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Hey yall,
so our 12.5 week old puppy is extremely extremely attached to me. Sounds like a good problem right? But its not. We work with a sports club to intro him into scent and bite work. He is a puppy still so manly its just structured play and obedience currently BUT the puppy will not work with anyone but me. This is not stubborn this is like he is completely fine with me. He works and is just fine. Does excellent but the moment i hand his leash off to another handler he loses his mind. Like goes into extreme stress reaction. The club is positive only so its not like he is being corrected. They are working on clicker and verbal cues just basic obedience. What do i do? Once he finally calmed down they began simply rewarding him for simply on his own going back to the other handler and sitting etc but after about every two treats he looks back at me (i am sitting across the room) and he will run back to me to “check in” and look at me like dad am i ok? Is this common in young pups? What can i do to help him? While its true i am his handler and he will be dealing with me and my wife 99 percent of the time. In the rare instance i want to watch someone model the correct way to do things its almost not possible? I am glad he is extremly bonded to me but wondering what i can do to help him.
 

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Just talk to the trainer for awhile while you hold the leash. Have the trainer give your pup treats and lots of pets. It will probably take a while but eventually he will go with the trainer and be completely comfortable.
 

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Once Ole bonded to me, he had separation anxiety. Not sure if your situation is the same.

We dealt with Ole's separation anxiety by attaching Ole's leash to an object. Then I would walk a few feet away and walk back. When I returned to him, I would not say anything or interact with him... I would walk back, drop a couple of high-value treats, and walk away. I would do this 5-10 times.

Gradually, I increased the distance, duration, and distraction while I was gone. The other day, we were at a park. I walked by Ole and then went behind a shelter building for 30 seconds. After a few times, Ole noticed but didn't seem to care that I was coming or going.

The theory is that Ole will learn that every time I leave, I will return and good things would happen without any fuss or muss.
 

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Two thoughts:

1.Your pup is a baby. You're the center of his universe. He's not "extremely" attached. He's attached.

2. It's our job to teach the pup that he can be independent. We need to do this slowly, so they always know they're safe.

Ok, the latter. Here's what I do. My puppies take midday naps. Even my 11 month year old guy takes a nap (well, mostly he snoozes, eats some lunch, chews on a rawhide and looks out the window listening to the birds).

Growing puppies need extra sleep; does my big guy need extra sleep? Nah, but it's good for him to spend time away from me.

My dogs all sleep in their crates in the master bedroom at night, so midday, I put my pup in his crate with a safe chew, some toys he likes, a bowl of water, and a bit of lunch. I play soft music and I open the blinds so that he can look out the window if he wants. Then I tell him to "guard the den. I'll be back soon," leaving him, closing the door.

At first, I don't leave my puppy very long. I don't respond to crying. (Don't reinforce behavior we don't want, right?) I pottied the pup before he went in and he has everything he could possibly need. Usually, pup will quiet down and fall asleep. After a short while, I'll go in, wake him up and praise him for being so brave.

Then I move him into his front room crate and let him finish his nap because he does need his sleep

Tomorrow, I do the same thing, leaving him a bit longer.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, my pup learns he's fine on his own. So handling him off to someone else is absolutely no big deal because the other person at the end of the leash is irrelevant.

Additionally I take my pup places that I know he'll be absolutely safe, like a friend's house, the trainer's house, the vet clinic, etc. I do the same thing (boarding an hour, then two, until I can board him all day). I always tell him, "guard the den, I'll be back soon" so my leaving isn't overly emotional and even if he doesn't understand what I'm saying, it's clear he has a job to do. The routine becomes reassuring. "This is what Mom says every time. I'm always ok, and she always comes back."

Last week, I brought my pup into the vet clinic, he walked up to the tech and strolled back with her, never looking back. The other staff and I just laughed. He stayed 10 hours. The techs took him for walks, fed him lunch, and he had a nice time. When I picked him up, he was in a relaxed good mood.

Of course I pay for this daytime boarding, but it's so worth it. I do this with all my dogs. Every one of my dogs has needed surgery at one point of their lives. The surgeon or office manager at the various facilities almost always comment how calm and at ease my dogs are despite just being operated on, unlike most of the dogs, many of whom have to be sedated just to be kenneled.

You'll always hear us say that GSDs are velcro dogs. We want loyal dogs attached to us, but we don't want dogs that can't detach. Emergencies happen. Unplanned things happen. You should want your dog to be able to pass the Canine Good Citizen test. You'll want to go on vacation at some point.

We do this by socializing our dogs to being independent (as opposed to training him to tolerate someone else holding his leash) Your pup is still young. I got my pup at exactly your puppy's age. You have plenty of time. Just be consistent.

One final tip: if you're handing over the leash, most dogs do better (at least at the beginning) if he's the one walking away than if you're walking away from him. When you walk away, he feels abandoned. Let the other person take the leash and walk away from you briskly. If puppy is doing something, he's less likely to worry. You can phase in your walking away from him about 6-8 months from now, once he's independent and secure.

Does all this make sense?
 

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You are such a mom :) But probably right. I have a rambunctious 6-month old who likes a challenge not a 12 week old still learning the ropes.

Still, it hurt when I dropped him off for daycare yesterday (his second time) and he took off down the hall with the staff person without looking back... even once. They grow up so fast.
 
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