If there are fleas on your dog, there are fleas in your home, yard, and car, even if you can’t see them. You must break the lifecycle of the fleas to remove them. All these steps will have to take place to break the cycle.
In your home:
• Wash whatever is washable (the dog bed, sheets, blankets, pillow covers, slipcovers, curtains, etc.).
• Vacuum everything else in your home—furniture, floors, rugs, everything. Pay special attention to the folds and crevices in upholstery, cracks between floorboards, and the spaces between the floor and the baseboards. Flea larvae are sensitive to sunlight, so inside the house they prefer deep carpet, bedding, and cracks and crevices.
• When you’re done, throw the vacuum cleaner bag away—in an outside garbage can.
• Use a nontoxic flea-killing powder, such as Flea Busters or Zodiac FleaTrol, to treat your carpets (but remember, it does not control fleas elsewhere in the house). The powder stays deep in the carpet and kills fleas (using a form of boric acid) for up to a year.
• If you have a particularly serious flea problem, consider using a fogger or long-lasting spray to kill any adult and larval fleas, or having a professional exterminator treat your home.
Rough or broken-coated JRTs require a bit more work. Left to grow naturally, the coat may not look neat and tidy. Although grooming the roughs or brokens is more involved, you may derive more satisfaction from the finished product.
Always keep in mind the Jack Russell is a double-coated breed: He has an undercoat and an overcoat. The overcoat is made up of the coarser hairs that protect the dog from briars and brush in the field.
Begin by thoroughly combing and brushing the dog to loosen dead hair and dirt. Then step back and decide whether the dog needs to be stripped of more accumulated dead hair. Stripping means gently pulling out the dead, loose hairs by hand. A stripping knife is a tool for stripping the dog’s coat, and is easier for the novice to remove the dead hairs with than hand stripping.
Before you use your stripping knives, first dull them by running the blades over an old brick. Start with the coarse knife and gently comb the blade through the coat in the direction of growth to remove the dead and loose hairs. Use a light hand, since the blade of the stripping knife may touch the skin of the dog and cause discomfort. Longer hairs are removed in small amounts with a straight pull, without bending your wrist. To protect the skin under the hair, always pull in the direction in which the hair grows. Begin at the head and proceed to the neck and shoulders, then the back and thighs, ending with the sides.
The fine stripping knife removes the undercoat. Care must be taken not to remove too much of the undercoat, which is the dog’s jacket. A dog with too much undercoat stripped out loses the efficiency and comfort of this jacket.
Some terrier groomers only hand strip, gently pulling the dead and loose hairs in the direction of their growth. If you are hand stripping, do only a little at a time. The JRT does not enjoy long stripping sessions. Stripping is an art, so have your dog’s breeder show you how to groom your terrier.
When all the long hair has been pulled and your dog looks like he is in his underwear, you can let him rest a bit while you trim his nails, carefully remove unwanted hair from between his toes using the scissors, and generally check him all over, as described in the weekly routine for a smooth-coated dog.
When this grooming procedure has been completed, mark the date on a calendar and circle the date ten days from then. On the tenth day, rake out the undercoat with the trimmer knife, which is used only for raking and never for stripping. A trimmer knife has teeth on one side and a wooden handle. Use it sparingly, because this tool can cut the hairs—it is only used for combing the dog lightly between uses of the stripping knives. (Do not dull the trimmer knife as you did the stripping knives.) This is a sharp instrument, so be very careful not to dig into the coat.
Some people prefer to use a piece of volcanic rock, found in equine supply shops and called a bot block, to maintain the coarse outer coat of the JRT. Run the volcanic rock over the dog’s coat to remove the hairs that stick up. This tool is handy for grooming the legs, because grooming them may be uncomfortable for the dog with other tools and knives.
Many dogs have thick areas of coat growth over the knees that need to be thinned with thinning scissors and the volcanic rock. You can trim the hair on the back of the legs with grooming or thinning scissors, along with the tip of the tail if it has feathering or a flag of hair on it.
Now that the basic coat work is done, you will begin daily maintenance. Put the dog up on the table and, with your rubber hound glove on one hand and your horsehair glove on the other, alternately stroke the dog with each hand for five minutes. This soon becomes a favorite procedure for the JRT and, again, gives you an opportunity to examine him. After the “gloving” has been completed, selectively pluck the individual long hairs using your fingers. Gently pluck the hairs that will be sticking up. At this point, you will find that there will be a fair number
of such long hairs but, as the days go by and the plucking continues, the “jacket” becomes tighter and there will be fewer and fewer hairs that stick out.
Every week during the grooming session, rake the coat using the trimmer knife to remove excess undercoat. If this is not done, the topcoat will begin to lift and start to look like a hay field gone awry. Your JRT will appear very untidy.
For a smooth-coated JRT, start with a thorough, all-over brushing, followed by a rubdown with a well-soaked, tightly squeezed magnet cloth A magnet cloth (or, as it is sometimes called, a “magic magnet cloth”) is used for its ability to absorb and hold water. It is often yellow and is made of a washable cloth fiber that can be washed over and over again but not machine dried. Equine or tack stores often sell them for polishing horse’s coats. Some dog supply catalogs offer them in the grooming section. The cloth removes old hair and debris, giving a nice fresh look to the coat.
Then look the dog over for anything that may need attention:
teeth, eyes, nails, injury to the foot pads, fleas and ticks (comb him through with the metal flea comb for a thorough check), an unusual smell in the ears, and so forth. (Any unusual smell or matter in the ears requires the attention of a veterinarian.) Follow this routine weekly.
You will also want to brush the dog almost daily because the smooth coat sheds so freely. During the shedding season in spring and fall, take your dog outside to groom him. You can use a bristle brush to remove loose hairs so your home is less filled with the cactuslike hairs of the Jack Russell.