extended periods – you never know when unexpected aggression could arise.
If your Jack Russell exhibits jealousy behaviours, you’ll want them to stop. After all, though they’re small dogs, they can still be quite dramatic when they bite or growl. You may even worry about them hurting children or babies!
If your Jack Russell bites people, try teaching your Jack that biting hurts. A good way to do this is by putting your hand over their muzzle and pushing their lips into their teeth. If they then bite down, they’ll only be biting their own lips.
Why do this? Well, it simulates what another dog would do to correct your Jack. Thus, your Jack Russell should get the message pretty quickly!
If this doesn’t work, try distracting your Jack Russell Terrier with a durable chew toy. Puppy or adult, your Jack Russell can chew this toy up as much as they want. This is ideal if your Jack Russell is bored or teething.
But if all else fails, your Jack Russell needs a time out. Your Jack Russell is probably overtired and could do with a nap.
Yes – whether it’s the Jack Russell’s small dog-ness or their natural tendency towards aggression and protectiveness, Jack Russells are prone to jealous behaviors.
You can somewhat prevent negative jealousy by giving your Jack Russell enough exercise and attention.
This will tire them out and prevent them from feeling left out. But with Jack Russell Terriers requiring so much socialization and discipline, preventing jealousy is challenging.
So, if you’re extremely worried about how your Jack Russell behaves, get in touch with a local animal behaviorist.