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.
Recommend training method?

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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Bentley
Jack Russell
10 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bentley
Jack Russell
10 Weeks

My boyfriend and I got our puppy three days ago , we have done just about everything on the list for crate training but I’m having a really hard time because we had to leave him at home in his crate for work. I’m nervous to leave him in there and have him upset and very stressed out. We unfortunately are unable to go home and visit him throughout the day due to our job locations and I’m having a lot of guilt. Is this normal?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Taylor, Most puppies take up to two weeks to adjust to being in the crate. It's important to give them the opportunity to learn to self-sooth and self-entertain in the crate, and you don't want to let him out while he is crying unless he needs to go potty. Instead, wait until he is quiet for a second, then return to him while you practice during the day. Since you are gone for most of the day, you can practice for 30 minutes in the evening and on the weekend. In addition to the methods you have already followed, you can also follow the "Surprise" method from the article I have linked below. It is similar to the Crate for Food method you read but just goes into more details. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Check out the Crate Training method for potty training when you are home as well. Follow those times listed when you are home, and every 2-3 hours with a dog walker at this age while you are home. The general rule is that a puppy can hold their bladders for the number of months they are in age plus one - meaning 3 hours at 2 months, then 4 hours at 3 months, and 5 hours at 4 months. Remember those are the maximum times under ideal circumstances not the ideal times while you are home. Ideally he would go out twice as often as those times while still learning to help him learn faster. When you have to leave be sure to give him a dog food stuffed hollow chew toy, like a Kong. You can even place his food into a bowl, cover it with water, and let it sit out until the food turns to mush, then mix a little peanut butter (Avoid Xylitol- it's toxic) or cheese or liver paste into the mush, then loosely stuff the Kong and freeze it overnight. You can make several of these ahead of time to grab as needed, and even feed him his meals just from Kongs right now if you want to. I am assuming you have something set up for potty training and him being able to go potty while you are gone. The main issue with crating him for that long without you returning is his small bladder. A puppy his age under ideal circumstances cannot hold his bladder for longer than 2.5-3 hours during the day. At night he will be able to go about twice that long if he stays asleep. You will either need to hire a dog walker to come that often to take him potty or set up an indoor potty area for him. If you decide to indoor potty train him, then I suggest setting up an exercise pen, connecting it to the crate so that he can go into the crate to sleep when he chooses to, and placing a disposable real grass pad on the end of the exercise pen furthest from the crate - dogs don't like to eat or sleep near where they potty. Use the Exercise Pen method from the article linked below to teach him to use the grass pad when you are home. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad - the exercise pen method mentions litter box training but you can use a real grass pad instead to better mimic outside potty areas: https://www.freshpatch.com/products/fresh-patch-standard?variant=3477439297¤cy=USD&gclid=CjwKCAjw04vpBRB3EiwA0IieanLFLdgb5wXwlO_UdxdPB08FZAvRvyoRn14MHmLRTe3MQIhVdjCELhoCR8kQAvD_BwE If you intend to train him to potty outside, the ideal scenario is to hire someone to take him potty during the day - to make potty training more effective, rather than starting with grass pads then switching, if you have the option of hiring someone to take him potty. Whatever you do, do not simply leave him in the crate to go potty in there. Dogs have a natural desire to hold their bladders and bowels in a confined space, so he will attempt to keep it clean, will fail because of his age and the length of time he is left in there, then be soiled all day and eventually loose his desire to hold it in a confined space - which will make potty training incredibly difficult for you, since potty training is mostly based on that natural desire to hold it in their 'home'. Assuming you have potty training needs taken care of while you are gone, and are just feeling guilty for leaving him in the crate while you are away - you are not alone! Most pet owners who care for their pets struggle with the idea of leaving their pup in a crate, especially during the early days while pups are still adjusting. One thing that can help is to understand why you are crating your pup. When used correctly crate training help you effectively potty train, it prevents destructive chewing, prevents separation anxiety, prevents boredom and territorial barking (if away from windows and given a food stuffed chew toy), and helps your pup learn to self-entertain, self-sooth, and be calmer in the house. Many dogs die from ingesting things they shouldn't during heavy chewing phases (during teething and later jaw development during the first year), and are given up because of issues that could have been prevented with crate training. A pup that is crate trained while unsupervised and supervised while free during the first 1-2 years of their life can often be trusted out of the crate for the next 10+ years because bad habits were prevented while young. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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