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

Effective
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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.
Recommend training method?

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

Effective
0 Votes
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?
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Written by Coral Drake

Published: 01/24/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Bentley
Jack Russell
10 Weeks
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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
842 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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Bubba and Tickle
Jack Russell Terrier
8 Weeks
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Bubba and Tickle
Jack Russell Terrier
8 Weeks

Two brothers!!

Should we be crate training them in separate crates?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello! If they get along and aren't being territorial while in a crate together, you can crate them together. I have had customers over the years who crate train littermates together without any issues. But the second they start fighting in there, you will want to separate them.

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Question
Beanie
Jack Russell Terrier
3 Months
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Question
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Beanie
Jack Russell Terrier
3 Months

Hi,
My partner and I would like some advice on how to stop our 3 months old puppy JRT stop biting and nipping, especially while he is playing. We understand that he is exploring with his mouth, that's why we got him a lot of toys to chew on and get him outside 4-5 times a day on average.
As he is still not vaccinated fully, we can't let him meet other dogs/humans.
The biggest problem is that he considers my partner as a play toy and charges towards her with full-on excitement and starts biting her and her clothes. We think he doesn't consider her as a pack leader(or above him in hierarchy).

Any suggestions and recommendations are warmly welcome.
Thank you,
Alen and Lea

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alen, Hello Carlotta, Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when he attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if he makes a good choice. If he disobeys your leave it command, use the Out command from the second article linked below to make him leave the area as a consequence. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning Leave It, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The Out method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just playing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area, is an especially good command for biting your partner. Check out the section on Using Out to Deal with Pushy Behavior for how to calmly enforce that command once it's taught. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Go ahead and check out the article linked below on finding a good puppy class once you feel it's safe to do so - no class will be ideal but here's what to shoot for: There is also information in this article about timing and safety tips for younger puppies. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ When pup gets especially wound up, he probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help him calm down and rest. Practicing regular obedience commands or having pup earn what they get by performing commands like Sit and Down before feeding, petting, tossing a toy, opening the door for a walk, ect... can also help stimulate pup mentally to increase calmness and wear them out. Commands that practice focus, self-control, and learning something a bit new or harder than before can all tire out puppies. Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep working at it. Finally, below are some class videos if you wish to begin some training at home before you can join a class to help with trust and respect, as well as communication with pup. Puppy Class videos: Week 1, pt 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnhJGU2NO5k Week 1, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-1-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 2, pt 1 https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-2-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 2, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-2-part-2-home-jasper-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 3, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-3-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 3, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-3-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 4, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-4-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 4, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-4-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 5, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-5-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 5, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-5-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 6, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-6-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 6, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-6-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1-0 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Winston
Jack Russell
13 Weeks
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Winston
Jack Russell
13 Weeks

Our Jack Russell is 13 weeks,myself and partner took him out his first walk first 2 days together and he enjoyed his walk, when we have tired to take him out in his own he doesn’t want to go and cries/shakes sits and not interested in any enticement we do to encourage him to walk. He is scared of all traffic noises and bins but is ok with people and other dogs. He has also started being aggressive and trying to bite at night and doesn’t take notice of any distraction or firm no as he seems to be in a ‘zone’. We haven’t crate trained him though he has a pen where he sleeps fine tho doesn’t spend much time there during the day,I’m wondering if we should have crate trained him and how do we help him not to be so anxious/stressed.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kerrie, First, the fear of being outside actually shows that pup needs to be taken out a lot more, not less. Start with simply sitting outside with him for 30-60 minutes at a time at least, each day. Practice tricks and commands with treats, play games you can do on a leash, like short range fetch and tug, scatter treats for him to find (but make sure that grass or area hasn't been treated for pesticides). Whenever he acts brave, curious, or calm around something new - like a car passing or new noise - reward with a treat before he reacts fearfully. - you want pup to associate them with good things. Check out the free PDF e-book download, AFTER You Get Your Puppy, that you can download below. Don't worry about what you haven't done with socialization, but focus on the tips for how to help pup adjust in the future. While socially distancing, a long leash and outside interactions can be a great way to help pup adjust to things like people, a six foot leash and walking lots of places - starting by simply sitting with pup in a new area and acting confident, while rewarding pup's good responses, works well for things like noises. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads For the biting, I do recommend crate training pup, since many pups get especially wound up when overtired, and often need a space to go rest and calm down - give a dog food stuffed chew toy in the crate during these times. You can use an exercise pen with this at first, but pup will eventually out grow that if they get big enough. If you choose to crate train, check out the Surprise method linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate/ I also recommend teaching Out and Leave It though. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Regular obedience and trick training to build trust, respect, focus and to simulate pup mentally can help with some anxiety. Teaching things like agility - where pup is exercising but also overcoming new things, and socializing pup are all good things to help with confidence in the long run. Pup temporarily having a hard time with something a bit new isn't always bad - as long as you can help pup work through it through regular exposure and practice - that can ultimately teach pup how to be more adaptable as an adult, rather than avoiding those things. The goal is to make sure it's not so hard that pup can't progress and improve with help, taking things a step at a time, and rewarding pup for successes. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Rosie
Jack Russell Terrier
10 Years
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Rosie
Jack Russell Terrier
10 Years

She needs a knee operation and has to be caged for 2 months. Can you help me with some tips to get her used to the crate again.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

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Coco
Jack Russell Terrier
11 Weeks
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Coco
Jack Russell Terrier
11 Weeks

She’s keeps jumping up at the sofa when I’m sitting there and when I say No for her to get down she barks back at me and try’s to bite

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
842 Dog owners recommended

Hello Meena, It sounds like pup is trying to play and is barking and biting for attention. I recommend teaching pup some alternate behaviors to help redirect them during those times. Feeding pup part of their meals in dog food stuffed chew toys, like kongs can also help pup get their need to play and entertainment met more without requiring as much effort from you. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Free PDF e-book download, AFTER You Get Your Puppy, at the link below if you click on the puppy picture that says AFTER You Get Your Puppy. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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