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You’ve barely had a minute to stop and take a breath since you brought your Jack Russel Terrier home. He’s certainly lived up to their reputation for being energetic, fearless and intelligent. It’s fair to say he loves charging around the house and playing with you all. In fact, he loves it so much he doesn’t even want to leave to go to the toilet. Now you knew toilet training him was going to have to take place, but you didn’t realise quite how many accidents you would have to clean up in the meantime.
Potty training your Jack Russel Terrier is essential. Firstly, you don’t want to have gingerly take your first few steps into the kitchen each morning in case you’re going to step in an accident. You also don’t want your young children or other pets coming into contact with any harmful bacteria.
Fortunately, potty training your Jack Russel is relatively straightforward, it just takes persistence. The first thing you need to do is get him into a consistent routine. Once you have done that, you just need to reinforce training with incentives. Like most dogs, Jack Russel Terriers have a soft spot for anything they can eat. So food will play an important role in training.
If he’s a puppy he should be a fast learner and eager to please. As a result, you could see progress in just a few days to a week. However, if he’s older and had years of going to the toilet wherever he wants, then you may have your work cut out for you. It could be several weeks until training is complete. Get this training right, however, and you won’t have to worry about taking him to friends' and families' houses again.
Before you can start training, you will need to collect a few bits. The first thing to do is find a close-by potty spot. You need to be able to get there easily throughout the day.
Then you will need to stock up on tasty treats or break his favorite food into small pieces. A clicker will also be required for one of the methods below.
Once you have all that, just bring patience and some antibacterial spray, then work can begin!
The Routine Method
You need to feed him his meals at the same times each day. This will get his body clock into a regular routine. You can then predict when he is likely to need the toilet and take him out accordingly.
Keep his water topped up
It is also important you keep his water bowl topped up. Just like the step above, this will help get him into a regular routine of going for a pee. If he’s dehydrated his toilet habits will be unpredictable.
As soon as he's up in the morning, head outside to the potty location with your Jack Russel. Then, once you have fed him his breakfast, secure him to a leash and take him out again. If he is always outside when he needs to go, he will naturally get into the habit of going to the toilet outside. If he knows he will get to go each morning, he will also find it easier to hold it at night.
Lunch time potty visit
When lunch time comes, secure him to a leash and take him back to the potty. If he knows he will get to go each lunch time, holding it in the morning will be much easier.
Evening potty time
Once he has had dinner, wait 15 to 20 minutes or so and then take him out to the toilet again. You may also want to take him out again before bed. In fact, if he’s a puppy he may need to go out at several other points throughout the day. The logic to this technique is straightforward, if he’s always at the potty when he needs to go, he will quickly get into a habit of only going there.
The Verbal Cue Method
Take him out to the potty regularly each day. Wait until he’s just about to go or going and then give a ‘potty time’ command. Jack Russel Terriers can learn hundreds of different commands, so you can use any word or phrase you like. Give the instruction in a playful, upbeat tone.
When he’s going about his business, try not to stare. This will only make him feel uncomfortable, so turn away and try to give him some privacy.
As soon as he’s finished his business, go over and give him a generous reward. You can give him treats, verbal praise and even play with a toy. The happier he feels, the more likely he is to repeat the behavior again.
A clicker is a fantastic way to communicate with your Jack Russel Terrier. Simply click whenever he behaves correctly or performs a trick as you would like, then offer him a treat. Used correctly, this can speed up the learning process. So click and treat once he’s been to the potty.
Now practice using your command every time you take him out to the potty. After a while, your instruction will be a trigger that automatically makes him need the toilet. You can then use it whenever you want to take him out or need him to go. Then once he’s fully got the hang of it, you can gradually phase out the treats.
The Attractive Potty Method
Make sure you take him to the same spot each day. If he’s been there before he will feel more relaxed and likely to go there again. Also, try and choose somewhere that is relatively close and not too busy.
If he seems nervous and unsure about going, wipe some of yesterday’s toilet visit down in your chosen potty spot. If he can smell he’s already been there, he’s much more likely to go there again.
Make sure you look away and give him some privacy when he is going about his business. Jack Russell Terriers may seem confident, but just like humans they like having some privacy during such moments.
Make sure he always gets a generous reward when he’s gone to the toilet where you want him to. Do this consistently and he will begin to associate going to the potty outside with positive consequences. This is precisely the incentive he needs to make it habit.
Clean up accidents
It is important you clean up any accidents thoroughly. In fact, use antibacterial spray. If he can smell he’s used that spot as a toilet before he’s more likely to have another accident there again.
Written by James Barra
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/20/2018, edited: 01/08/2021