The highly energetic Jack Russell terriers are strong, hardy and intelligent little dogs. Known by the American Kennel Club as Parson Russell terriers, they love to play and romp, and become frustrated if they don’t get enough exercise. Teaching your Jack Russell puppy to fetch a ball will give the dog a way to expend excess energy, get plenty of activity both outdoors and indoors, and provide mental stimulation. Begin training at an early age, such as around 7 weeks old, while the puppy is still manageable and has not yet reached the hyperactive stage.
Before you can train your Jack Russell puppy to fetch, you must teach the dog to enjoy playing with a ball. This will enable you to use playing ball as a reward for training throughout the dog’s lifetime and greatly reduce your reliance on food and treats. Show young puppies that the ball means fun by playing with them gently and rolling the ball around. Make a huge fuss of the game and give the puppy lots of love and praise, so the dog learns to associate the ball with playtime.
Put your Jack Russell terrier puppy on a leash and sit on the floor with them. Roll the ball around from hand to hand until the puppy gets the idea that it is time to play. Allow the dog to chase the ball and pick it up, then draw the puppy gently back towards you using the leash. Once the the dog becomes accustomed to the game, start to give the command “Fetch” as the dog runs after the ball. Give plenty of praise and reward the dog with a treat each time the dog chases and fetches the ball. Do this every day for at least a week, for not more than 15 minutes at a time to avoid tiring the puppy or allowing boredom to set in.
Once the Jack Russell terrier puppy is fetching the ball and bringing it back to you to throw again without a leash, start to teach the drop command. As the puppy runs round with the ball in their mouth, call the dog to you and when the dog comes, give the command “Drop” or “Give” and swap the ball for a treat. Alternatively, use two balls, so the puppy will drop one ball to go after the other. Always give plenty of love and praise so the puppy knows they have done well. This will teach the dog to bring the ball directly to you instead of dropping it elsewhere for you to pick up.
Teach your Jack Russell terrier puppy to hold the ball, using a ball small enough to fit in their mouth. When the dog brings the ball back to you, instead of commanding them to drop it, give the command “Hold” and place your hand gently under the jaw for a second. Repeat the command to reinforce the idea, then allow the dog to drop the ball and reward the Jack Russell with a treat and plenty of praise. Practice this several times a day until the puppy understands to hold the ball until you give the command to drop it or give it to you.
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