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We rescued a 3 year old retriever several months ago.

Now that she is getting more comfortable in our home, we have two major issues we are trying to deal with.

She is getting xtremely protective with our kids and my wife. If I am around or walking her, she is not threatened by other dogs or people, but if I am not around, she is aggresive, seemingly protective, of the rest of the family. For example, my wife took her for a walk this am and crossed paths with another retriever. Our dog went ballistic. It's very un-nerving.

Issue 2 is cat chasing. We have a cat that the dog is constantly looking for and whe she does spot her, she gives chase and will not listen to commands.

I understand the concept of rewarding her with treats for good behavior, however, as we are not around her 24/7, it is inconsistent.

We had a zap collar for her, and when she is going after the cat, it doesn't seem to register with her, even on the higher settings.

So I am looking for suggestions on how to correct these behaviors.

Thanks to all.
 

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First of all, on the cat, you realize you cannot ever allow the dog and the cat to be unsupervised if they are together. The cat will ALWAYS lose that one. Best to have the dog on a leash or in a crate if kitty is in the same room. A gated area where the cat can go and the dog cannot is essential.. and it has to be something the dog cannot breach.

With the dog on a leash, if the cat enters the room and the dog goes to chase, you can ask the dog to lie down. You have the leash. If the dog does not lie down for you, get between her and the cat and lean over the dog.. cha cha into her space forcing her to back up and say, "MY cat.." The words, BTW, are for you, not the dog. That is what you are telling her. This is my cat and not yours so PAWS OFF. Do it EVERY time the dog goes to chase the cat. When you lean over your dog and cha cha into his space, you are allowed to be somewhat intimidating.. and the response you want is the dog paying attention to you and backing away.

Never ever ever leave the dog and cat together unsupervised. If you cannot supervise the dog goes into a crate.

As to the fear and leash aggression with other dogs or your kids. This usually happens when the dog gets the idea he has to take care of things. The best way to stop this is to not let it get started. Your dog probably has a "threshold" distance from other dogs where he is not reactive. Stay at that distance and as he looks at the other dog, tell him he is good and give him some treats.

In those situations where the unexpected happens, the person handling your dog needs to quickly get between your dog and the other dog or person your dog is aggressing at. As soon as the handler is between your dog and the other "strange" dog, you are letting your dog know YOU are handling it (you being your wife in this case). At the same time she gets between your dog and the strange dog, she needs to redirect your dog to walk away from the strange dog.

Of course, having a behaviorist come in may help you a lot. I would also suggest a pamphlet sized book by Patrician McConnell called "the Cautious Canine" In that there are step wise instructions for dealing with this. The book can be had at www.dogwise.com

I would also suggest you and your wife together go to an 8 week obedience class. This is typically 1 night a week and homework each week so you learn how to train your dog.
 

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When you're around I suspect that you take charge....as you should....intercepting other dogs, people...letting her know that you'll handle the situation. That's probably not how your wife deals with it....she's probably letting the dog make the decisions about other dogs/people.

The shock collar can backfire on you....ie; the dog sees the cat and gets zapped...it's the cats fault. Everytime she sees the cat she gets 'punished' so, now she needs to get rid of the cat.

A better approach is to teach her that the cat is not hers to chase, taunt or harass. You do that by stepping between them...declaring that you own the cat....it's yours...not hers. Make her back-up....that tells you that she got the message. This takes consistency....if she gets to chase the cat sometimes then, the lesson takes alot longer to learn.
 
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