My wife and I (and our rather large family... 4 rambunctious boys and two cats) have a purebred, neutered, female black lab (Mae) that's going on 4 years old. She was a humane society rescue dog, and we don't know much about her history other than being told she was found on the side of the highway. When we first got her, it was wonderful. She was calm, great with the kids (let our youngest climb all over her), knew simple commands, but nothing more than basic training from what we could tell, but she listened and all was peaceful and we couldn't believe that we found such a wonderful family pet at the humane society.

Well... she's still great with the kids, but her personality has changed a bit, and we're wondering what to do about it. In the interim, we added the two cats, and things were a little standoffish for a a while, but it seems they've settled into a decent pattern. Don't get me wrong, they don't cuddle or snuggle or anything, but life is okay on that front. We had decided to try and add a female Lhasa/Maltese puppy into the mix, and long story short, we had to rehome the puppy because we found that Mae just wasn't going to warm up to her. She wouldn't tolerate Lucy at all, from having to be fed separately, to even be outside separately (or Lucy being kept in a pen). Mae would deliberately avoid, and at times, bulldoze or growl or nip at her, and we were afraid that Lucy would eventually get hurt. Mae really didn't seem to want to accept Lucy into the household. We tried everything for a few months and couldn't let Lucy out of her pen for more than a few minutes at a time (that's no life for a pet).

Her calm demeanor has changed a bit, and she is now quite a bit more clingy than she has been. She seems to have separation anxiety almost. She is always following us around, getting underfoot, and will not go outside by herself anymore. If someone goes with her, it's okay, but even then, if it's not one of us (my wife more than me) she will immediately come back to the kitchen stairs, or back porch, or front porch, or any place where she thinks she can get back inside to be near us. We have to raise our voices with her to go and do her business (and sometime we need to physically go outside and lead her into the yard), when before, we would just let her out and she would bolt out into the back yard and take care of things and either stay out there peacefully, or joyfully return after a short while when she was done playing and exploring. Now, we let her out, and she sits and stares at us through the door. If we do manage to get her into the yard to take care of things, she comes right back and is begging to be back inside. I don't mind walking her out there, but not every time, and certainly not when the winter sets in. She used to be so good about this, and now it's completely different.

Any thoughts or tips? We're seriously contemplating a boot camp or other training for her (which will hopefully correct other things like our inability to get her appropriately leash trained... we can't take her on long walks with us because she doesn't listen, will constantly pull, and if I'm not there, my wife can't handle her because of Mae's size and strength, at least not while also trying to manage the boys). We've put her on a lead in the yard, but I haven't found a collar or harness (yes a harness), that she can't wriggle out of. I can't believe that our once nice, calm pet now needs reeducation. There must be something we can do.

- Desperately seeking advice in WI