Jack Russell terriers aren't big dogs, but they can leave mass destruction in their wake. Separation anxiety, common in the breed, results when your JRT becomes extremely upset when you leave him home alone. He relieves his tension via chewing or constant barking. With patience and commitment, there's a cure.
Jack Russell Terriers
To understand your JRT's separation anxiety, you must understand the nature of your dog. JRTs, bred to hunt vermin, are a bundle of energy and obsessiveness. Your dog needs lots of exercise to work off some of that energy. Bred as a working dog, he also needs a job or he'll find one for himself. That might include digging up your yard searching for rodents. As the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America notes, many owners become overwhelmed by this demanding breed, so many JRTs end up in shelters at young ages.
Dogs exhibiting separation anxiety must do something to relieve the tension experienced when their owner is away. Your dog might bark nonstop, annoying the neighbors, or chew on anything he can get his little teeth on. Since JRTs love to dig, they might decide to discover what's inside your upholstered furniture. He might pee or poop inside, or behave aggressively when he senses you are leaving. Putting on your coat and shoes could trigger this behavior.
What Not to Do
Don't punish your JRT when you come home and find that he's spent the day destroying the house. He won't understand why you're punishing him for something he did hours ago. As the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America points out, your JRT might look "guilty," but that's because he already knows that if there's a mess in the house and you come home, he's in trouble. While some might advise getting another pet to keep your JRT company and relieve separation, that usually doesn't work, especially with a JRT, who typically doesn't especially enjoy the company of other canines. He's attached to you, so there's no substitute.
It won't cure your JRT's separation anxiety overnight, but starting a regular exercise and training regimen usually works in the long run. Take your dog for a long walk every day. Enroll him in obedience classes and practice daily. He must know "come," "sit," "down" and "stay." If there's more than one person in your household, the individual the dog is most attached to should basically ignore the dog for three weeks, according to the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America. The idea is that the dog becomes less dependent on that person.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.