How to Calm a Jack Russell Terrier

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If you have ever owned a Jack Russell Terrier, then you understand that calming them down is not easy. They are super agile and always want to spend their energy without limits. That is why I prepared a comprehensive guide to help you understand how to calm a Jack Russell Terrier.

How to Calm a Jack Russell Terrier

You can calm your Jack Russell Terrier using several techniques. However, even for the most experienced dog enthusiasts, this can be frustrating at times. While it might not be easy to change their natural independent and hyperactive nature, calming them is definitely doable.

Graphic image of two Jack Russell Terriers with a text explaining how to calm Jack Russells

Some Jack Russells are calmer than others. Nevertheless, most of them do not show signs of calming down until they get ten or even twelve years old. Although old age can help dilute their temperament, some stay hyperactive well beyond their prime years.

These baskets of energy only have two modes for a better part of their lifetime: they are either asleep or fully active. I recommend the techniques and methods discussed below to control your Jack Russell Terrier’s Hyperactivity.

Begin to Train Your Jack Russell Terrier at a Young Age

Since Jack Russell Terriers are super intelligent and independent, they may sometimes outsmart you in some ways. For this reason, I recommend that you train them when they are still puppies and let them know who leads the park.

If you train them to aptly follow your commands from the time they are born, the dog will grow to respect that chain of command well into adulthood. This way, you will have a good relationship with them since you will be able to correct them whenever they go over the bar.

You could involve treats and praise whenever they follow your instructions to remain calm. Sometimes even your Jack Russell terrier food is enough to motivate them.

Dogs use my reactions to their behavior to judge between the good and the bad. When you show good intentions when they are calm, your canine companion will know that being calm is good and vice versa. 

Older dog trying to calm a Jack Russell Terrier puppy

Involve Your Jack Russell Terrier in Regular Exercise

Regular exercises have also been shown to help calm down most dog breeds. I recommend that you set aside at least an hour per day to give your Jack Russell both physical and mental workouts. Physical exercise ensures they exert energy while mental exercises challenge their minds and help them quit their wild instincts.

There are many exercises you can partake in. I recommend the following three for a start: 

  • Daily walks
  • Mental Stimulation like puzzle toys, scenting and nose games
  • High-intensity short bursts like a tug of war, stair exercise, flirt pole among others

As I mentioned earlier, Jack Russell’s are hyperactive and can exercise for a long period of time. That is it is important to always time the exercise sessions. You should only stick to exercises that are appropriate to the dog’s age and energy level. 

Apply the Calm Hold Technique on your Jack Russell Terrier 

The calm hold technique works for most dog breeds. To do this, you need to gently put your hand on the shoulder of your pet and hold still without making eye contact. You can tell them something like “relax” in an unemotional tone – or better not say anything. 

This technique will help him release any tension and anxiety. Your unemotional voice or silence is enough communication to make your Jack Russell rethink their next action.

If need be, you can use your other hand to grab your dog by the collar to hold them in place. Once they are relaxed and calm, you can let the dog free. 

Keep your Jack Russell Terrier Away from Small Pets and Children 

Children under the age of six and small pets like cats and rabbits have swift and unpredictable movements that can trigger the excitement levels of a Jack Russell Terrier. This dog breed sees anything of this sort as an invite to chase and play.


Naturally, Jack Russells have a hunter’s instinct. Seeing a cat or rabbit (or even a child) running around can trigger the dog’s instinct to pursue.

Only let toddlers near predator dogs like Jack Russell Terriers when you are around to monitor them. Children, out of curiosity, can provoke your dog. That kind of provocation could cause an accident with the child ending up on the casualty side.

Use the Gentle Belly Rub on Your Jack Russell Terrier

This technique also works perfectly almost in most pets as it is with humans. Compassionately rubbing the belly of your dog for about five to ten minutes has a sensational ability to calm him down. When done correctly, the dog might even go to slumber.

However, if you do not do the gentle belly rub the right way; you could make you Jack Russell more excited and trigger another episode of endless play.

You could try this technique when you do not want your stubborn dog to interfere with your activities. Try it when you want to make a phone call or even when you need to catch some sleep. 

Use the Gentle Muzzle Rub on Your Jack Russell Terrier

This technique yields the same results as the gentle belly rub. The only difference is that you will need your Jack Russell to trust your intentions. You must be close enough with your dog to be able to rub its nose otherwise they can get defensive and attack you.

If you don’t have the trust of your dog, they may bark at you or even run away. Or the canine may even try to bite you (this is highly unlikely though). Do not try this if you are not sure of whether the pet trusts you or not.

That being said, rubbing the nose, or the stop area (the muzzle bridge between the eyes) has a perfect calming effect on a Jack Russell Terrier.

Give your Jack Russell Terrier Chewing Toys

When idle, a Jack Russell can be an earnest seeker. Giving him something to chew or play with will keep him busy and occupied while also boosting his dental health. Chewing toys will help the dog pass a lot of time rather than cause trouble around the house.

Chewing has been shown to relieve your dog of stress and anxiety. When chewing, the brain releases hormone endorphins that make dogs happy and calm. 

Aggressive or destructive chewing can also be a sign that your dog is stressed out especially due to lack of physical exercise. So make sure you can figure out the distinction. A great game that you can play with them is a tug of war with a suitable interactive toy.

Keep Your Jack Russell Terrier Away from Other Active Dogs

As much as your dog needs to socialize and make friends, sometimes it is better to keep them from other aggressive dogs. This is because other dogs can make them hyperactive even when they are calm. If you are looking for a another dog it’s important to ensure that a second dog is a good breed for your Terrier.

Jack Russell Terrier playing outdoors

Given their hyperactive temperament, a Jack Russell Terrier will grab any opportunity to play even when they are calm. To avoid this, try to keep them from other active dogs. 

It is, however, good to introduce your dog to other dogs in the neighborhood. You can identify a nearby dog park and gradually assimilate him.

Play Your Jack Russell Terrier Therapeutic Music

Who said dogs do not respond to fine tunes? The calming effect of good music is not just confined to humans. There are specific music genres meant for dogs to overcome anxiety, loneliness, stress, boredom, and hyperactivity. 

You can download your dog some soothing dog music and play it to him whenever you need him to be calm. Pet-sitters are even available in video forms. You can possibly get your Jack Russell glued to a screen for a very long time whenever you want them to calm them down.

Introduce your Jack Russell Terrier to the Clicker System

While some people consider it a form of training, the clicker system is an independent artificial method to help contain your dog’s agility and hyperactivity. You can visit your nearest pet store for a clicker and use it to train them through positive reinforcement and association.

Once they know how the clicker works, you two will be on the same page. Whenever you want your Jack Russell to act calmly, you could signal them with eye contact and then click the clicker. Always remember to reward them for doing the correct thing. 

Seek Medical Help for Your Jack Russell 

If, after applying all the above techniques your Jack Russell dog cannot be calm, there could be underlying health issues behind his hyperactivity. Or the problem could be on his diet. Some of the health conditions that may cause your dog to be restlessly hyperactive are hyperthyroidism and allergy.

Although the health problem is improbable to boost the activity in a Jack Russell, you should not ignore it. Always stay in touch with your veterinarian because they could quickly identify such occurrences. 


While Jack Russell Terriers are active and intelligent dogs, sometimes their agility and energy levels go overboard. Because it is in their nature, you cannot take it out of them. You can use the above methods top key your dog calm. Also, remember to contact your vet for more suggestions.