Beagles are one of the most popular breeds in the United States and Canada. They are one of the oldest breeds of hounds and were originally bred for hunting in small packs or braces (pairs). Today, hunting and field trials are still popular with beagles, but more and more they are being bred as family pets.
Beagles are loveable and naturally friendly and are fond of children, so they can make ideal family pets. Their moderate size and modest need for exercise make them suitable for anything from apartment living to a country homestead and anything in between. Beagles are very social animals, so it is not uncommon for families to adopt more than one.
With all of their qualities, potential beagle owners need to be aware that there can be some challenges, too. Beagles are often headstrong and easily bored, so this can make training difficult if you don’t go about it the right way. They are scent hounds and will follow their noses for miles if given the chance, although this tendency can be reduced somewhat through breeding. Understanding how beagles behave and using methods that work well with their breed will take much of the frustration out of training your little dog to be a great family companion. Read on as we discuss some techniques that work well with beagles.
Here are some key points to remember when training your beagle:
• Start with short training sessions of just a few minutes. Beagles have short attention spans, especially as puppies. Keeping them engaged for 10-15 minutes at a time is a good way to start.
• Beagles love food, so treats can be a good reward for the behavior you’re trying to reinforce.
• Don’t scold your beagle and don’t be aggressive with them. These methods can often backfire and cause behavioral issues in your dog. Instead, reinforce positive behavior instead of scolding negative behavior. Show them how you want them to behave and reward them when they get it right.
• If you are outside use a leash or work in an enclosed area. Remember that most beagles will wander off if they pick up an interesting scent.
• Early socialization is often overlooked, but is very important in your dog’s development. Don’t remove your puppy from its mother and litter until at least 8 to 10 weeks of age. Next, work on socializing the puppy to your family and other pets.
• Crate training is a good option to aid in housebreaking and in helping your beagle to feel secure. The crate becomes his den and reduces the tendency to bark when he thinks the whole neighborhood is his territory.
• Obedience training is important for every dog, including beagles. Often a class is the best approach, since you’ll get a seasoned instructor (ask around about the class to find the right one). It is also a good environment for additional socialization with people and other dogs.
• Beagles can respond well to clicker training and this can aid in teaching obedience commands to your dog.
• Learn to be the alpha “dog” in your “pack.” If you don’t take control in your household, your dog will assume the alpha role and this will lead to all kinds of obedience problems. Since beagles are stubborn, it is important that they understand that you are in charge. Learn to be calm, assertive and firm with your dog, but not abusive or mean. Your dog will understand how he fits into the family structure (your pack) and everyone will be happier. Body language and your attitude are important in learning the skills of being the alpha leader, so find a resource that can help you do this properly.
• Don’t forget to have fun. Training your beagle should be fun for you and your dog. Sometimes with a little creativity you can make your training routine into a game that you’ll both enjoy.
There are also training methods for specific problems, such as barking and howling, digging, chewing, biting and nipping, aggression, separation anxiety, pulling on the leash and many other common difficulties that beagle owners might experience. Correcting these problems early instead of putting them off will be easier and may avoid more serious issues, such as having your dog bite a stranger. Sometimes it is best to involve a professional, such as an obedience instructor or your vet to help you solve a problem before it gets out of hand.
There are plenty of resources to help you learn how to train your beagle properly. Don’t be afraid to try a few different things and see how they work. You and your dog are both unique individuals, so you will probably have different results that need to be tailored to your specific situation and needs. Trying several options will help you learn what works best for you and your beagle.