Just because your Jack Russell Terrier is not a large dog, does not mean they shouldn’t walk nicely on leash. While your JRT may not be able to pull you over, they can still cause injury to your shoulder, arm, or wrist should they suddenly bolt. It’s also not good for your dog’s body to be constantly pulling against you. This includes pulling due to her stopping and barking at everything. Finally, leash manners mean your dog listens and pays attention to you, which will translate into other areas of obedience as well. If you are unsure how to start teaching this, here are five tips for preventing your Jack Russell Terrier from pulling on the leash.
#1 – Start Young
Dogs start learning from the moment they are born – what do you want yours to learn? Do not wait until your Jack Russell puppy is an adolescent – start teaching good leash manners as soon as you bring yours home.
#2 – Teach Self-Control
Jack Russells are intelligent and have a strong will. At first, you may find that upping your reward helps – often more intelligent dogs need more of a reason to do what you ask. In addition, teaching self-control so your JRT can make the right choice – for example, staying by your side instead of chasing that bunny – is very helpful. Stay, Go To Bed (mat-stay behavior), sitting for a toy/food/petting, etc. are all good ways to work on self-control.
#3 – Practice Attention
Jack Russell Terriers can easily get distracted by things in their environment, especially if there are things to chase, like bunnies. On leash, this can lead to you being pulled in whatever direction your JRT feels like – not fun! A key to stopping these behaviors is to keep him focused on you during a walk. Working on looking at you when you say his name, offering eye contact without a cue, Leave It and Drop are important to leash training.
#4 – Reward Correct Position
Whenever your Jack Russell is calmly walking in heel position – by your side with a loose leash – be sure you reward him. You can even turn this into a game by trying to move away from your JRT and seeing if he stays with you off-leash in your house or in your backyard. Start off easy and then increase difficulty (quicker pace, tighter turns) as he learns the game. Rewards can be anything he likes, including treats, praise, toys, etc. As long as your Jack Russell likes it, it’s a reward. Dogs repeat behaviors that are reinforced, so the more you reinforce him for being in that spot, the more he will do it. It’s as simple as that!
#5 – Don’t Let Pulling Be Reinforced
As mentioned, dogs do what gets reinforced, so make sure your Jack Russell Terrier is not being rewarded for pulling. If she pulls on the leash and gets what she wants (like chasing a bunny or greeting a dog,) then she will continue to do it and it will get worse. So, if you feel your JRT start to pull you in one direction, plant your feet, don’t move, and wait until he returns to you. You can also turn and walk in the opposite direction. Once she is walking next to you nicely, you can turn back and go the way she wanted to in the first place. This teaches your Jack Russell that if she wants to go somewhere, she has to keep that leash loose. Dogs figure this game out quickly, so it can make training go faster.