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If you want to teach your Beagle to come when called, also known as recall, you have come to the right place! This guide includes three different methods so that you can teach the basics of this behavior, learn how to practice it with a fun game, and “proof” your recall so that it will be strong regardless of when or where you use it.
Beagles as a breed are at higher risk of running off to chase a scent than some other breeds. This means that no matter how good your Beagle’s recall is, she may still choose to chase down a fresh trail than to come to you no matter how much you have practiced this valuable skill. Her drive to chase a scent is a powerful one, so make sure she is always leashed around traffic or other dangerous conditions.
It is still worth spending time to teach your Beagle to come when called, even if he will never be 100% safe to let off leash. Being able to recall your dog in an emergency situation may save his life. The time you invest in teaching and practicing this valuable life skill may one day come in very handy.
Working on your Beagle’s recall is not just about having great training sessions, it is also about following some basic guidelines for success. Remember that the idea is to teach your Beagle that coming to you when you call him is a rewarding experience.
Here are some specific tips for success when teaching recall:
- Never let recall training turn into a game where you chase your dog, which would be rewarding your Beagle with a fun game for NOT following the command.
- Run away from, not towards, your dog if she fails to respond to the recall command within a few seconds.
- Start your training in a low distraction environment and gradually add distractions over time.
- Never punish or take something good away from your dog if she just came in response to the recall command.
- Remember your goal is to make coming to you when called a more rewarding proposition than the distractions in any given environment.
Before getting started with training your Beagle to come when called, you will need:
Rewards – Different dogs enjoy different rewards. Luckily, most Beagles are food motivated so you can use some treats cut into pea-sized pieces. You can also use other motivators like a squeaky ball or a tug with her favorite stuffed animal. Varying the motivators that you use during your recall training will help strengthen the behavior.
Long Line – Once you are ready to start working on recall outside, you will want a long 25’ or longer rope or leash so that you can safely put some distance between you and your Beagle to practice recall drills. This will also allow you to be able to “enforce” the recall by reeling her in if she fails to come when called.
Positive Attitude – Remember that dogs learn fastest when training is fun. Our methods will focus on the use of rewards, but it is up to you to bring patience to the table for your training sessions. You may have to ignore some failures along the way but stay focused on rewarding success and your Beagle will be coming when called in no time!
The Basic Skills Method
This is the first method you should use to give your Beagle a basic understanding of how recall works. Make sure to start your training in a familiar, indoor environment in order to minimize the chance your dog will be distracted.
When your Beagle is a few feet away from you, start to run away from her and then say her name followed by “Come!” Make sure to say the recall command in an excited and positive tone of voice. Most dogs will instinctively give chase when someone runs away. As soon as she catches up to you, place your hand on her collar or harness before giving her a nice reward. Repeat 10-20 times.
Continue the last step, adding some distance to each try so that you are calling her from further and further away. You can even try calling from around the corner for a challenge. Reward generously for success and ignore failures at this stage.
Move the training outside when your Beagle seems to understand and enjoy doing recall drills and has had at least 5 sessions of practicing indoors. If your yard is not fenced, use the long line to make sure you can retrieve him if he tries to run after a scent trail. Repeat several sessions a day, increasing distance as you go.
Once your Beagle is reliably coming when called outdoors, you can start to add consequences for when she fails to come when called. Luckily, you are working with the long line so this will be easy. Give your Beagle three seconds to respond to the recall then reel her in with the long line and put her in the kennel or alone in a room for three minutes. Continue to use the “Time Out” every time your Beagle fails to come when called.
Move on to the 'Proofing' method when you are ready to really make your Beagle’s recall even stronger.
The Recall Game Method
One of the most fun ways to teach your Beagle to come when called is this fun recall game. It will require you get a few helpers – and kids are perfect for the job! Make sure each has a small bag of treats before getting started.
Have your helpers sit in a circle and alternate calling your Beagle to them in a fun and inviting way. It’s okay to “bribe” him with a treat the first few rounds.
Once your dog gets to the person that last called them, be sure they touch his collar before giving a treat and lots of praise. If they hold the pup while the next person calls, it can make this game even more fun, as your Beagle will try even harder to rush to the person calling her.
Once your dog is getting the hang of this game, you can add some challenge by making the circle bigger, eventually even calling him from different rooms in the house.
Take it oustide
For a great way to practice recall, and give your Beagle some great exercise, take this game outside. You can use a long-line if safety is a concern. Make sure to keep it fun and exciting so that he will look forward to this fun recall game.
The Proofing Method
Why you need to proof
After your Beagle has the basics of recall, and you have practiced it at home for a few months, then it is time to start thinking about “proofing” the behavior. This means adding distractions and challenges under controlled conditions to set your dog up for success and enforce the recall in a variety of circumstances.
Take your dog to as many new places as you can think of in order to make sure she knows to come when called, no matter where she is. Use the long line if you think there is a chance your Beagle could get into trouble. By now you should be enforcing the recall. That is, if your Beagle does not come when called, be sure she gets a three-minute “Time Out” in the crate before you resume your training or play.
Think about what kinds of distractions are powerful for your Beagle. It is time to think about how to add those distractions in a way that will allow you to recall him past them, while enforcing the recall with a long line, and rewarding heavily for success. For example, if your Beagle loves to socialize, have your neighbor have their dog on a leash and call your Beagle past without allowing any interactions. Reward generously for success.
If you want your Beagle to come when called no matter who calls her, be sure to do recall drills with other people to make sure she knows that the recall command always applies.
You are ready to start getting picky about which recalls you are going to reward. Make sure you start to choose only the most instant and enthusiastic recalls to reward. You should still not correct or punish slower recalls since you never want your dog to think if he come to you he will be punished. That is a sure-fire way to break a recall!
When to NOT recall
Stop using recall unless you feel confident your Beagle will come, or you can enforce the recall if she does not. Every time your call your dog and she does whatever she wants rather than come to you, you are breaking the power of your recall.
By Sharon Elber
Published: 02/05/2018, edited: 01/08/2021