8 Signs Your Jack Russell Terrier Attached To You

Why is it so important to have a strong bond with your Jack Russell Terrier?

It’s simple – it is the main ingredient for a healthy and happy life together. Attachment and bonding behaviours develop as you, and your terrier spend time together exercising, playing and training.

There are a few tell tail signs that you and your Jack Russell Terrier have a strong connection.  When they’re attached to you, Jack Russell Terriers:

  1. Make eye contact
  2. Come to you for physical affection
  3. Are happy to see you
  4. Returns to your side after short intervals
  5. Their body language is calm and relaxed in your presence
  6. They snuggle with your belongings, especially clothing
  7. Listen and respond to you
  8. Yawn when you do

#1 They readily make eye contact

For humans, making eye contact can be seen as a challenge when we don’t like someone or are intimidated by them, but in loving relationships, it’s a sign of trust and love. It is the same for dogs. When your Jack Russell Terrier regularly makes direct eye contact with you, it is a sure sign of love and trust.

Eye contact isn’t just a sign of a strong bond between you and your terrier, it is also a way to create and improve that bond. For this very reason, eye contact is often one of the first things learned in basic obedience classes because it helps dogs focus.

According to a report in Science Magazine, dogs and humans who made regular eye contact with each other show elevated levels of oxytocin (aka the love hormone). This in turn starts a feedback cycle of love and attachment. 

#2 They come to you for physical affection

Physical affection is one of the most important bonding activities you can engage in with your Jack Russell Terrier. Spending quality one-on-one time with your Jack Russell Terrier can strengthen this bond.

If your terrier seeks out pats, snuggles, and even hugs, it’s a sure sign they have developed an attachment to you. Furthermore, if they rest their head on you, it’s their way of showing you that they feel safe and trust you.

#3 They are happy to see you

Does your Jack Russell Terrier ever get super excited or do zoomies when you come home?

There isn’t an owner out there who doesn’t love it when their terrier greets them with excited yelps, crazy tail wagging or ridiculous, out-of-control joy. It’s easy to see they’re excited to see you and odds are you’re just as happy to see them.

An excited, happy, tail-waggy greeting from your Jack Russell Terrier is one of the surest signs that the two of you have a strong bond.

#4 They return to your side after short intervals

A Jack Russell Terrier with a strong attachment to their owner will typically “check in” and make sure their owner is close by when in new and unfamiliar situations. This is evident when your terrier regularly comes back or makes visual contact with you.

Even the most adventurous, independent dogs are far less likely run away when they have a good attachment to their owner and they also tend to have a strong recall response.

#5 Their body language is calm and relaxed in your presence

Once your Jack Russell Terrier’s initial excitement of seeing you settles down, a tell-tale sign of a bonded dog is also a relaxed, comfortable dog. A relaxed dog wants to be close to you and will lay down by your side – being close to you, another sign of a strong bond.

The most common signs of relaxed body language in your Jack Russell Terrier are:

  • A slightly open mouth, with no facial tension, lolling tongue, and a faintly up-turned mouth
  • Rolling over and exposing their belly for a rub – this shows they trust you
  • Soft gaze and relaxed facial expression
  • Wagging tail
  • relaxed, playful body movement with exaggerated facial expressions and body movements

#6 They snuggle with your belongings, especially clothing

According to a study published in the journal Genome Biology, a dog’s sense of smell is about 40 times greater than ours. Furthermore, dogs have something called neophilia, which means they are attracted to new and interesting odors. If your Jack Russell Terrier is stealing your clothes, more than likely it is because they smell like you. When you wear your clothes (and shoes), your terrier picks up a scent that is unique to you and for him, taking these items this is a way of feeling close to you. When your terrier lies close to items of yours, he is bonding his pack together.

#7 They listen and respond to you

One of the biggest signs that you and your Jack Russell Terrier have formed a strong bond is when they listen and respond to you when you speak, and they obey the commands you give. When you speak, if they stop what they are doing and give you their attention, they are showing how important you are in their world.

Not only does coming to you when called (recall) show they have a strong bond with you, it is one of the most important cues you can teach your terrier to respond to. Recall could potentially keep them safe in a dangerous situation. It is important that no matter what they are leaving behind, when called, coming to you should be the best thing that happens to them all day. So “make a fuss” every time your terrier comes to you when called!

#8 They yawn when you do

Research shows that dogs, just like humans, are more likely to yawn when their owners do. This phenomenon, called contagious yawning, is actually a deep-seated signal that demonstrates an empathetic connection with another person who is yawning. It is then reasonable to assume that your Jack Russell Terrier yawns when you do because they are emotionally connected to you.

Ways to improve the bond with your Jack Russell Terrier?

If you feel that your connection with your Jack Russell Terrier is not as strong as you would like, there are several things you can try.

The first six months of a Jack Russell Terrier’s life are some of the most informative and impressionable. The experiences they have during this stage often determine their lifetime behaviors. If you are the one who spends the most amount of time with them, and feeds and plays with them during this time, they will form a lifetime bond with you.

However, don’t despair if your Jack Russell Terrier is more than six months old, you can still develop a strong bond with them. Terriers like to have physical affection from their owners and if you treat them with cuddles, belly rubs, ear scratches they will love to spend more time with you. Furthermore, paying attention and being available to your Jack Russell Terrier whenever he needs you will also increase this bond.

Is my Jack Russell Terrier too possessive of me?

The two main reasons why a Jack Russell Terrier may be possessive of you are they want to protect you and jealousy over sharing you with another human or pet. Signs your Jack Russell is overly possessive of you can include growling or attacking someone in your close vicinity or whining when momentarily separated from you. A possessive dog is afraid of losing your love and attention.

It is important to avoid adopting two same-gender Jack Russell Terriers in your home. Jack Russell Terriers of the same gender will often seek to be the dominant, or alpha, in the pack, which can lead to jealousy, conflicts and, sometimes, vicious fight because they don’t like to share the love and affection of their owner.

This type of unwanted behavior can be counteracted by only rewarding your terrier for acting the way you expect him to act. You can ignore behaviors like squeezing in between you and another person by standing up and not saying anything, not looking at him or not touching him. Affection is something you give to your dog on your terms, not his. When unwanted behavior is ignored, your terrier learns that his behavior is not acceptable, and he won’t get your attention until he’s calm and not displaying jealous behaviors. 


Do Jack Russells Attach To One Person? JRT’s Loyalty (jackrussellowner.com)

Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds (science.org)

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