Pets & Animal Pets & Animal

Is a Jack Russell Terrier Good for Kids?

Jack Russell terriers and children have much in common; they are both energetic and playful. Are they, however, a good match? Not necessarily.

In general, Jack Russells are cheerful, and can be friendly with children. On the other hand, they were bred as hunting dogs, used for chasing foxes and badgers, and are known for being assertive.

Jack Russells will not and should not be expected to endure abusive behavior from children. Try to imagine a two-year-old bigger than you are following you around and attempting to pull your ears, and you can get some idea of what a small dog fears from small children who are not taught to handle it properly. When a dog is cornered and continually harassed, it will finally bite in self-defense. Before getting a puppy it is a good idea to consider the age of your children and whether they are ready to follow some rules of conduct when handling a pet. Waiting until a child is six years old or older before getting a puppy or adult dog is often recommended, although each case is individual.

When planning on getting a Jack Russell Terrier, or any breed, for that matter, plan how you will deal with your child's behavior toward it. Smaller children should be supervised when they are allowed to play with a dog. If you are not able to watch them, place your toddler into his or her playpen and your puppy into his or her crate, or place a barrier across a doorway with the child on one side and the Jack Russell on the other. Think ahead. Does your child regularly bite the ears off his or her toys? Do not wait until it happens; bad behavior should always be prevented so that it never becomes a problem. Children should be taught that a pet is a living creature and not a toy. If the dog does not feel like playing, the child needs to learn to respect that. Of course, any behavior that causes fear or pain is not to be tolerated.

Children and puppies both need to be taught that the adult in charge is the pack leader, so do not give an order for either of them to sit still and then shrug as he or she runs off. If your child or puppy disobeys, then a cooling off period in the playpen or crate is in order. Show and tell your child how properly to treat a puppy. Pet the puppy in front of your child, while explaining that puppies need to be treated gently. Teach your child commands such as, "Be nice," and "No hit." Remember always to enforce your commands. If the child is not behaving in a satisfactory manner, be sure to separate him or her from the puppy until the child can learn more appropriate behavior. If the puppy refuses to sit, gently push his or her hindquarters into a sitting position and hold that position for a few seconds. If your Jack Russell is barking and refuses to hush, gently hold his or her mouth closed for a few seconds, while say, "Hush." Letting both of them know that they cannot get away with unacceptable behavior will help you to keep them playing nicely. If your child continues to harass your dog and the dog is becoming nervous or defensive, seeking out a veterinarian or professional dog training could be the solution. Enjoy your dog.

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