How to Train Your Basset Hound Dog to Listen

Medium
1-2 Months
General

Introduction

Basset Hounds are sweet, lovable, vocal and yes, stubborn. At least they appear to be stubborn-- actually, they are easy going and easily distracted by their powerful sense of smell, which can lead to perceptions they are stubborn. Understanding your Basset's natural inclinations and having the patience to find ways to work with your Basset will contribute to success getting him to listen to you. 

These dogs are rarely aggressive or ill-tempered; if your Basset Hound is not listening to you it is more likely a product of lack of motivation to attend to you, greater interest in something else that has caught your dog's attention, or his natural inclination to vocalize. Bassets are prone to howling, part of their hunting dog heritage. You will need to ensure that you are more important than anything distracting your dog, such as howling or scenting, so that he is highly motivated to listen to you. How do you achieve this?  Practice, and establishing that good things happen to those who listen!

Defining Tasks

The independent Basset Hound has a reputation for being harder to train than some more eager to please breeds. Training your Basset means understanding his motivation to use his nose and his need for establishing behaviors through repetition and strong leadership. Avoid punishment as a means of correction, as your sensitive Basset as he may not respond well to this form of correction. Instead, focus on direction when getting your Basset to listen to you by establishing a way to get his attention with leadership, signals, and commands. Ideally, you will start working with your Basset when he is a young puppy, to establish that your dog needs to attend and listen to you, older dogs can take longer to train. Having patience and using repetition works well with Basset Hounds, and success will come to those who persevere.

Getting Started

Time and patience are the most important things you will need to get your Basset to listen to you. You will need to establish a strong leadership relationship and use consistency with your loving, but sometimes obstinate Basset! Using treats to reward your food-motivated hound for positive listening behavior is usually a good choice. Also, be prepared to spend time exercising, establishing obedience, and giving your nosey Basset plenty of sniffing time to meet his scenting needs, in order to get your dog to listen more effectively to your direction.

The Look at Me Method

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3 Votes
Step
1
Use distraction-free zone
Find a quiet location free from distractions.
Step
2
Command 'look at me'
Hold a treat and command “look at me”. Wait patiently, this may take a while.
Step
3
Capture 'look at me'
When your Basset turns to look at you, use a clicker or say "good" to capture the behavior and reward him with the treat.
Step
4
Practice
Continue to practice, increase the length of time you need your Basset to look at you before rewarding him. When he is turning to look at you immediately when commanded, in anticipation of his treat, you can move to areas of more distraction.
Step
5
Add commands
Take your Basset outside, or to an area with distractions and practice the 'look at me' command. Eventually start replacing treats with praise and affection once your dog is consistently looking at you when commanded. Follow up 'look at me' with other commands so your dog learns to listen to you when you command “look at me”.
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The Be the Pack Leader Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Provide food
Establish that you are the provider of food and all good things. Make your Basset Hound wait for you while you prepare his food, and then stand or sit next to him while you provide food. You can even hand feed your dog so he knows you are where his meals come from.
Step
2
Provide time
Socialize your dog; spend lots of time with your Basset, take him on adventures, introduce him to new people and things. Exercise and take him on walks regularly. Play with your Basset lots to establish relationship through shared experience.
Step
3
Teach obedience
Teach your Basset Hound obedience commands in a quiet location. 'Sit', 'stay', and 'come' are all necessary commands.
Step
4
Teach tricks
Teach your Basset Hound tricks he can do to earn rewards, like 'roll over' or 'speak'--your vocal Basset may really take to this one and it uses his natural abilities.
Step
5
Provide "nose" time
Provide lots of nose time Your Basset Hound loves to scent. Make a game out of finding scents and following trails to meet his needs and establish your leadership. A Basset that sees you as his leader is more likely to listen to you.
Recommend training method?

The Signals Method

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1 Vote
Step
1
Determine signals
Dogs don't speak human language and your Basset, especially, may not be particularly geared to respond to verbal commands. Establish some hand signals and body language you can use to get his attention.
Step
2
Avoid verbal commands
Do not repeat verbal commands without getting a response, as this just teaches your Basset to ignore you. Also, avoid yelling or punishing your dog, which will just cause your Basset to withdraw and avoid you.
Step
3
Practice
Practice hand signals in distraction-free environments and then start using them in environments with distractions.
Step
4
Use your body to get attention
Get your Basset's attention. Tap him on the side firmly but gently, or place your body between him and the object that is distracting him from listening to you For example if he is sniffing a tree, insert yourself between your Basset and the tree.
Step
5
Use hand signals
Once you have got your Basset's attention, give a hand signal to communicate, such as 'sit' or 'come'. Your Basset may respond better to hand signals you develop than to verbal commands that he may have learned to tune out.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Laurie Haggart

