Older Puppy Behavior Problems

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Barked: Thu Feb 21, '13 7:56am PST 

I am hoping someone can give me some advice. Almost two weeks ago, I fostered a pit mix from the city shelter. She is my first foster (not my first dog) and is estimated to be around 18 months old. Let me start by saying that overall she is a GOOD dog - she is doing excellent with housebreaking (no accidents in the past 7 days), great on a leash, doesn't beg for food, non-destructive, affectionate, and quiet in her crate.

The problem is that when I come home to her after work, simply put, she won't leave me alone. I do not have a yard, but I try to exercise her as much as I possibly can. We are in the routine of running three miles in the morning before work, and running another two miles immediately after work. It is bitter cold where I live right now, but I get her outside every chance I can.

When we come back from our evening run, she is usually quite wound up so I will play "fetch" with her in the house for a little bit. I understand that she wants and needs my attention, but I also need an uninterrupted half hour or 45 minutes to relax myself. I have bought her every bone/toy that I can think of from Kongs, to ropes, to plush toys, rawhide, antlers and anything in between. She will play with these for about 15 minutes on her own, while I sit on the couch and try to relax but then she's trying to crawl all over me on the couch.

I've tried the "four on the floor" thing where I only pet her when she has all four paws on the floor. I've tried standing up when she climbs on me or the couch. I've tried to completely restrict her from the couch. All of these efforts become exhausting and frustrating as she is constantly nosing, mouthing or pawing at me.

I really try to be consistent, but some nights she just wears me down and it's easier to let her on the couch to cuddle with me. This will calm her down for a few minutes, but before long she is mouthing me and chewing my hands. If I try to hide my hands she will move on to my feet, hair or sometimes my face.

Again, I know she's a good dog, but I'm getting very frustrated and discouraged. I've thought about training classes, but she knows basic commands like "sit", "lay down" and we are working on "drop it", and "off". But that is not the kind of help I need. I need to figure out how to train her to give me some time to relax myself. I don't know what I'm doing wrong or what else I can do to help her.

Where can I run- today?
Barked: Thu Feb 21, '13 8:48am PST 
Oops, I answered with this in Answers before I saw this more detailed post. I wrote:

"How about something she can do on her own to occupy her time? Such as a food-dispensing puzzle toy, or a nylabone, or some other kind of chew like a bully stick? 5 miles of running seems like it would be adequate, but some dogs need either some extra mental stimulation (like a 15min. training session or the puzzle toy) or jaw work from a good chew -- some dogs also need to be taught how to wind down, you can look up Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol. Thank you for fostering!"

I see now that you have tried chews and Kongs. Any of the other stuff? Is the dog crate trained? Some dogs need to be confined a little to learn to relax -- maybe offer her a chew or puzzle toy in a closed crate? This way she couldn't badger you during "Quiet Time".
Jewel, PCD

8.6lbs of fury- in a bow!
Barked: Thu Feb 21, '13 9:01am PST 
I just fostered a stardard poodle puppy that I had to stick in a crate to get him to relax, everything was just too exciting for him. I did also use treat toys that were harder than kong, I have this egg shaped thing he had to roll around to get kibble out of it that would keep him busy and a wobbler-like toy. Kongs can be too easy to keep them busy for long. Or freeze the kong so it takes work and stick them in a crate with it to teach them to relax.