Why Does My Jack Russell Eat Dirt?

Why Does My Jack Russell Eat Dirt?

I have a small backyard, but it gives my Jack Russells enough space to run around to get rid of all that pent-up energy. They don’t dig up the garden, but a few years ago I noticed that my youngest dog, Vanilla, was eating some of the dirt.

I was a bit puzzled by this and I was wondering why my Jack Russell was eating the dirt. More so, I was also curious as to what I could do to stop this type of behavior.

I did some research and this is what I found.

Why Does My Jack Russell Eat Dirt?

Your Jack Russell is eating dirt because he might be bored from not getting enough exercise or enough mental stimulation. He might also be eating dirt because he is anxious or stressed, and this can be caused by many things such as a lack of exercise and separation anxiety.  In certain cases, your Jack Russell might be eating dirt because his diet is missing essential nutrients or because he is being fed low-quality food.

Let’s have a look at these causes in more detail.

Lack of Exercise

Jack Russells need at least an hour of exercise each day to be happy and healthy. If they don’t get enough exercise, they tend to display abnormal behavior such as eating dirt.

Top Tip: Take your pup for a walk every day for at least an hour or make time to play with him in the backyard.

Lack Of Mental Stimulation

These pups are extremely intelligent dogs and, therefore, they need enough mental stimulation otherwise they can get bored or they might get destructive as well.  This, in turn, can lead to them eating dirt.

Top Tip: Make sure your furry friend has access to his favorite toys at all times as this will give him the mental stimulation that he needs.

Separation Anxiety

It is a fact that Jack Russells don’t like to be left alone for too long, and if they are, then they will also display weird behavior such as eating dirt. Pups under a year should not be left alone for more than 2 hours at a time, and older Jack Russells can be left alone for up to 6 hours at a time.

Top Tip: If you need to be at work for most of the day, get a friend to check in on your pup when you’re gone.

Unbalanced Diet

If you don’t feed your pup the right food, then he might start eating dirt. There are four key nutrients that help promote healthy development in your pup: protein, fat, calcium, and digestible carbohydrates. Simply make sure that he gets a well-balanced diet and stay away from food that might upset his tummy.

Is Eating Dirt Dangerous For My Jack Russell?

If your Jack Russell has eaten a bit of dirt then he will be fine. However, if he is constantly eating dirt then it can be detrimental to his health. Dirt can contain certain pesticides or other toxins which can be toxic to your dog if enough dirt has been consumed.

Also, if there are stones in the dirt then it can also be dangerous because the stones can get stuck in his throat or cause a blockage in his digestive tract.

It is therefore very important that you act immediately when your furry friend starts eating dirt.

I would advise you to immediately limit his access to the garden or wherever he has access to dirt while you establish what the cause of this behavior is. If he has been consuming a lot of dirt on a regular basis, and you’re concerned about his health, please speak to a vet.


And there you have it, the mystery has been solved.

If your furry friend is eating dirt then I suggest that you make sure he gets enough exercise on a daily basis. I can’t tell how important this is. If he is getting enough exercise, make sure that he is not stressed or anxious as this can cause him to eat dirt.

Finally, this is a given, make sure that he gets a well-balanced diet and stay away from any food that would cause him to get an upset stomach.

If none of the above helps, please consult with a vet.


  • Jan Pretorius

    Meet Jan Pretorius, the passionate dog lover and proud owner of the popular canine haven, JackRussellTerrierDog.com. Born and raised in a small town known for its love of animals, Jan’s journey into the world of dogs began at a young age, fueled by an innate connection with our four-legged companions.