Published: 01/04/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Barnaby
Basset Hound
3 Months
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Barnaby
Basset Hound
3 Months

My puppy is starting to softly growl when people come in our house. He has also growled at a few people when we are out in our yard. He is great with my husband, my kids and I. He usually settles down after people have been in the house a while, but I would like to get this behavior under control since we have friends and family coming over regularly.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
830 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jordan, Check out the free e-Book AFTER You Get Your Puppy that you can download at the link below. Follow the socialization information in that book. https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Exposing Barnaby to lots of different types of people in many different locations and having those people give him treats when he responds well (you can premt any bad responses by having them reward him before he has a chance to react at all - by tossing him treats) if very important at this age. The growling at this age is likely due to fear because he needs more socialization around strangers. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Dolly
Basset Hound
10 Weeks
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Dolly
Basset Hound
10 Weeks

What is the best way to get my basset not to cry in her crate? I need to keep her in one while at work for about 3 hours a day.
When we start teaching her commands ? Should we only focus on potty training first ?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
830 Dog owners recommended

Hello Meagan, Puppies can learn several things at the same time, as long as you have time to teach things on top of potty training and not in place of it. Socialization, bite inhibition, and potty training are the most important things to work on with a young puppy - since most of those things can only fully be taught while a puppy is still young. You can certainly teach obedience too if you have additional time, but the window for teaching that doesn't close generally - there are benefits to teaching it while young though. Check out the "Surprise" method from the article linked below for teaching her to like a crate. Ignore any crying and reward her when she is quiet. Expect her to cry in the crate for up to two weeks - the training from the "Surprise' method below should help decrease that time though. Be consistent and don't let her out while crying unless you know she really does have to go potty (wait until a couple of seconds of quiet at least if you can). If you let her out when she cries the training will take a lot longer. She needs time to adjust and realize that she is safe in there and you will always come back to let her out later while she is calm. Give her food stuffed chew toys in the crate to keep her occupied while in there. You can even make those ahead of time and freeze them to help with teething and save time in the morning. The article linked below will explain how to do this. Like a crate: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Check out the article linked below for how to use a crate to potty train. Check out the "Crate Training" method. When you are home, take her out every 1-1.5 hours, when you need to be gone she should be able to hold her bladder while in a crate for 3 hours if she went potty right beforehand, but 3 hours is the maximum amount of time she will be able to hold it until she is a bit older. Typically puppies can hold their bladders for the number of months they are in age plus one. Meaning a 2 month old puppy can hold it for a maximum of 2-3 hours. A three month old puppy a maximum of 3-4 hours. A four month old puppy a maximum of 4-5 hours, until a puppy reaches the adult maximum of 8 hours during the day. Crate Training method for potty training: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Dash
Basset Hound
3 Years
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Dash
Basset Hound
3 Years

i want to be able to teach my dog to play more and lay down as well as to sit and make noise when i want him too. the only real problem with that is that he is an outside dog that is in his kennel all day while im at school or work so he only gets to be played with when im home. how can i get him to do these things. oh and i do give him treats and he sits and looks for those but otherwise hes a very good dog but i would love to get him even better!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
830 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sidney, Check out the following articles: Sit: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-sit Down: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-lay-down Speak: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-speak Fetch: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/ You can also teach pup games like hide n seek, finding treats you hide, tug, or tricks - choose what you want to teach based on pup's physical abilities and what sounds fun to you. Whether pup is an inside or outside dog you will need to make time to play with and have training sessions to teach pup. The training sessions don't have to be really lone (30 minutes is a good amount of time). Having them consistently is the most important thing. If you can have several training sessions a week it will help pup learn faster and retain what you are teaching. If you have the time you can train a bit every day or every other day. The more often you train the faster training will go but occasional training is still beneficial. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Buddy
Basset Hound
3 Years
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Buddy
Basset Hound
3 Years

