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Maybe the Hound of the Baskervilles was part Beagle.
Your pup could certainly give Sherlock Holmes' famous hound a run for his money, as you had no idea so much noise could come out of such a small puppy. The trouble is, what at first was quite a cute problem (a tiny puppy having a ridiculously loud bark) has now gone beyond a joke.
You've shouted at the puppy to be silent, but he stares right back, wags his tail... and then you swear barks even more loudly. Out of desperation, you gave him a chew. This did the trick all right, only now you're beginning to suspect that he starts barking in order to have you silence him with a treat.
How can such a small, cute puppy run such rings around you.... and boy are your ears ringing to the sound of his barks.
Beagles love the sound of their own voice, so a wise owner discourages a puppy from developing a barking habit. However, this isn't about shouting at the pup to be quiet, as he may well think you are trying to join in. Instead, it helps to understand why a puppy might bark (boredom, fear, or to warn you of a threat) and use strategies to remove the need to bark.
In addition, you can train the dog to be quiet, and then reward the silence. This way, being silent is a positive decision on the part of the Beagle pup, but one that he understands earns a reward. This takes not barking from being a passive activity, into the action of not-barking--which is then rewarded.
Training a dog not to bark can be a big task. However, with time and patience, you can teach your Beagle pup that silence is golden. The basics that you need to achieve the aim include:
- Tasty training treats
- A pouch or bag to keep the treats handy
- Window frosting or a cafe-type half-curtain
The Understand Dog Method
Understand the idea
When a puppy barks he is communicating. It might be he's saying there's a threat at the door or that he's excited, or even that he's bored. Whatever the reason he starts barking, it's important to react in a way that doesn't accidentally encourage the woofs rather than stop them. By realizing how dogs communicate you can avoid making mistakes that make matters worse, not better.
Ignore the barking
If the worst comes to the worst, and you don't know what to do when the dog barks--then do nothing. While this isn't satisfactory in all circumstances, it is the one action that is unlikely to make matters worse. The golden rule here is that puppies (and dogs) love attention. If he barks and you shout at him to be quiet, you are accidentally rewarding the barking and he may think you shouting is an attempt at barking along. With this logic, if the pup does an experimental bark or two, and nothing at all happens, he may just give it up as not worth the effort as a way of gaining attention.
Leave the room
If puppy barks and then runs to you, while barking, then walk away and leave the room. Some pups regard barking as a group activity, and if their audience goes away, then they will fall silent.
Acknowledge the barking
Hey, hold on, didn't you just say to ignore the barking? Yes, but this is subtly different. If someone comes to the door and the dog barks, then he's trying to communicate that he's protecting you. In this example, let him know that he's done his job and you are aware of the situation. Let him bark two or three times, then say in an upbeat voice, "Thank you, Rover. Good bark. I'll take it from here." By acknowledging his alert you allow him to stand down.
Reward the quiet
Take things a step further. Puppy barks at the door, you say "Thank you, I'll take it from here," and as soon as the dog falls silent you give him a reward. Hence, he learns being stood down is a neat way to get a treat, and it will encourage him to be quiet in future.
The Deal with Triggers Method
Understand the idea
Does the puppy bark at the mailman? Or does he bark at people walking by in the street? These are known as triggers, and by knowing what's most likely to start the puppy barking, you can reduce the impact of the trigger factors so that barking becomes less of an ingrained habit as he grows up.
The door bell
Does the puppy bark when someone comes to the door? The puppy may get excited when he hears the door bell and starts barking. Try giving the pup an alternative task to do, such as going to his bed or giving him a favorite toy. While he's concentrating on the action, he's less likely to bark. You can try tossing a treat onto his bed, and encourage him to follow. Say "Go to bed", and then praise him when he runs after the treat (or toy).
Block the view
Seeing people in the street is a common reason to bark. This is particularly habit forming as it is self-rewarding in that the dog barks and the person walks away; job done, in the dog's mind. You need to prevent the dog seeing the people in the first instance. This can mean preventing access to a sofa back or window ledge that the pup uses as a viewing platform. Or obscure the view through the lower half of the window using a cafe-style curtain or a frosted-glass stickyback plastic.
A puppy, especially a Beagle puppy, has very sensitive hearing. He may find some of the noises he hears scary and this can trigger him to bark. Provide a gentle background sound, such as leaving a radio on playing quiet classical music. This can help to mask intruding noise and settle the pup.
Provide a distraction
The puppy can't chew and bark at the same time. Being a beagle he's strongly food motivated, so use this to reduce barking. When guests are anticipated and therefore he's liable to bark, ahead of their arrival give him a puzzle feeder with peanut butter inside or else a highly prized chew toy. With his mouth occupied with the treat, he won't want to bark.
The Do's and Don'ts Method
Don't: Shout at the puppy
Shouting can be misinterpreted as barking by the puppy. He may think you want to join in and this makes him more excited--and more likely to bark than before.
Don't: Accidentally reward barking
Be careful about giving a barking puppy treats, as he will think the barking is being rewarded. For example, when visitors arrive, don't give the pup a chew stick while he's barking in order to make him quiet. He will then think if he barks he gets a chew stick.
Do: Get the dog to earn a reward
So you know a chew stick will quiet the dog so that your visitors hold a conversation. Instead of giving the chew to a barking pup, have him earn it by following a command such as "Sit" or "Look". This way you are reward the action 'sit' rather than the barking.
Don't: Use inappropriate training aids
Congratulations! You have a Beagle pup. To a certain extent, barking goes with the territory. If you wanted a completely silent dog then a Beagle is a poor choice. Do not use harsh training aids such as shock collars in order to intimidate your pup into silence. He's only being a Beagle.
Do: Enlist the help of friends
Ask friends to help you train the pup not to bark. Have them call and enter the house, but only greet the puppy when he's quiet (and not barking.) Make sure they blank any barking, but make a big fuss of the puppy when he's quiet... and it's quite OK to give him treats when he's silent.
By Pippa Elliott
Published: 02/02/2018, edited: 01/08/2021