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
Positive 1ST! More reward, less correction makes a GREAT trainer.
Chows: Khana CD RE SD & Dora NA NAJ GSD: Tazer SDIT
Total of 2UDs 3CDXs 12CDs 2REs 8AgilityTitles 1BH Chow!
20 Yrs Training/Teaching Experience