You’re the expert amateur trainer and have a commanded a household of different dog breeds to follow your instruction. However, you start training your new buddy, Snoopy (a Beagle), and he is proving a bit difficult. He doesn’t always listen to your command and he’ll ignore you if you call him. You’ve tried praise, treats, sound training, and even gotten on your knees and begged him to listen to your command. The Beagle is an independent breed, but that doesn’t mean he’s untrainable. He just takes a little more effort than other dogs. Bred as a hunting hound, the Beagle follows his nose and does his own thing, making him more difficult to train than other breeds. But it’s not impossible.
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The Root of the Behavior
The Beagle is a hunting hound and was bred to track game using his nose. As a scent hound, he searched for small game, like a rabbit. His instinct tells him to follow his nose, not your command. These small dogs are happy, playful, and active, but require a lot of exercise. Activity and mental stimulation will help this intelligent dog be satisfied with his daily routine. The Beagle is social and interacts well with humans and other animals and might even adopt every new person he likes as his new best friend. Beagles need more exercise than most people anticipate. Ideally, he needs a fenced in yard and regular walks. Because he is a dog who follows his nose, he needs to be able to roam around on his own. Beagles also tend to have selective hearing when they’re on a mission and might not return, so a fence will prevent them from wandering too far. But be careful, they also have a tendency to dig holes to explore the other side of the fence.
Stimulation is key to keeping your dog from catching wanderlust. If he’s bored, he’s going to dig or howl. Without this exercise, your Beagle might try to endure training, but really he wants to be outside chasing something or running. His mind is elsewhere, making it difficult for him to focus and listen to you. Also, as a dog used to follow his nose, he trusts his instinct and has been rewarded for his excellent hunting skills. Requesting to sit on command doesn’t do much for him. The Beagle’s independent spirit makes him challenging to train because he often will ask, “What do I get out of this?” Unlike other dogs like Labs, Beagles are not interested in pleasing their humans and will not vie for your attention or affection if it requires something he doesn’t want to do.
Encouraging the Behavior
Your independent but adorable Beagle should be trained, otherwise you will have accidents in the house, holes in your yard, and a dog who leads on the leash. Like with all dogs in your household, you are the pack leader and you are in charge. Training your Beagle will take effort. One of the first things you should do is get your Beagle on an exercise and playtime routine. Consider toys that are waterproof and easy to wash for him to use outside. Other good toys would be interactive toys or games that stimulate his mind, like hiding treats and toys throughout the house for him to find. You can also play frisbee or fetch with him. Take him on long walks at least 20-40 minutes. By ensuring he has this routine, your Beagle can be confident that playtime will come. When training, his energy won’t be focused on something else, like that squirrel he sees out of he corner of his eye.
Beagles respond well to treats, but that is a bit of a slippery slope. Their response to food is only temporary and they don’t always remember the skill once demonstrated. Also, many owners use food for training and the Beagle becomes overweight. To keep your Beagle’s figure, you can try praise, which is also effective. Use verbal praise such as “Good boy!” or belly rubs. When you’re training your Beagle, keep it consistent. You’ll only confuse him if you don’t enforce your commands every time you say them. Also, your training should be constant, not just during training time. Teach him to listen when doing regular activities like feeding, walking, or greeting people. Training your Beagle to come might be one of the more difficult commands, but it is probably the most helpful.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If you’re struggling to train your Beagle, don’t give up. Consider taking him to a trainer. The trainer can give you tips for your four-legged friend, evaluate your current routine, and encourage you to add or change something. A Beagle can be trained, but even for the best amateur trainer, it might prove difficult. While Beagles are smaller dogs, they fit well in apartments, but a place with access to a fenced backyard is ideal. In an apartment, you might be taking your dog out for walks several times a day just to give him the minimum exercise he needs. Also, Beagles who are bored and untrained tend to bark or howl, which could disturb the neighbors.
Do not give up training your Beagle no matter how difficult it may be for you both. Be patient and work together. Make sure he is getting enough exercise, too. If you cannot get him to listen, go to a trainer. And remember to be careful with the number of treats you give him. You do not want him turning into a round Beagle bagel, do you?