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Keeping A Jack Russell In An Apartment

Jack Russells are working dogs. Small, compact and athletic, they're in their element when outside, with space to run and play - and above all, dig. Jack Russells will do moderately well in an apartment, provided that they are sufficiently exercised and have the company of a human or another dog during the day.

Apartment Life

Surprisingly, inner-city dogs dwelling in apartments often receive more exercise and better care from their owners than suburban dogs cooped up in small yards all day. This is probably because city-dwelling dog owners feel a certain amount of guilt at the thought of their dog's cooped-up lifestyle, and realize that the dog, if living in an apartment, has to be walked.

This is definitely true of Jack Russells as much as any other dog - possibly even more so, as the Jack Russell is definitively a terrier: active, agile, with a propensity to run for miles and dig endlessly (these dogs were bred to keep up with the horses during a fox-hunt, and to tunnel after prey that's gone to ground).

How Will He Cope?

Your Jack Russell will do best in an apartment if he's crate-trained. This means that he's been housetrained using the crate method, which is an extremely efficient means of preventing your dog from soiling in the house.

If your Jack Russell is either less than nine months old (in which case his bladder-holding capacity is that of a puppy, not an adult dog) or still has the odd accident inside, it's best that you don't confine him to a life of solitude for nine hours a day while you're at work. Accidents will happen, and your Jack Russell will be able to tell that he's done something "wrong" (unless he's a very small puppy) and will feel guilt and anxiety. Given enough time and cause, this may eventually translate into full-blown separation anxiety.

What Other Alternatives Are There?

If you're an apartment dweller, presumably you lead a metropolitan lifestyle in the inner city. One incredible bonus of such a lifestyle is the amazing range of companies and businesses catering to the happiness and wellbeing of city dogs.

If you're reluctant to subject your Jack Russell to a life of cooped-up inside living, consider investing in doggy day-care. This is very similar to day-care for children: dogs of all breeds and sizes are brought together to play under experienced supervision. There are activities, snacks and music to entertain and teach them; some facilities even have swimming pools, both for pleasure and for hydrotherapy (for dogs recovering from surgery) at an extra charge. Larger breeds are always separated from smaller breeds to prevent trouble, and there should be a low dog-to-caregiver ratio to ensure your dog's needs are met.

Walk Your Dog, Sir?

An alternative to day-care is to enlist the assistance of a neighborhood dog-walker or dog-sitter. This is someone who will call in during the day to check on your dog, spend time with him, play some games, and take him out for a walk of appropriate length and intensity. Most dog-walkers operate by taking out several dogs at once, so this is a good opportunity for your Jack Russell to take some fresh air while socializing with a variety of other dogs.

You'll need to advise the dog-walker of any social problems or aggressive tendencies your Jack Russell may have. Check their credentials - ask for references from other customers, or - better yet - get their phone numbers and actually speak to them. Make sure they felt their dog was well looked after and benefited from the service.

Companionship is Best

If day-care is out of the question, and you can't find a local dog-walker, you can always consider getting another pet. A dog is best, especially for a Jack Russell whose terrier instincts may take over when a cat is around - which will make for a tense, compressed existence for the poor cat! In all seriousness, the cat's life will likely be in danger. Do not combine cats and Jack Russells unless someone will be there at ALL TIMES to supervise.

If you do get another dog, introduce the two slowly and in controlled circumstances. Don't just buy a puppy or dog and leave her together with the Jack Russell during the day when you go out - the Jack Russell may kill the other dog for a slight as minor as drinking from his water-bowl.

Whatever you do, do NOT get another Jack Russell. The breed can be intensely aggressive towards other Jack Russells, especially when confined together in a relatively small space with few outlets for burning energy.

Your Dog's Needs

You may know of other dogs that seem to do perfectly well on their own in an apartment all day. It's possible that your Jack Russell may be one of them - but if the lifestyle doesn't seem to be agreeing with him, bear in mind that he won't suffer privately. Expect to come home to a shredded couch, droppings and/or urine on the carpet, and various other signs of an unhappy terrier.

If you do decide to leave him to his own devices during the day, think like a dog. How would you like to be entertained? Put a chair by a window and encourage him to sit on it and enjoy watching the parade of people and other dogs going past. Leave windows open a crack (but no more!) for fresh air. Leave a radio or TV on, tuned to a talk-show - dogs find the sound of human voices comforting. Supply him with a variety of toys and chews - but make sure they're safe for unsupervised activity.

Most of all, be prepared to take him for daily walks. Better yet, play an interactive game of fetch or Frisbee (with a soft-edged disc so his teeth aren't hurt) for ten or twenty minutes, along with a fifteen to twenty minute walk. The intensity of the game will do him good, and help the two of you to reestablish a connection after the long day apart.

 

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