How to Play Tug of War With a Jack Russell Terrier

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Jack Russell Terriers are energetic and hyperactive dogs with high exercise requirements. Learning how to play tug of war with a Jack Russell Terrier will help it use up the excess energy while strengthening the bond between you and the dog.

How to Play Tug of War With a Jack Russell Terrier

The tug of war game is a dog game that provides both physical and mental stimulation to Jack Russell Terriers. It is an intense game that will help your JRT burn calories and remain physically fit.

An image of how to play tug of war with Jack Russell terrier

However, JRTs are possessive and aggressive dogs, and a lack of proper training can lead to bites and injuries. The following rules and training tips will help you play with your JRT safely without the dog being aggressive or dominating.

Choose a Toy

There are many types of interactive toys, and you have to go for one specifically designed for tugging. Keeping in mind that JRTs are fairly small dogs, go for a small and lightweight toy that the dog can easily bite and run with.

The construction material should be sturdy enough to withstand biting while flexible and malleable not to hurt the dog’s teeth. Keeping in mind the aggression of JRTs, the toy should have a handle so you can grasp it away from the dog’s mouth.

Teach Your JRT the Release Command

The hyperactivity and strong hunting instincts of a JRT might make it challenging to end the game when the time runs out or when you feel exhausted. The territorial and possessive nature of JRTs might also make them aggressive when you try to take the toy away from them, thinking it’s theirs.

The best way to prevent this is first to teach your dog a command to end the game, such as the drop it command. 

Usually, this will let the dog know that the toy belongs to you, and it should drop when you command it. This command is especially important when the dog is hyper, and things are getting out of hand.

Choose a Playing Spot

It is advisable to pick a designated spot where you’ll be playing the tug of war game with your JRT. Choosing a specific playing spot ensures the dog doesn’t start playing whenever it sees you carrying the toy.

An image of Jack Russell terrier playing with his toy

The strong prey drive of JRTs makes them strong tuggers, and it is advisable to choose a ground where the dog will have sufficient grip to prevent slippage and injuries. The best surface for the game is a dry lawn, rubber flooring, or carpet.

Start the Game

Keeping in mind that JRTs want to dominate, it’s advisable to start the game yourself so you can set the tone. For the best results, you should train your dog that the game starts when you want and ends when you want.

If the toy is not appealing to the dog or the dog is not in the playing mood, play with the toy alone to catch the dog’s attention. Usually, JRTs are curious dogs and will want to know what is happening.

When the dog approaches, you can deny the toy by pushing it away or lifting the toy in the air to raise the excitement and curiosity of the dog even higher. When the excitement is high enough, you can then lower the toy and start playing.

Keep the Toy Near the Ground

In most cases, JRTs will put the front part of the body low on the ground and the rear part up in the air when playing. This posture and the sheer size of a Russell Terrier make it necessary for you to maintain the toy in a position near the ground to avoid putting excessive pressure on its neck or spine.

Move the Toy From Side to Side

Keeping the toy right in front of your body makes the dog jump right on you, causing sudden deceleration. This deceleration makes the game less interesting, making the dog exhausted and bored after a short time. There are also higher chances that the dog will paw at you.

Instead, hold the toy by the side of your body and then move it from side to side. Usually, this movement will let the dog move its head naturally from side to side as it tries to follow the toy before jumping on it.

Let the Dog Win

JRTs have a strong hunting instinct and high instinctive intelligence and are determined to catch their prey. That means the dog will be trying to catch the toy and get it from your hands as you move it from side to side.

If you allow the dog to catch and go with the toy all the time, the game will not be interesting, and the dog will be bored. On the other hand, if you make the dog miss the toy or deny it after catching it all the time, you can make it frustrated and aggressive.

You will therefore need to evaluate your dog’s emotions and determine when to make the dog miss the toy, when to withhold the toy after a successful catch, and when to allow the dog to catch and go with the toy.

Do Not Leave the Dog With the Toy

Depending on the level of training, you can tell your dog ‘you win’ when you allow it to catch and take the toy from your hands. However, do not leave the toy with the dog once the game is over.

Usually, the possessive nature of JRTs makes them think the toy is theirs when you leave it with them, making them aggressive the next time you take the toy from them. The dog can also get used to the toy, and it will no longer find it interesting to play with it.

An image of Jack Russell terrier running with his toy

Benefits of Playing a Tug-Of-War With a Jack Russell Terrier

Although many people play tug-of-war with a JRT to relieve boredom and pass time, the following are some of the health and behavioral benefits of engaging your JRT in a tug-of-war game. 

  • Improves the dog’s mood and behavior: JRTs are energetic dogs and can develop destructive behaviors if they don’t engage in intense exercises that can help them use up the excess energy. Playing this game helps alleviate boredom and improve the dog’s overall behavior.
  • Strengthens the bond: The bond between you and your JRT can become weak, especially if you tend to leave it alone and go out for work. Playing tug-of-war makes the experience enjoyable, strengthening the bond between you.
  • Helps to keep the dog physically fit: JRTs are prone to obesity due to their small sizes. The movement involved in this game helps the dog burn calories and remain physically fit.
  • Helps in training the dog: Considering that you’ll be giving the dog commands such as the take and drop commands, the game can help in the overall training and dog’s command mastering.

Frequently Asked Questions

For How Long Should I Engage My JRT in a Tug of War?

You should engage a JRT in the game for a short time of around 10 to 15 seconds. However, the most crucial thing is to keep the game under your control through commands such as the drop it command. You can also consider taking breaks between sessions to avoid exhausting the dog.

Can I Play Tug-Of-War With a JRT That Has a Neck Problem?

It is not advisable to play tug-of-war with a JRT that has a neck problem as it can lead to additional complications. However, if the neck problem is not severe, you can play while keeping the toy close to the ground and avoiding movements that can make the dog move its head from side to side.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to play tug of war with Jack Russell Terrier will help strengthen the bond between you while keeping the dog physically and mentally fit. It is advisable to keep the game under control through commands such as the drop it commands to prevent the dog from being over-excited.