5 Great Games to Play With Your JRT

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The Jack Russell is an energetic, playful dog — as you well know. They need a lot of exercise, and they enjoy mental stimulation as well.

Games are a great way of giving your Jack both of these. What’s more, it’s a fun way to bond with your buddy and have a good time.

What are some of the best games for Jack Russell terriers? Let’s have a look.

Tug O’ War

A lot of dogs like a good game of Tug O’ War. It works their little muscles, and helps them to burn off excess energy. And you can tussle with your dog with a variety of props, including:

  • Rope
  • Sticks
  • Rubber chew toys

Your Jack, in particular, may like Tug O’ War because tugging and shaking the toy is similar to shaking prey and pulling it out of its hole — which is what Jack Russells were bred to do. It’s also a good release for a Jack’s boundless energy.

Just make sure to use a good, strong toy. Anything that breaks or tears easily could injure your dog, or be swallowed and cause internal damage.


Dog Health.com warns that a dog with a history of aggression probably shouldn’t play Tug O’ War, as it could trigger dominance. That is, an aggressive dog may forget it’s playing, and turn aggressive on you for real. Always be sure to set limits. You say when the game starts and ends, and learn to recognize when your dog is becoming overstimulated.

This man knows how to keep it friendly with his Jack. Notice how his dog’s tail is wagging throughout, and when he lets go of the toy, his Jack drops it back in his hand. Everyone knows it’s play.

Also, if your dog has dental problems, it’s best to give this game a miss — or at least to play it very, very gently. Arthritic dogs should also avoid this game.

Finally, remember that your Jack is a wee little dog, even if its personality makes it seem otherwise. Be careful not to get too rough yourself.


Throwing a ball and having your dog bring it back is another classic game. Classic because it ticks all the boxes. It’s thrilling for your pup, it wears him or her out, and it’s something you can do to have fun together.

It’s also a good way to teach commands like “fetch” and “drop it.” If your Jack is ball-crazy, you can even work fetch into your obedience training as a reward.

But not all dogs are born with the “fetch” instinct. Many dogs like to chase balls. Not all of them will think to bring the ball back. And some, once they have the ball, won’t want to give it up.

These cases, my mother would say, are learning experiences. That is, it’s a chance to teach your dog some new tricks. Preventive Vet explains how.

Chasing Water

If summers are hot where you are, this game will cool your Jack right down. If you have a rotating sprinkler, your pup may love to chase the moving water. You could also direct the water yourself with a hose.

Just don’t spray your dog aggressively or in the face. Nobody likes that!

Nose Work

Nose work means teaching your dog to use his or her chief asset to solve problems. It’s fun for the dog, and, frankly, it’s pretty fun for the people as well.

First, find a treat that your dog likes — really, really likes. Then, turn a plastic cup over on top of the treat. Can your dog find it? Believe it or not, some dogs take a few tries, while others find the treat right away.

For a second step, do this same process out of your dog’s sight. Can they find the treat now? After that, hide the treat beneath one cup, but place a second cup beside it in the same position. How many tries will it take your dog to figure out which cup holds the treat?

If your dog likes these games, you can enroll him or her in a K9 Nosework class. These classes teach dogs to perform detection tasks similar to those a detection dog might perform.

Check out Jonesey’s backyard nosework session below!


Hide and Seek

Kids aren’t the only ones who love a good game of hide and seek. Your dog will love it, too! But how do you play with someone who doesn’t know the rules?

First, wait until your dog is distracted, in another room, or looking away. Take a bit of his or her favorite treat, and hide in a place where your dog can find you, but not immediately. Call your dog.

When your pup finds you, praise them and give them the treat!

You can also use this exercise to teach words like “seek” or “find.”

What’s Your Favorite Game?

If you have a Jack, you know they love to play. What are your favorite games? We’d love to know!

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