How Old is Too Old? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-30-2009, 11:14 PM Thread Starter
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How Old is Too Old?

UB will be 4 this February 1. We've gone through puppy obedience, basic obedience and advanced obedience. We tried for his CGC, but couldn't pass due to his inability to be away from me for any length of time. I've continued to work with him, but am not able to break him of this attachment.

Long story short, he was in a house fire this spring where a few other dogs perished and he was trapped in a room. The firefighter's heard his bark and he was rescued. Since that event, he's become even more clingy of me. It's extremely cold here so we aren't getting much work outside, but I practice NILIF and make him work when we play catch, etc. I have DH feed him and let him out, so he's not dependant on just me.

Question is, I would love to try again to get his CGC. Wondering if anybody has done it at 4+ years, or maybe UB is just meant to be my loving boy and not a therapy dog. Any thoughts?

Lorrie - Mom to Uncle Buck vom Stolzhaus (U.B.)
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-30-2009, 11:20 PM
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Re: How Old is Too Old?

I had the same problem the first time I tested for the CGC, I didn't even know the "leave with a stranger" test was on there. After failing, I trained an out-of-sight down stay (started with just turning my back) and the second time around she was fine.

I see no reason why a 4 year old dog wouldn't be able to do it.


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-30-2009, 11:35 PM
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Re: How Old is Too Old?

For a lark, I took my ten year-old white male shep to the CGC and Therapy Dog test. He passed and had a good time doing it. At that age, he was active, but mellow and laid back. He went on to enjoy his work until his arthritic hips made car rides hard on him. He'd had no formal obedienc training, he was just a good boy, though yes, a bit clingy with me as he was rescued.

Good luck and good for you for saving him!



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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-30-2009, 11:37 PM
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Re: How Old is Too Old?

A friend of mine started training his area search dog when he was returned to him at almost 4 years old (he breed him and after 4 years they couldn't break him from chasing the horses) Long story short at 10 years old he is still working. These dogs never stop learning, keep on trucking, I know you will make it.

Sharon, Mom to
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-30-2009, 11:47 PM
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Re: How Old is Too Old?

since it's so cold where you are, how about training inside???
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-31-2009, 12:03 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How Old is Too Old?

I don't have a place to officially train inside, so we work in the house. UB must do his sit/stays when I throw his cuz and can't move until I release him. I also put him in stays and I go into other rooms in the house, then release him. He does ok in those situations, as he knows I'm in the house. Once we get out of single digit temps I'll take him out in the neighborhood and start again.

Thanks for the encouraging words. We're gonna try again. This time I think I'll take some classes to teach him and me more "focus" techniques. I'm also gonna try using his Cuz for motivation instead of treats or corrections/praise.

Lorrie - Mom to Uncle Buck vom Stolzhaus (U.B.)
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-31-2009, 06:58 AM
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Re: How Old is Too Old?

I got all 5 of my dogs CGC last year. At that time, their ages were 7, 6, 4, 2 (for the GSD's) and 1 1/2 for the Yorkie.

Trainer @ Obedient K9 Dog Training /Professional Member of I.A.C.P.
Proudly owned by Reno CGC, Lance CGC, Carlie CGC & Sniper CGC (GSD's)& Rylee CGC Yorkie(all rescues)
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-31-2009, 08:22 AM
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Re: How Old is Too Old?

My Mom has an extremely velcro dog and one of the things that's helping is for her to leave him with me every once in a while - sometimes just for an hour or so, sometimes longer (when she heads out on a trip). He knows me, so it's not so traumatic for him, and he's learning that being away from Mom doesn't mean she's never coming back and doesn't mean that he won't get fed, petted, let outside, etc.

So if you have someone that you can trust, giving your boy some time away from you may help him gain confidence. Even with dogs who already have confidence, teaching them that being with someone else is a good thing helps give them the tools to cope if something DOES happen to us.

Another thing to do is to really concentrate on your dog's behavior when you're at a training class or out in public. Any time he voluntarily shows confidence (like moving away from you to greet someone), reward it. I know it sounds backwards from what we usually tell people (reward all focus on YOU) but for a dog that is overly needy it helps teach them that they don't need to be quite that needy. I had a GSD pup come to me that was scared of everything. She decided I was her saviour and wanted to wrap herself around me everytime we were in public. So I started taking her to classes, sitting quietly and only rewarding her (treats, praise, attention) when she offered a behavior that showed more confidence (like not hiding behind me, stepping forward to greet someone, not shying away from calm dogs passing by, etc.). It did take a while, but she gained a tremendous amount of confidence.

As far as the CGC goes .. I think it's still a good possibility for you. I don't think the age will affect things so much as your dog's clinginess. Practicing the "confidence" exercises will help, as well as working on a stay and coming back at gradual intervals to reward quietly. And if your goal is for him to be a therapy dog, rewarding him for going to people calmly will be a great step. Some of the therapy dog programs don't require an out of sight exercise (we didn't have to do it for the Delta Society test). But they did have to accept being hugged by a stranger, having people argue near them, having people approach quickly and with weird movements. So there may be some options for you and your boy.

Good luck in whatever you decide to try! You might consider Rally, too, as novice rally is all on-leash and there's only you and your dog in the ring (and no long stays). Novice rally would probably be easier for your dog than the CGC test.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-31-2009, 12:44 PM
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Re: How Old is Too Old?

First of all, you forget about the fire, he probably senses that you feel sorry for him and that makes him feel insecure. I had a dog exactly like this and I had a fire too, what finally helped was my thinking positive. I decided he could do it. First I would go to places with friends and family and have them hold him while I went to the bathroom. I always returned and ignored him. He stopped whining and pacing, he knew I would be right back, it took time but I had time, eventually I would get other people, dog people, at obedience, handling, anywhere I knew they would be calm and matter of fact and I would go get coffee, bathroom, water or just go walk around, eventually he was OK, he never stopped watching for me but he did earn his CDX. Good luck he can do it.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-31-2009, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How Old is Too Old?

Thanks for the good input. I'm sure a good part of his clingyness is my doing. I was totally freaked out after the fire and will never forget the call from the woman who owned the house that burned.

We have a couple of friends that are comfortable with UB. I think I'll try leaving him with them for a bit. I'm going to concentrate on him gaining confidence and me learning not to coddle him. Thanks again.

Lorrie - Mom to Uncle Buck vom Stolzhaus (U.B.)
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