Jack Russell Terrier: The Smartest Small Dog in the World

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When it comes to giving the smartest small dog honors to one breed, opinions will vary, but many consider the friendly and energetic Jack Russell Terrier to be on top of the heap. They were originally bred to hunt foxes, an animal well known for intelligence, so any dog that has a job that requires them to be a quick thinker is going to do well in learning other tasks.

However, if you do a search for the smartest dog in the world, you won’t find this excellent breed on any of the official AKC lists, because the Jack Russell Terrier is not an official American Kennel Club recognized breed. Jack Russell owners do not wish to dilute the breed’s natural hunting abilities, and therefore, are reluctant to seek recognition.

If you're serious about wanting a calm, well-behaved little dog... this is the training method for you.

There’s no need for official sanctions when there is lots of evidence of the Jack Russell’s crowd-pleasing antics. Thanks to online videos, you can watch them in action as they perform all sorts of tricks ranging from the standard to the amazing. One video features a cute little Jack Russell named Jesse who does all sorts of household chores for his human companion. Accompanied by a musical track, Jesse turns on the bedroom light, opens the shades, turns on the coffee machine, brings the newspaper indoors, closes kitchen cabinets, puts trash in the garbage can, puts his bowl into the dishwasher, cleans the window, opens and closes the front door, pulls off his owner’s jacket, shoes and socks and even gives her a back massage!

Useful Dog Tricks performed by Jesse (2010)

Jesse’s owner makes it clear that she uses positive reinforcement to teach him all of these neat tricks. You can see her giving him treats on occasion. Now, is training a dog like this really that easy? Yes and no. You’ll need to be aware of the breed’s personality and natural behaviors before beginning a training regimen.

While Jack Russells are smart, they are also known to have short attention spans. This means that they will get bored quickly when teaching them new tricks. The best technique is to only teach them one trick at a time so that they only have one thing to focus on. You’ll have more success with several 5-minute training sessions than trying to teach them something in one long session. You’ll also want to start out with teaching them the basic commands of “sit,” “stay” and “speak.” Once your pet has gotten the basic commands mastered, they will be ready to learn some cool tricks.

The positive reinforcement method means that you reward your dog when he performs an action correctly. Rewards should be in the form of food/toy treats and verbal praise that doesn’t involve any treats. This teaches your dog to obey your commands whether or not he is being given a treat.

Jack Russell Terriers are highly energetic and will do best with substantial outdoor activity. Sometimes they are referred to as “a big dog in a small dog body.” They require careful training during their puppy stage to ensure that:

  • Inside the house, they don’t become destructive, and
  • Outside the house, during all their activities with you their owner, they become accustomed to following your lead.

Fortunately these dog’s learning ability is unimaginably good and they will understand everything you want. The Puppy Training videos provided by The Online Dog Trainer cover all the basics, plus there is a separate series with more than 60 videos that follows a single dog being trained from scratch. Read our article about all this to learn more.

Jack Russell Terriers make great companions as long as you realize that they need constant stimulation and exercise. Their individual nature sometimes causes them to be moody and withdrawn. During these times, it’s best to leave them be until they are ready for attention again. As an owner, they will like it if you keep a clean and orderly home, because they are dogs that love to be clean. In addition to being the smartest small dog in the world, this is a feisty little dog that you will quickly bond with while sharing hours of playful fun.

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