Nathalie Ingham gives one of our readers some tips on how to socialise their rescue dog...
(Q) We've rehomed a rescue puppy recently, called Archie. Can you give us some tips on socialising him?
(A) Battersea canine welfare trainer Nathalie Ingham says: As Archie settles in with his new family, he will need to be gradually exposed to sights, sounds, and smells and have positive experiences with all, to help him become accepting of new things in the future.
Ensure Archie meets lots of friendly, relaxed new people, children, and dogs of all ages and has a nice time with them, but be careful not to overwhelm him. Let Archie investigate in his own time and do not put pressure on him to interact if he doesn't want to.
If Archie is worried, you will only reinforce the fear by stroking or picking him up, so talk to him in a cheerful manner instead, to help him gain confidence. If he looks like he is becoming overwhelmed, remove him calmly from the situation.
Make sure new experiences only last for short periods of time and repeat them as often as possible. It's also a good idea to take Archie to your veterinary surgery when no procedure is required so he can make friends with the staff there.
When introducing Archie to other dogs, make sure that the other dogs are friendly, sociable, and won't frighten him. Watch the dogs to make sure everyone is having a good time, and if Archie is very worried or over the top and annoying the other dog you may want to end the interaction. As well as other dogs, Archie will need to meet other animals and learn not to chase them. Keep him on a lead at first to ensure no chasing is allowed.
If Archie doesn't have a nice experience at a young age in a variety of situations, he could develop behavioural problems later in life. Socialisation needs to continue regularly during his first year so he grows into a well-balanced, sociable dog.