Jack Russells/Biting


My Jack Russell just turned 1 year old & he has become more aggressive over the past month.  Now over the holiday's he has bit my daughter (20 yrs old# & myself.  Both times were following an event at our house of which we had a house full of people for.  My daughter was 1st on Xmas night, he threw up a little bit so my daughter went to pick him up so my husband could clean it up & he bit her.  The 2nd time was New Years day I found him licking a toothpick that had fallen on the floor.  When I went to pick it up he snarled at me so I stood up & told him no & pointed at him & he jump up & latched onto & bit my thumb.  Now, he has a liver shunt which we were told this could make him a little edgy & he has not been fixed & we were told that may help too.  I am looking to get as many informed opinions as I can on this.  Please advise how you think is best to deal with this.  THANK YOU

Hi Rebecca,
I answered this a week ago but it never registered, sorry not sure why it bounced back.
I believe you've already answered a part of your own question - yes absolutely the crowd and loud hectic environment can cause your dog to act out. Jacks are pretty sensitive to all their surroundings and get very (overly) excited and stressed when their "space" is occupied or taken over by things or people they can't control.  It's just the way they "protect" their environment. Having said that, it's NOT OK that they bite... anyone/ever.
I know it's not often that you have that many people in your house but next time you do, it's probably better if you remove  him from the stress and stimulation - just for his sake and peace of mind.
I don't know when he got the liver shunt, you didn't mention if it was a recent change, but if it was, he most definitely could be feeling uncomfortable and protective - you know how WE feel when we don't feel good (last thing you want to deal with is a bunch of people).
Lastly, ABSOLUTELY neutering him will bring him down quite a few notches on the aggression; intact males are very protective and can be aggressive in times of stress.  
I'm glad you picked up the toothpick, that could have killed him!
Now that it's calm and quieter I bet his disposition has turned back to normal, but neutering should be your number one priority with him as well as some more behavior training.
You were correct when you told him NO, but saying it in a LOW, firm, loud voice works better than a panicky shrill (not saying this is what you did), and the MOST IMPORTANT part (which takes time) is to learn his "signs" of turning from calm to aggressive. The correction has to be absolutely immediate after the offense. The SECOND you see him even THINKING of getting that way, its up to you to stop it. Use your voice and your body to move forward toward him and use the corrective word... ("no" is so overused that it's a good idea to use a different corrective word only when dealing with aggression). Don't use his name or "no".  Act very very fast with the correction so he understands what you're correcting. The longer the time span between offence and correction is critical. Anything after a few seconds will be futile and confusing to the dog.
It takes time in cases like these because your dog is not generally aggressive.
Please get him neutered and have patience, he's still young and trainable.
I wish you both nothing but the best!!! Good luck!  

Jack Russells

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Carol F


Questions on "Jack" Russell Terriers pertaining to their health, well being, general questions on breed, types, size, shape, health, personalities, behavior problems, genetics, so called standard, what to look for when purchasing, and if you would be a good match with this wonderful and unique dog. Too many times, people buy jack puppies because they are absolutely adorable, and then a few months down the road they own this dog that they know nothing about and haven't prepared or trained for. I love the breed and everything about them and hope to provide some help, education and advice to current and prospective owners. I am a veterinary technician, dog trainer and breeder of Jack Russells.


I own four Jack Russells and I have been working with dogs for 30 years. My personal interest is in helping educate people about the very special qualities of this breed. I advocate education and research of the breed before you buy one, they are wonderful pets if suited with the right person/family. Do your homework first! I can help you determine if you are a good match with this breed. I want people to know also that there are two types of Jack Russells, the Parson hunter with long legs and the Shortie or Russell Terrier and their very distinct differences. I also hope to allay fears about their CRAZY reputations - which is not always the case. ~*~*~*IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ*~*~*~ PLEASE NOTE: I DO NOT ENDORSE THE SALE OF ANY JACK RUSSELLS OR JACK RUSSELL PUPPIES THAT MAY BE ADVERTISED ON THIS PAGE. BEWARE OF PUPPY MILLS OR OTHER PLACES THAT SELL MANY DIFFERENT DOGS OVER THE INTERNET. ALSO I DO NOT ENDORSE ANY VIDEOS OR TRAINING TAPES THAT ARE ADVERTISED ON THIS PAGE. I WILL BE HAPPY TO HELP YOU PICK OUT A REPUTABLE TRAINER/VIDEO SERIES OR EVEN PUPPIES IF PRIVATELY ASKED. I DO NOT ENDORSE ANY SALES ADVERTISEMENTS ON THIS PAGE.

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Veterinary Technician - Newbury College 1982 - 1985

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