How to Train a Jack Russell Terrier to Walk Beside You on a Leash

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Taking walks with your JRT is a satisfying experience; your dog gets the exercise it needs, and you get to bond with it. However, the experience can be unpleasant for both of you if your dog does not act right during the walks. This is why you need to know how to train a Jack Russell terrier to walk beside you on a leash.

How to Train a Jack Russell Terrier to Walk Beside You on a Leash

You may see dogs walking beside their owners and not pulling on the leash and think it came naturally to them; it did not. It takes training to get your dog to walk beside you or to “heel,” as it is also called. Training it when it is young is preferred; however, if you got your dog when it is older, you can still be able to train it.

An image of a Jack Russell terrier on a red leash

Before you start training your JRT to heel, you need to ensure that you have the equipment you have suited for it. These include:

  • Collar: Since JRTs are small, you should choose a collar that is thin as it is lighter than a wide collar and will not be heavy for your Jack to have around its neck.
  • Harness: If you are looking to eliminate pressure on your dog’s neck, a harness is a great option. To ensure you get the harness in the right size, two of your fingers should be able to fit between the dog and the harness.
  • Leash: Choose between nylon or a leather leash. Rubber and cloth are not as durable. It is also vital to check the type of fastener it has for attaching to the collar and the width and length of the leash.
  • Treats: Fill up on treats that your dog likes. In the beginning, you may have to use more treats; however, with time, when they are better at walking beside you, you will use very few or even zero treats.

Use a Short Leash

When choosing the length of your leash, you have to consider the size of your dog. The leash you get for your JRT will not be proper for a Great Dane.  Your JRT’s leash will be shorter and thinner. Apart from preventing it from getting caught on things as you walk around, it offers excellent control.

You can control where your dog walks and the pace at which it walks. You will be in control and get to ensure your dog is safe. If you want your dog to walk on a particular side, you can be able to guide it to walk on that side.

It also lets your dog know that you are in control and the leader. Therefore, it should follow you.

Start at Home

The best place to start training is at home. This is because it is the one place that the dog knows very well. It is also an excellent place to try walking it when it has a leash and harness.

It is also vital that you start at home so your dog learns its cues. It does not have to be complicated; most people prefer using the word “yes” or making a clicking sound. After you have made that sound, give it a treat. You may have to be a little distance away, so it knows to come and get the treat.

With time, even without the treat, it will come if you make the cue sound or say the word. The leash and teaching cues can be too much for your JRT.  Do not do all of it at the same time or even on the same day; pace yourself. You do not want it to become overwhelmed and lose all your progress.

A Jack Russell terrier being trained to walk beside its owner while on leash

Reinforce Correct Position

After your dog has mastered cues and has gotten used to the harness and collar, it is time to take it outside. It is crucial to ensure that you are holding the leash properly here. Ideally, your Jack should be walking on your left side. This means that you hold the leash with your right hand.

With your right hand holding the leash, your left will be free to give treats to your dog. For every few steps it takes walking beside you, reward it. The side that the dog is on is the side where it receives treats from. This is because you want it to go back to the side it was on previously.

Everything else changes if you or your dog do not like walking on the left side by any chase. At this point, you are teaching your dog the side it should walk on and the benefits of walking on that particular side. Ensure you stick to one position; it is not proper to let it walk on the left one day and walk on the right on the next day.

Teach Focus

Getting dogs to focus on a single task can be difficult, especially when it comes to Jacks. Because of their energy levels, they like to run around, chasing things that fascinate them, including other dogs and cats. At this point, you have to teach them to focus on one thing. You can do this by:

  • Avoid telling it what to do. Everything else will seem like it is more fun compared to you.
  • Start with accessible places such as your yard, then build on to areas where your dog seems to be more distracted.
  • Reward focus

Regarding dogs and training, it is not a one size fits all kind of situation; while giving commands may work for one dog, it may not work for another. This is why you should observe your dog as you are training it. If one way of doing something is not working for you, try other methods. If none work, you may have to bring in a professional trainer.

An image of a man showing how to train a jack russell terrier to walk beside you on a leash

Bonus Tips

As mentioned, some things may work for some dogs and not for others. You may have to incorporate other things that other dog owners do not need to do. Other things that may be important when teaching your dog to walk beside you include:

  • Lunges: If your dog tends to lunge at someone or something during your walks, you may want to increase the distance between your dog and that object or person. It helps if you have a treat handy to distract them.
  • Pulls: At some point, your dog will want to lead you in a particular direction. If you notice it is doing this, do not move at all. Stand your ground until it realizes you will not let it lead you to the place it wants to go.
  • Exercise: Jack Russells are energetic dogs requiring regular exercise to help deal with the excess energy. You may have to play games with your dog or go on runs with it before you begin your training on how to walk correctly. If you choose to run to the park, you can train it on the way back home.
  • Barks: Most of the time, your dog may bark at anything and everything during your walks. This also indicates a lot of energy, and you may have to exercise it before you start training.


As a dog owner, you require a lot of patience when teaching commands or getting your dog to learn how to walk beside you during walks. It may end up frustrating, and if you have done everything you can and are still not getting it, it may be time to get a professional on it.