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18 Jun 2004

Digging Jack
I have a Jack Russel bitch and just love her to bits. She is very much spoiled. The only problem is that she recently discovered that she could dig her way through under the gate. We have a huge garden with more than enough space for her, and she stays inside if we are home. But as soon as we leave she starts digging, and creates havoc in the neighbourhood - as she is not very friendly toward strangers and strange dogs. Thats also another question - when ever we take her walking she always charges other people and pick fights with other dogs. How can we get her to just not be such a hooligan :-)
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Expert
CyberVet
cybervet

01 Jan 0001

Hi Ellie
I suspect that your dog is lonely and bored. Dogs don't cope well with being left alone as they are social pack animals and need company. If you do have another dog, then it may be that she is too attached to you. Either way she is suffering from separation anxiety. To keep herself occupied she is escaping and roaming about which is self-rewarding as she meets other people and dogs (even if she is "rude" to them) and may be scaveinging for food as well. Most of all you need to make sure your boundaries are dog-proof - lay concrete under the gate to prevent digging if you have to. At the same time you need to treat the cause of her behaviour first: If she is lonely then get her a companion (sometimes a cat will do, but beware of getting another dog that you won't have time for and that will copy her escaping behaviour), arrange a dog-sitter or take her to a friend or relative during the day. If she's bored then get her lots of interesting chewy toys (e.g. cowhooves, rawhide, stuffed Congs etc.), which you can rotate, collecting them into a crate which she can unpack herself each day. If she's very attached to you then you need to give her a little less "spoiling" and teach her to be more independent while you're at home. Unfortunately aggression towards other dogs is common in all terriers, especially Jack Russells, but it is made worse when they are not socialised at an early age (from 8 weeks old) with a variety of other dogs. Sometimes the aggression is just frustration because they can't get to the other dog to play with it. However this can be improved slowly by introducing her (on neutral territory) to one very docile and sociable dog at a time. You may need the help of a behaviourist to do this at first. Sometimes it isn't worth the time and effort and it may be easier to manage the problem and just ignore her when she's "rude", keeping her on a lead and walking away from potential fights.
Karen Gray-Kilfoil
ANIMAL BEHAVIOURIST
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