Though a lovable and loyal companion, the dog that can and will capture your heart, the Jack Russell Terrier is also the dog that will test your limits. He can be willful and stubborn and truly wear your patience thin.
You must establish the pecking order immediately. You are the boss and he must learn to respect that.
These dogs are working dogs, bred to be hunters and diggers. They require a lot of exercise. The number one reason that owners give up their Jack Russell Terriers is that they were not prepared for the amount of activity required to make these dogs happy and healthy.
The Jack Russell is not really suitable for apartments or condominiums due to the activity they require. They are excellent watch dogs but they tend to bark a lot which no doubt can annoy the neighbors.
They need a place where they can romp and play. A house with a big back yard is preferable, but because these dogs are jumpers (the can jump up to 5 feet) and diggers, you will need a yard with a secured high fence, so the dog can not jump over it or dig under it. If you prefer to have an pretty lawn and garden this will not be the dog for you.
If the dog does not get in suitable amounts of exercise he will become bored and nasty. He will tend to nip and bite which is the second most common reason why owners give up their dogs. These dogs are not especially good with small children for this very reason.
They will also dig up houseplants, chew furniture and soil your floors and carpets; all because they are not getting the proper amount of exercise. These dogs must be walked several times a day.
When walking they must be kept on a leash, otherwise they will chase after other animals. They show absolutely no fear; it is the hunting instinct within them. As a result, they can seriously hurt themselves or other animals.
These dogs love to run and jump and need a lot of playtime. Owners must have enough energy to devote to them, playing Frisbee, fetch and catch and other high energy activities.
Many of their health issues can be associated with lack of exercise. An overweight Jack Russell is subject to heart problems and arthritis.
Other health problems, which are common to the Jack Russell:
Ataxia, this is a condition that attacks the cerebellum and other parts of the nervous causing massive dysfunction in movement and coordination.
Epilepsy, a chronic neurological disorder that provokes seizures.
Cataracts, corneal dystrophy, glaucoma, and deafness, though not specific to Jack Russell, are quite common in all white dogs.
Cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscle is diseased.
Allergies and skin problems.
Jack Russells should never be left alone outdoors, for they tend to run away, sometimes for days on end. Many owners have found their missing dogs emerging from underground burrows. These dogs will chase coyote or other animal underground and remain there until they catch the culprit or die whichever comes first.
While indoors, the Jack Russell Terrier can stand another Jack Russell, usually of the opposite sex but does not like other animals. They will attack and kill gerbils, hamsters, and birds. They can seriously hurt cats and other small dogs.