I have a very active wire haired fox terrier that just turned one. She is very good natured and confident, but she demands constant attention. When I’m at my computer she barks, jumps and claws furiously on me. I’ve tried to turn sideways and ignore her or squirt her with a water bottle (neither of which work). When I reach to pet her, she [play] mouths me. When I walk, she nips at my heels and jumps to nip at my shirt. I walk her at least once a day, twice when I can, and throw the ball for her to chase in the yard, but nothing wears her
out. Do you have any suggestions? I hate to have to crate her, but I also need to get my work done!
Ellen P – St. Louis
It sounds like you have adopted yourself a typical terrier… active, lively, persistent and scrappy with bounds and bounds of energy. These are all traits that make terriers excellent vermin hunters!
The key to solving your issues is to ensure your dog has something to do while you are working on the computer, or otherwise occupied. Whether your dog is crated or not, you can use stuffed and frozen Kongs or other food puzzle toys or a hard chew toy like a deer or elk antler to keep your dog’s mind busy and active while you get your work done. Take frequent play breaks during long computer sessions so that her activities can be varied and will keep her engaged throughout the day.
Long, brisk walks and ball chasing are great activities for your dog. While you are outside, you may also wish to try purchasing a flirt pole (like the one seen here) to give your dog another outlet for her energy, while utilizing her breed’s skill and keen ability to chase. You may also want to look into dog sports, like lure coursing or agility, to provide additional outlets for her energy.
Be sure to exercise and/or play with her before you begin your work day for the most success. The barking, mouthing and nipping are not malicious (as you mention), but because she’s bored. It’s a fun game for her and it works tremendously well in getting your attention. Try some training sessions at the computer. Give her something to do to occupy herself, but if she comes over to you for attention, there’s no need to say anything or acknowledge her at all, just get up and leave.
If she nips at your clothes, fold your arms, look upward and stand still. In other words, be completely boring – like a tree! She’ll soon learn that her behavior no longer garners the fun that she’s seeking. Then provide her with an acceptable activity as a substitute. As with all training methods, this will only work if she experiences it consistently. Best of luck!