Beagles are one of the most popular dog breeds in countries all around the world, and it’s easy to see why. These friendly, happy dogs have a nose for mischief and love being around people.
But if there’s one common issue Beagle pet parents experience more than others, it’s that Beagles can be quite difficult to walk. These super-energetic scenthounds have a high prey drive and love following their noses, so walking a Beagle can sometimes be a battle of wills. Your dog doesn’t care where you want to go — they just want to follow this amazing scent they’ve found.
The good news is that it is possible to stop your Beagle from pulling on the lead and turn your walks together into a much more relaxing experience. Keep reading to find out how.
The Root of the Behavior
What do Beagles have against walks? Well, nothing in particular. Beagles are energetic dogs and thrive on regular activity — it’s just that they often have a different idea to their pet parents about the direction each walk should take.
This is down to the fact that Beagles are scenthounds. Originally bred to hunt rabbits, these beautiful canines have a well-earned reputation for having a strong prey drive and one of the best noses in the business.
So it probably won’t surprise you to learn that Beagles love to sniff. No matter where they are or what they’re doing, they’ve always got their nose to the ground. When they get a whiff of an interesting scent, they just want to follow it at the expense of everything else. And when you’re out for a walk, the “everything else” is you and your planned walking route.
That’s why Beagles also have a reputation for being quite stubborn and for not listening to their people, and why your Beagle often ends up walking you rather than the other way around.
Encouraging the Behavior
If walking your dog is a stressful, frustrating, and maybe even physically painful experience, why bother? There are lots of reasons why walking your Beagle should be part of your daily routine.
Every dog needs regular exercise to stay in shape, but it’s particularly important for an energetic breed like the Beagle. These gorgeous dogs are always on the go and need a whole lot of activity each and every day for their health and happiness.
And there’s no easier way to exercise your dog than to take them for a walk. Walking combats obesity, provides great mental stimulation for your pet, and is a great way for you and your pup to bond. Find out more in our guide to the top 8 benefits of daily dog walks.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to exercise your Beagle and give them a mental challenge at the same time. Games and sports that let them put their sense of smell into action are a great idea, so try options like nosework and tracking. You’ll find a few more ideas to get you started in our guide to the top activities for Beagles.
It’s also worth remembering that a short walk won’t cut it for your dog. Beagles need longer treks to help them burn off some physical and mental energy, while off-leash play and exploration (in a securely fenced area) will also help ensure that their exercise needs are met.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Beagles regularly feature on lists of dogs that are difficult to train. But while they do have an independent streak and aren’t quite as eager to please as some other breeds, they’re still entirely trainable.
Like with any other breed, it’s best to start training your Beagle puppy as soon as you bring them home. Use positive reinforcement and a rewards-based method to teach your fur-baby how you want them to behave, and make sure you’ve got a good supply of patience up your sleeve.
As well as all the obedience basics like sitting, staying, and how to come when called, it’s also important to focus on good leash manners for your pup. Training a Beagle to walk on-leash is an ongoing process, and you might find it’s best to start inside at home where there are fewer distractions. Treats are also an important part of the training process, as these food-oriented dogs are always on the lookout for a tasty snack.
Start by rewarding your dog with a treat as soon as you clip on their leash. This will immediately create a positive association with the leash and focus your dog’s attention squarely on you.
And that’s exactly where you want their attention to stay throughout the training process. If your dog knows they’ll be rewarded for doing what you want, they’ll be more likely to focus on you rather than any unwanted distractions.
If your Beagle is a problem puller, you might want to use a special harness that better distributes weight across their chest and shoulders rather than concentrating it on the neck. There are also special head collars designed to stop your dog pulling — just make sure to avoid prong and choke collars, or any other products that stop pulling by causing pain for your dog.
When it comes to stopping a Beagle pulling on the lead, there are a couple of options to choose from. For some dogs, stopping dead as soon as they start pulling (and rewarding them when they return to your side) is the best approach. For others, walking in the opposite direction of the scent they want to follow will teach them that pulling won’t get them where they want to go.
Remember to keep a steady supply of treats on hand to reward your Beagle for doing the right thing. It’s also important that you don’t get angry or frustrated with your Beagle for pulling on the lead to try and follow a scent, as all they’re doing is following their natural instincts.
Stay calm, be patient, and stick with it. Make training part of your daily routine and your consistency will be rewarded.
Finally, providing lots of regular exercise and mental stimulation will also help ensure that when you do attach their leash, your Beagle will be more likely to stay by your side.
Need help teaching your Beagle some good leash manners? Request a session with an in-home dog trainer with Wag! today. With a personalized, 1-on-1 session from a 5-star trainer, walking your Beagle is sure to become a much more relaxing experience.