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Why Do Beagles Howl So Much
The name Beagle may be from the Gaelic word ‘beag’ that means ‘little’ but it most likely comes from the French word ‘be’gueule’, which means ‘open throat.’ If you have a Beagle, you know he can open his throat and howl like no other breed. Beagles are a small scent hound, resembling the Foxhound, bred for hunting rabbits. The Beagle actually has three types of howls or barks, each serving a distinct purpose. While dogs will bark and howl, as it is part of their nature, it can at times become excessive and impact both your and his quality of life. Identifying his purpose in howling is your first step in figuring out how to potentially decrease the volume and frequency of his howl.
The Root of the Behavior
Your Beagle is vocal in three different ways. He has his standard bark, where he lets you know such things as someone is at the door, he needs to go out, or he is excited about a new toy or treat. Beagles like to bark, and for a smaller dog, it is a pretty deep and loud sound. The second vocalization he makes is his hunting howl, and it is more like a deep yodel. He will throw his head back and open his throat, just as his name describes. It is an almost mournful sound and can go on for quite a while. When bred purely for hunting, it was often reserved for the hunt. Typically, it is to alert others that he has picked up a scent or found a wounded prey. Even if you are not using your Beagle for hunting, he will still use his howl to alert you when he has found a scent, as his hunting instinct is intrinsically part of his breed. Howling makes your Beagle happy as it taps into his inner breeding.
Often a non-hunting Beagle will start off with a bark and then transition to his howl to alert you that he has found his toy, that the mailman has arrived, or even that he heard a leaf rustle in the breeze. His howl also carries quite far, so your neighbors may also be receiving his message. The final sound that a Beagle makes is baying, which is a cross between a howl and a bark. It has a sharper and harsher sound then the bark and is not as long as the howl. He may make it when he is sad, or when he hears another dog howling as he feels compelled to join in with his song. Many dog owners report this howl being heard across breeds, and researchers sense it may stem all the way back to the wolf ancestry. Wolves, the pack animals that they are, use the howl to communicate location and to have a sense of community. All dogs bark, and all Beagles howl at some point, some more than others. But if his barking and howling becomes excessive or a nuisance then it needs to be addressed compassionately and consistently before it impacts the quality of life for both of you.
Encouraging the Behavior
Excessive barking often results when a dog is struggling with separation anxiety, but it can also be out of boredom or even a learned behavior from you. Separation anxiety occurs when your Beagle struggles with being left alone. He may bark, howl, chew, or even have accidents when left alone. If you suspect his barking and howling is due to separation anxiety, spend time before you leave him, giving him a nice 30-minute walk or playing outside. Create a safe place for him in the home that is contained as large areas can generate anxiety. If he tends to bark at everything he sees or hears, do not place him near a window and leave on background noise such as a white noise machine or even a radio specifically created for dogs. Give him time in this safe place before you go and leave without a scene.
Also leave him with a time-release treat, such as a peanut butter and kibble stuffed Kong. When you return, give him time to see you before you let him out of his containment and follow it up with another 30 minutes of outside exercise time. If you cannot check in with him during the day to give him a break, consider hiring a dog walker to visit. Your Beagle may also use his howl to get your attention. At first, it may be useful to know when visitors have arrived, he needs to go out, or he is hungry. But some dogs quickly learn that howling is a great way to get a reaction out of you and will take it as a sign to howl all the time. When you are home, lavish praise and attention when he is quiet and ignore him when he howls to get your attention. Any attention, even negative attention, when he barks will reinforce his barking. Some owners also use ‘bark collars’ which spray a gas or substance such as citronella to startle the dog when he reaches a certain pitch and volume. The dog quickly learns other ways to communicate his needs to you.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Beagles are social animals that need socialization and stimulation to be at ease. They also need consistent exercise throughout the day. Some Beagles are more vocal than others, but the breed does almost always come with a howl. Some Beagle puppies learn to howl from their mother before they are weaned and some are several months old before they make a sound. While none are completely silent, those that are quieter as puppies tend to be quieter as adults. A happy Beagle is also less prone to seek your attention through his bark, howl, or yelp so be prepared to spend a lot of time with him.
Beagles are known for their vocalizations. They have a deep bark, a hunting howl, and a yelp. While they are on the smaller side, their vocalizations are deep, long, and can carry a far distance. Beagles are kind, loving, smart, and live to pick up a scent. They also really love to howl. If noise is an issue for you, you may want to look for a different breed. But, with proper attention, exercise, and love the Beagle makes a great family pet.
By a Black Lab lover Zoe Byer
Published: 04/18/2018, edited: 01/30/2020
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