How to Crate Train a Jack Russell Terrier

Medium
2-14 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Jack Russell terriers are painfully cute, endlessly entertaining, and seem to run on pure gasoline. This is a lot of dog in a cute little package. Like most terriers, Russells are highly energetic and prey driven, but Russells seem to pack in more bravado and umph than even the average terrier. Watching your dog run after her ball for hours or spin in circles out of sheer excitement, it may be hard to imagine her settled calmly in a crate. It is true that your dog must be well exercised before she can be expected to spend time calmly in a crate, but even the craziest of Russells can be taught to love their crate time.

Defining Tasks

Teaching your Jack Russell to love her crate depends on making the crate a desirable place to be and gradually increasing time there so that she does not begin to panic and turn her terrier ferocity on the crate or bedding. Terrier owners should be realistic about their dog's capacity for calm and non-destructive behavior, since Jack Russells were bred to kill foxes and have been used ever since for small animal hunting and rodent control. A happy Jack Russell is usually either running or ripping something, so make sure you provide her with things appropriate to destroy like good sturdy chews, things to "kill" like squeaky toys without stuffing and toys with water bottles or plastic crinkles inside. Always observe your dog with any toy or chew to make sure she will not ingest inappropriate material or swallow without chewing.

Getting Started

If your dog expresses any anxiety about the crate, you will need to start very slowly and gradually so as to desensitize her to the crate. Even if your dog is comfortable in the crate, but you have never kept her closed in before, you will need to build time very gradually so as to avoid creating a negative connection with the crate. It is a good idea to have special toys and chews that are only allowed during crate time, so that your dog will associate the crate with good things she can't get any other time. In general, the larger the crate the better for an active dog like the Jack Russel. The exception is if you are potty training, as a too large crate will allow your dog to establish a potty area and a sleeping area.

The Build Crate Time Method

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Step
1
Crates are great
Stock your dog's crate with all kinds of wonderful things, reserving the extra special chews, food toys, or toys that you will use when she is locked in.
Step
2
Come and go freely
Allow your dog to come and go freely for a week or two, until she is resting of her own will in the crate and seems to understand it as a home base.
Step
3
Close and reward
Close the door to the crate while your dog is inside, and give her a fabulous chew or toy. Stay near while she enjoys it for several minutes, then let her out and remove the reward.
Step
4
Continuous practice
Keep practicing as frequently as possible, never extending the time for more than a few minutes, and always reserving the best rewards for crate time.
Step
5
Increase time
Gradually increase time until you can leave your dog in her crate overnight. If at any point your dog cries or seems unhappy, stand near her until she is calm, and then release her. Reduce to several minute increments again until you can build up time without causing anxiety.
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The Rest Time = Crate Time Method

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Step
1
Crate near you
Fill your Russell's crate with comfy blankets and wonderful things. Remove other beds and comfy places so the crate is the best place to sleep. Keep the crate near you so your Russell will want to lay in it.
Step
2
Door open
Leave the crate door open, but encourage your dog to lie in it during sleep times and chew on things inside it as opposed to anywhere else.
Step
3
Close door briefly
Begin closing the crate door for brief periods, providing your dog with extra special chews and toys while in the crate.
Step
4
Longer periods
Increase the periods your dog is in the crate, stepping back to shorter periods if she expresses anxiety.
Step
5
Further from you
Put the crate in its final location, checking on your dog frequently at first to be sure she is still OK closed in away from you.
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The Crate for Food Method

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Step
1
Dog in crate
Put your dog in her crate and give her a food releasing toy that has about half the food she will need. Stay near her so she doesn't feel anxious about being in the crate at this time.
Step
2
Practice and increase time
Keep practicing, still staying near your dog but walking away for brief periods as well. Work up to giving her another food toy after she has finished the first without releasing her from the crate.
Step
3
Increase time with frequent rewards
Gradually increase the time your dog spends in the crate, rewarding intermittently for the length of the time she is crated with food toys, chews, and treats.
Step
4
Reward less
Increase the time your dog spends in the crate without reward, still checking on her frequently.
Step
5
Increase alone time
Increase the time your dog spends alone in the crate until she can spend the night alone without food toys. If she displays anxiety, go back a step and work up time again.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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