How to Train Your Beagle Dog to Stop Biting

How to Train Your Beagle Dog to Stop Biting
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon7-21 Days
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

There is arguably nothing quite so sweet as a Beagle puppy...those big floppy ears, the big brown eyes...and everything they do is cute. When he was little, it seemed cute when the puppy attacked your hand. His lips were soft and his whiskers bristly, and it was funny that this little scrap was bold enough to take you on. Besides, which, those bites didn't really hurt, just scratches really.

Only now he's grown into an adult dog and those play bites aren't quite so funny. In fact, they hurt. Clearly, he isn't being malicious, the tail wags and he seems generally delighted by the game, but you don't find it amusing anymore. You've tried pulling your hand away, shouting, and even resorted to smacking, but all that happens is he gets more excited and ramps up the fun. 

What to do? 

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Defining Tasks

Biting behavior, whether in fun or something more serious, should never be tolerated. But, this doesn't mean punishing the dog (which is liable to increase tension and make matters worse). Instead, it's important to know the appropriate way to react so that the dog calms down or redirects his mouth to a more appropriate object, such as a toy. 

Ideally, start by teaching bite inhibition to a puppy. This can require you to use techniques such as timeout out or redirecting play onto a toy. An adult dog, with the potential to do harm, is a more serious prospect to deal with. Consider the suggestions below, but also know that for safety's sake it may be necessary to consult a certified behaviorist and have a safe strategy put in place. 

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Getting Started

Teaching a Beagle not to bite is mostly a matter of how you react and timing, rather than special equipment. However, you will find the following training aids a great help.

  •  Pea-sized training treats
  • A treat pouch or bag, for easy access while retraining
  • A tug toy
  • Balls or toys to play fetch with. 

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The Teach Bite Inhibition Method

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1

Understand the idea

Puppies learn acceptable behavior from the reaction of their littermates. When playing rough and tumble games, if a puppy bites, his playmate will squeal, sending out the message that the nip was too hard. Next time the puppy plays using a softer mouth, having learned 'bite inhibition'. This can also be taught by an owner to their dog, in order to have a puppy (or dog) that isn't mouthy.

2

Help the puppy understand

Your Beagle needs to learn that teeth against human skin hurt, and that it's not appropriate behavior. Play with your dog, but if he bites your hand, let out a high-pitched squeal and let your arm go limp. The dog should look startled and stop in his tracks. Your squeal has told the dog in a language he understands that the bite was too hard.

3

And if he doesn't back off...

However, if the Beagle doesn't get the message say "Too bad" in a stern voice and withdraw from the game.

4

Practice and praise the pup

Let's say the pup bit, you squealed, and he backed down. Now praise him and give a small reward. Then continue the game. What you are subtly doing is rewarding the good (non-nipping) play, which makes the dog more likely to repeat it.

5

Time out

If the dog is slow to catch on or gets over-excited by the squealing, the next option is to withdraw attention and institute "Time out." This is a matter of ending the game, folding your arms, and ignoring the dog when he bites, you yelp, and he carries on. If the dog continues to throw himself at you, for the worst offenders, you may need to leave the room. Again, the message the dog receives is that the game ends if he plays rough...and since Beagles love play and fun, he won't want the game to end.

The What NOT To Do Method

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Don't ignore biting

Never be brave and tolerate biting. If you let the dog bite, even in play, he won't understand that human skin is fragile. Instead he'll think you aren't feeling anything and may nip even harder next time. Always take appropriate action, such as squealing or time out, so that he gets the message.

2

Do NOT attempt to manage an aggressive dog yourself

Rare as a truly aggressive dog is, you should never try to manage the problem by yourself. There's a good chance you may make the issue worse, which could be dangerous. Instead, seek help from a certified animal behaviorist, who will assess the dog's triggers and put a plan of action in place to keep everyone safe.

3

Do NOT jerk your hand away

Short, sharp movements, such as jerking your arm away, may be mistaken by the dog for play. Reacting with a jerk may accidentally encourage the dog to bite, rather than deter him. Instead, be sure to let your arm and hand go limp, or slowly fold your arms putting your hands out of sight.

4

Do not strike or hit the dog

Physical punishment when he bites may excite the dog further or make him fearful of you. Since anxiety is a common cause of biting, this is liable to make the situation far worse.

5

Don't encourage him to play with your hands and feet

It sounds obvious, but it's easy to overlook: don't actively encourage the dog to view your limbs as toys. If he shows interest in chasing your feet, stand still and produce a toy from your pocket to distract him. By doing this, it discourages teeth from contacting skin.

6

Do give an outlet for chewing

And last but not least, give your dog plenty of opportunities to chew, since this satisifies a deep-seated need to exercise the teeth and jaws. By expending energy in a healthy way, the dog is less likely to nip things he shouldn't, such as your hands.

The Redirect the Bite Method

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Understand the idea

It is a rare Beagle that is truly aggressive. Instead, it's more likely his bite is inappropriate play behavior. Indeed, Beagles are dogs that love to mouthing objects and holding something in their mouth. This method focuses on redirecting biting behavior onto a toy or something more appropriate than your skin.

2

Substitute a toy

If your Beagley-friend wants to play and nips at your hands, distract him with a toy. Wiggle the toy so that it moves, which instantly makes it more interesting to the dog. At the same time, hold still the hand that has the dog's attention, which makes it less enticing as a toy. When the dog switches his attention to the toy, praise him and engage in an active game of fetch or tug as a further reward.

3

Encourage non-contact play

If your dog keeps making lunges for your hands then desist from games that involve direct touch, and play fetch or tug. Keep a tug toy in your pocket, and then when the dog shows signs of being mouthy, redirect his energy to the toy. Eventually, the dog will look for a toy to latch onto and will leave your hands alone.

4

Teach self-control

Basic obedience training such as 'sit', 'stay', and 'look', can save the day. By teaching these commands the dog learns to listen and focus on you.To do this he must control impulsive behavior, such as biting, hence giving him time to calm down.

5

Provide opportunities to play with other dogs

If your dog gets over-excited but isn't aggressive, then giving the dog the opportunity to play with others can give him feedback of the canine-kind to help him understand his bite is unwanted. However, if the bites are aggressive, then this option is not appropriate and instead you should seek the advice of a professional dog behaviorist.

By Pippa Elliott

Published: 12/19/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Skippy

Dog breed icon

Beagle

Dog age icon

13 Weeks

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Question

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

He bites all the time, we have tried everything, but he insist on biting...ouch...help!

Jan. 22, 2021

Skippy's Owner

Expert avatar

Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

Jan. 23, 2021

Dog nametag icon

Maggie

Dog breed icon

Beagle

Dog age icon

3 Months

Question icon

Question

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

My beagle puupy only wantrs to bite my 7 year old son in the ankle. She mostly never bites anyone else in the house.

Jan. 7, 2021

Maggie's Owner

Expert avatar

Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

257 Dog owners recommended

Hello. Here is information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

Jan. 7, 2021


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