Buddy is a rescue dog. He likes to bite at ankles when he is at a play mood and when he doesn't get his way attacks by trying to bite us. He gets very aggressive when told to stop. He sleeps a lot during the day and at night when we try to put him to bed he gets aggressive because he wants to play. Help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
830 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lilibeth, First, I suggest introducing a basket muzzle and having pup wear that while you are home, to keep you safe but also to help pup learn that biting doesn't get him his way and help break the habit. To introduce the muzzle, first place it on the ground and sprinkle his meal kibble around it. Do this until he is comfortable eating around it. Next, when he is comfortable with it being on the floor with food, hold it up and reward him with a piece of kibble every time he touches or sniffs it in your hand. Feed him his whole meal this way. Practice this until he is comfortable touching it. Next, hold a treat inside of it through the muzzle's holes, so that he has to poke his face into it to get the treat. As he gets comfortable doing that, gradually hold the treat further down into the muzzle, so that he has to poke his face all the way into the muzzle to get the treat. Practice until he is comfortable having his face in it. Next, feed several treats in a row through the muzzle's holes while he holds his face in the muzzle for longer. Practice this until he can hold his face in it for at least ten seconds while being fed treats. Next, when he can hold his face in the muzzle for ten seconds while remaining calm, while his face is in the muzzle move the muzzle's buckles together briefly, then feed him a treat through the muzzle. Practice this until he is not bothered by the buckles moving back and forth. Next, while he is wearing the muzzle buckle it and unbuckle it briefly, then feed a treat. As he gets comfortable with this step, gradually keep the muzzle buckled for longer and longer while feeding treats through the muzzle occasionally. Next, gradually increase how long he wears the muzzle for and decrease how often you give him a treat, until he can calmly wear the muzzle for at least an hour without receiving treats more than two treats during that hour. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s Under the supervision of a trainer I suggest working on boundaries with pup, and gently but firmly building respect through having pup work more. Teach a structured heel and a solid - long Place command. Place command is a great impulse control building command, and has the bonus of helping to build respect and calmness, plus helps manage behavior when people come over. Work up to him being able to stay on Place for 1-2 hours. How you teach these commands matters - with reactivity or aggression issues, calmness, business-like attitude, and slightly firm is important - but not anger, yelling, or unnecessarily roughness. Just being consistent about enforcing rules calmly and teaching his mind. Pup needs to be wearing the basket muzzle as a norm while you are home, and crated while you are away. View this as a doggie bootcamp for right now. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Working and Consistency methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Waylon
Basset Hound
8 Months
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Waylon
Basset Hound
8 Months

Waylon struggles with listening to any commands. He also likes to jump on the counter tops, tables etc to reach food. How can I break this behavior

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Waylon is ready for obedience classes. The instruction of a certified trainer can go a long way. I've seen disobedient, out of control dogs completely turn around after a month of classes. In the meantime, until you sign him up, there are great tips here: https://wagwalking.com/training/obedience-train-a-great-dane. Practice in 10-15 minute sessions daily and be consistent. For the counter: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-jump-on-the-counter. And importantly, for the listening: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you. Keep working with Waylon. It will be worth the work! Good luck!

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Sophie
Basset Hound
3 Years
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Sophie
Basset Hound
3 Years

She is aggressive sometimes very territorial, can’t trust other people in the house with her. Se wants food all the time will grout and bark if you don’t give her .i need help because she is very sweet as well and just gets angry out of nowhere

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
225 Dog owners recommended

Hello! This type of behavior is often solved by implementing indirect routines and behavior changes. We often scold in the moment, but that doesn't solve the deeper issue. Which is her need to not only keep her brain stimulated because he is a working breed, but she is also sensing that he NEEDS to be protective in certain settings. It sounds like she is being a bit territorial. And that is ok! But it is not needed. Below are some tips to help with your situation. Start Obedience Training Obedience training is a must for every dog, and it’s especially important for overprotective dogs. Working with your dog on things like “sit-stay,” “down-stay,” and “heel,” will help build her impulse control. She will start seeing you as a capable leader and will turn to you for guidance. A mistake many pup parents make is stopping obedience training once their dog masters the basics skills. Being well-trained is about more than knowing how to sit when a person holds a treat in front of their face. It’s a lifetime lesson, and even senior dogs need regular training. Commit to training your dog several times a day for short periods of time. Make Your Dog Work for Affection You can’t help but smother your dog with love every time she’s within petting distance, but that isn’t always what’s best for her. She will start to feel entitled to your attention, and that’s part of the problem. To remedy this, initiate a “work for it” program that allows you to show your dog affection as long as she earns your attention in appropriate ways. Make her sit, stay calm, and do whatever else you ask before doling out whatever it is she wants. If she’s excited for dinner, make her sit and leave it before digging in. If she wants in your lap, ask her to do a trick first. Never give your dog attention if she rudely nudges your hand or barks in your face. She needs to know polite behavior, and polite behavior only, is how she gets what she wants. You ignore everything else. Involve Other People in the Dog’s Life Most overprotective dogs choose to guard only the person they feel closest to. It’s usually the same person who fills their food bowls, takes them on walks, and handles training. They become obsessively attached, and a strong bond gradually mutates into overprotective behavior. Putting some space between you and your dog will help her learn to trust other people. Enlist the entire family’s help and take a step back in your role as primary caregiver. Have someone else feed the dog a few times a week, and encourage other people to engage his in playtime. This will help her be more comfortable with different people. Socialize Socialization is best done during the puppy stages, but even adult and senior dogs benefit from new experiences. Exposing your overprotective dog to new places, experiences, and people, will help him learn that not everyone is out to hurt you. Make sure each new experience is positive, and encourage your dog without forcing her to interact. If your dog is afraid, you don’t want to make things worse. Take socialization at the pace she’s comfortable with. If she seems overwhelmed, back up and try something a little smaller. These are some general ideas and they can be modified to fit your dynamic. These behaviors do take time, I am talking months, to correct. And sometimes the behaviors get worse before they get better. So just push through that time if that starts to happen. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Charlie
Basset Hound mix
8 Weeks
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Charlie
Basset Hound mix
8 Weeks

