Beagles are one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. They are affectionate and love children, making them ideal family pets. Still, they are also independent and headstrong, so new owners need to take the time to learn how to train a beagle properly if they are going to be successful.
Many people think that because a beagle is a smaller dog, that they should cause less trouble than larger breeds. Their stubbornness and need for mental stimulation offset the smallness of their stature, so they can get into big trouble if left to their own devices.
Training your beagle properly will require a significant dedication of time and effort, as well as learning on your part to get it done. The key is to start when they are young; when they are more easily trained.
Why You Need to Know How to Train a Beagle
Beagles are a little mix of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when it comes to temperament. They love companionship and being a part of your family pack, but they are also independent and will act out in harmful ways if they get bored. Issues can range from digging to barking, baying and howling to aggression, such as biting, nipping and chewing.
Improper or just plain lack of training and socialization can result in more serious problems later, including aggression problems. As your dog ages, it will be harder to break bad habits, so be sure not to let them develop in the first place.
Good training will pay off with a happy dog and a happy owner. Your dog will be more fun and, since it is well-behaved, will also be less frustrating.
How to Train a Beagle
First and foremost, you’ll need to understand the idea of the Alpha dog. Beagles especially are bred with a strong bond to their pack. The pack is now your family and every pack has to have a leader. Whether you are a type-A personality that likes to take charge or a laid-back follower, you’ll have to step up to the plate to become the Alpha dog – the leader of your pack.
Taking control is the first step to learn how to train a Beagle. Next is to set boundaries. This can include boundaries of spaces, such as areas of your home that the dog is allowed to roam or your yard. It also includes less tangible boundaries, such as when and how long you give attention to your dog. As you’ll see, setting boundaries is one of the most important tools in learning how to train a Beagle. Here are some examples:
- Feeding Time: As the alpha leader, it is up to you to establish feeding times. Don’t respond to whining or other signals from your dog to make you feel guilty. Your vet or food supplier can help you figure out how much and how often your dog should be fed, based on age and weight. This is one area where your dog will test your resolve, so set the schedule and stick to it.
- Walking: This is a surprisingly important part of learning how to train a Beagle. It’s not just a time for your dog to get exercise, but it will also reinforce his submission to you as his leader – if you do it right. Beagles need moderate exercise, so you should give them at least one walk each day. Leash manners indicate proper submission and control. Your dog should be relaxed and in a calm state. If he starts pulling, he’s exhibiting dominant behavior that needs to be corrected. Simply stopping and waiting for him to calm down before continuing is a good way to deal with this. Eventually, he’ll learn that being calm and relaxed means he gets to go for a walk.
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- Jumping on Furniture: Whether you decide to let your dog on the sofa or not, establishing boundaries is important here and is an important lesson in learning how to train a Beagle. Don’t give him free run of the house and furniture. Control the spaces he is allowed in and don’t respond to whining or barking if he wants in, on or out of a particular place or piece of furniture.
- Coming and Going: Beagles, being the strong pack animals they are bred to be, may suffer from separation anxiety. This is where early socialization comes into play. Spend time with your dog from an early age, paying attention to him rather than just being in the same area (quality time). When it comes to coming and going, don’t add to separation anxiety by paying attention to the dog when he’s excited. Instead, respond to him when he is in a calm, controlled, relaxed state and this will help him feel more secure when you leave.
You can see that becoming the alpha leader is one of the most important parts of learning how to train a Beagle the right way. Your dog will be more relaxed and enjoy life more if he knows that you are his protector and leader.
Beagles are quite intelligent, but this also means that they can be easily bored. They need mental stimulation to keep their interest and to help them expend energy constructively – in other words, they like to keep busy.
As you learn how to train a Beagle, you’ve already discovered one of the best ways to keep them busy – training. Beagles love training and so you can always keep them busy by teaching them “new tricks.” Aside from exercise, like a walk, they can also enjoy puzzles, toys and games. Hiding treats is a way to let them use their powerful noses to track the scent – something they were bred to do – and not only use their brains to sleuth out the hidden item, but also get a tasty reward when they find it.
If your beagle gets bored, he might resort to destructive behavior like digging. If done carefully by setting the right boundaries, you might even turn digging into a game that your dog is allowed to enjoy. Assuming you have a suitable spot in your yard, some controlled digging might be a good addition to your dog’s list of enjoyable activities. However, this is not a substitute for walking, socializing and other playing. Don’t let it turn into a problem by neglecting the more important things.
As you get better at learning how to train a beagle, you can avoid most of the common issues by leaving fewer chances for boredom to set in and energy to build up until it finds an unhealthy release. Just be sure to be consistent and maintain the alpha leadership role and both you and your dog will be happier for it.