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Q. Dear Digital Dog,

I just adopted Ginger from the animal protective league. She is real cute. They said she is part gr. shepard, and part rottie. She is very loving, but she likes to get into everything. She is almost 10 mo. old. When i take things away from her, and try to walk away, she will try to bite the back of my legs. She pulls the bedspread off the bed, pillows, etc. take them outside through the doggy door, and have a real fun time with them. She will rip them to shreds if I let her. Could you give me some advice as to how to handle the discipline for this manner? So I can't leave her loose while I am at work, so I have to keep her in a dog kennel, and I know that she has to use up a lot of energy after I get home. I would appreciate some advice as to how to start with this training. thank you .

Living with the Spice of Life

Ans. ~ Spice,

Find a trainer to work with NOW!!! Your email indicates that while Ginger is not a hazard now, that your lack of certainty in handling this makes you ill equipped to deal with this alone.

You have the potential of a great dog or a total terror here! She is already showing a number of behaviors that need to be redirected or they will get out of hand. At the same time, though this might sound contradictory until you read further, correction is NOT in order. She doesn't have a clue as to what is asked or expected of her so correcting or punishing her will only lead to confusion, anxiety and probably an increase in the freneticness of the behaviors as she strives to release the stress.

Definitely using a crate (not sure if that is what you mean by a kennel) is helpful. Also work to develop some games that are OK. I would advise against tug games at this point but if you can get her to retrieve or even just chase a ball when thrown you can always use several balls and toss them around while she runs to each one in turn (as you walk to the last one to pick it up and throw it again). As mind numbing as this may sound to you, it will be the rudimentary aspect of building a retrieve (which is a great game to burn energy) and help stimulate her mind and sense of interacting with you.

I wouldn't worry about leaving Ginger loose while you are at work for some time... she is an adolescent (with all the angst that comes with that) and her history is one that has likely left her rather stressed. She needs time to settle down and feel secure in her new home. Even a few months isn't too long when contrasted with how it would help her for the rest of her life. If you are at work for over 6 hours at a time I would suggest that someone come over and let her out if only to potty. This will help with some of the stress you see when she is crated all day.

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