She only poops on the carpet, pees under the bed, and she play bites

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
830 Dog owners recommended

Hello India, Check out the Crate Training and Tethering methods from the article linked below. I suggest the crate training method, or a combination of the two for potty training. Potty training: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside For the biting, check out the article I have linked below and starting today follow the Bite Inhibition method. Go ahead and also start teaching pup the Leave It method today, so that once pup has gotten good at Leave It, you can also use that command to stop the biting completely as she gets older. Leave It and Bite Inhibition methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Finally, you can download the free PDF e-book AFTER You Get Your Puppy from the link below. That book discusses commong puppy issues like the biting and potty training, among other topics. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Baker
Basset Hound
2 Years
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Baker
Basset Hound
2 Years

He does not listen. He jumps on the counter, we yell no and he keeps doing it. We yell down and we scream and clap and he just keeps doing it until we get up and swipe his paws down. He gets into things and we catch him in the act, yell NO, take it away and he looks devastated and turns around and does it again. I'm exhausted after 2 years, he's usually good when I am sitting next to him, I think it is all for attention, and he's stubborn.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
830 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I would start by teaching pup Leave It. Check out the section on how to teach leave it from the article linked below. For things pup tends to chew repetitively, check out the section in the article below on using deterrent sprays, like bitter apple also: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ In addition to Leave It for the counter jumping and chewing, I also recommend creating an aversion to jumping on the counter itself, to help pup not do it even when you aren't there too. There are a few ways to do this. You can place something like a scat mat on the counter and put a food temptation further back on the counter just out of reach - when pup jumps up the mat gives a static shock - nothing harsh but its uncomfortable and surprising. You can also set up Snap Traps covered lightly with unfolded napkins. When pup touches them on the edge of the counter, they will jump up and make a snapping sound - startling pup. These are designed for this type of purpose so won't actually close on pup like real mouse traps would - don't use real mouse traps because of the risk of injury. You can also stack metal pot lids and pans precariously on the counter. Tie a strong string like twine through all of them and back tie the whole contraption to something secure so that when they fall they can't fall all the way off the counter, then tie another string to the lip or pan that's supporting the precarious set up and tie the other end of that string to a safe food booby trap, like a whole bagel sitting on the counter. The idea is that when pup jumps up and grabs the food, they will pull the objects over and create a loud crashing noise that will surprise them. Because of the back tie string the objects should not fall on pup though. With all of these setups, you will need to set up a camera to spy on pup from the other room and be ready to run in and remove any food left on the counter or floor, so that pup doesn't return to the scene of the crime once things are calm and eat the food anyway - otherwise they may decide that its still worth it to jump up. You will need to practice this setup often with pup in different parts of the counter and with different foods. Don't use any food that could harm pup if they were to eat it - like chicken bones, grapes, chocolate, xylitol, nuts, garlic, or onion. When not practicing the trap, keep counters clean and pup confined away from the area or tethered to you with a hands free leash until pup has thoroughly learned the lesson - jumping up and not being surprised and potentially grabbing food, will negate your training efforts - you want pup to think that the counter is always suspicious now so they give up on jumping up. I would also work on stimulating pup more mentally - things like feeding pup their kibble in kongs, kong wobbles, puzzle toys, ect...taking pup on walks and practicing obedience commands like heel, sit stay, down stay, having short training sessions daily to wear pup out mentally to help with boredom, teaching things like fetch if pup enjoys toys, and incorporating things like Wait, Sit, Down, Come, Drop It, and other commands into that activity, or treat hiding type games where pup can use his nose (be sure to only do this in a safe, pesticide free area when outside). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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