Dog Agility and the Jack Russell Terrier
To those that only know this active breed by common stereotypes, it might sound like it’s more work than fun. Then you see them run with a handler that has tapped into that drive, energy and focus to develop one of the fiercest competitors and your jaw drops.
This breed actually loves to work and play making dog agility one of the best avenues to stimulate their minds and bodies. They have been bred to work alongside foxhounds in the chase of the red fox. They have a ton of courage as is necessary to face down a fox in his hole and keep him there or flush him as the handler dictates. This means they have to be willing to back down when asked. Not a trait you may associate with these scrappy little dogs.
Because of the breeding to make these successful hunting dogs, they are both intelligent and athletic able to outsmart the fox, hold it, and release the hold. This is teamwork, exactly what you need in dog agility. There is a catch to the terrier. They also have to be able to act on their own and not take flack from the other hunting dogs or the fox. This is the trait that they are most known for and the one that can make training challenging. Pair that with their high sensitivity that yields them to be easily offended and you will understand why they respond best to positive attitudes and training.
It is said they will turn themselves inside out to please their handler, but the handler must also be more interesting than whatever else is going on around them. The work also has to have value for them to stay engaged. They are praise junkies and most are highly food motivated, though praise usually carries more weight for the Jack Russell. You have to careful with your own attitude when working around them to avoid disapproval toward them that can cause a complete shut down. They will walkout on their handler if they feel unappreciated. On the flip side, this little dog will give everything they have when you find how to keep them happy and playful.
Just like all breeds, they have their strengths and weakness. Each dog and each handler must learn how to communicate and interact in a way that grows and matures the relationship and partnership. This is what produces a team that lights the course on fire.