How to socialise an older dogAlmost all vets and dog trainers will tell you that it's essential to socialise your pooch from puppyhood to ensure that your pet grows up comfortable around all other humans and animals.

However, if you adopt an older pooch from a rescue centre or have a pup that's had a bad experience in the past, you may find that your pet is nervous or even aggressive around people or dogs they're not familiar with.

And although socialising an older mutt is distinctly more difficult than with a younger pup, it's not impossible provided that you're willing to put in the time, effort and patience required.

With humans

When it comes to socialising with people, it's best to bring a friend or family member around to the house and have them sit quietly in the same room as your pooch.

If your pup runs away and hides, allow them come out in their own time once they've seen that the visitor poses no threat and they start to feel a little curious.

It may also help to have your visitor give your pooch dry dog food treats so your pooch associates strangers with positive experiences rather than stress and fear.

You may find that it takes a few visits until your pet starts to feel comfortable around a new person, but never rush your dog and ensure they always have somewhere to escape to if they feel overwhelmed.

And once they seem content to have one guest in the house, gradually begin to introduce other new people to your pooch and before long you'll find that they're happy in the company of any humans.

With other dogs

The same principles apply when socialising your dog with other canines. At the beginning it's best to keep your pup on the lead in case they become aggressive or try to run away, and use plenty of praise and reassurance.

But make sure you don't hold your pet on too tight a lead, otherwise they may feel restricted and afraid and this can cause a dog to lash out.

Using a friend's dog that you know to be calm and friendly, slowly introduce your pooch taking one step at a time and allowing your pup to back off if they're afraid.

If at any stage your pet seems overwhelmed or at all aggressive, then call it quits and try again on another day, as it can take a few sessions until your dog feels comfortable.

Once your dog is happy to approach the other pup and have a sniff, then it may be a good idea to let them off the lead for a run around. Dogs tend to socialise best when they have the freedom to run and play, as they feel unrestricted so are less likely to become anxious.

However, when socialising your pooch with humans or other dogs it is important to remember that safety always comes first, so unless you can trust them not to become aggressive, they'll have to be kept on the lead.

But with a bit of understanding and plenty of time, almost any dog can learn to socialise with other humans or animal and become a happy, relaxed household pet.

Written by: Hannah