By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2014
Are Beagles easy to train?
Not really, no. In fact, training Beagles can be a real challenge. Let me tell you about Mitzi, a 4-year-old Beagle who came through one of my obedience training classes.
Mitzi was a perfect Beagle.
Now, by perfect I don't mean perfectly-behaved. I mean that Mitzi was a perfect example of what it's like to train a Beagle. Which is to say, challenging.
Like all hunting hounds, most Beagles don't care that much about pleasing their owner, you see. Beagles tend to have an independent, "what's in it for me" attitude that can make training a bit of a headache.
Beagles are also easily distracted. Mitzi's owner would give commands, but Mitzi was paying no attention. Her head was swiveling around, nose sniffing, looking at everything except her owner. Sure, you could get Mitzi's attention if you bribed her with a treat – Beagles love food – but that's not a sensible way to train a Beagle. Who wants a dog who only obeys when you're waving a cookie?
The good news, at least, is that Mitzi's temperament was friendly and stable. Which is more than can be said, unfortunately, for all the Beagles out there with UNstable temperaments. Obedience instructors and behavioral consultants like myself see plenty of Beagles who are aggressive, fearful, or neurotic. Training these Beagles takes patience and skill and often the assistance of a professional trainer.
So when you ask, "How easy is it – training Beagles?" my answer is, "Usually it's a challenge, but it depends on the temperament and personality of the individual dog, plus your own dog training skills."
That's where I come in. Keep reading my dog training articles (and hopefully buy my book, "Teach Your Dog 100 English Words") and I will help you train your Beagle to be well-mannered and well-behaved. I've been working with dogs for 35+ years, as a dog trainer, canine psychologist, breed advisor, and author of 15 books about dogs.
Dog Training – What Works, and What Doesn't
Some dog training methods are based on what makes the OWNER feel good, rather than what on actually makes sense to the dog. For example, "positive-only" dog training is a big fad right now. Now, treats can be great motivators for training Beagles, but if your dog will only obey for a treat, then HE is in charge of his obedience, not you. [read more]
Here are my dog training tips for training Beagle puppies and adult dogs:
Keep your Beagle on-leash. Beagles are hunting dogs who follow their nose and chase anything that runs. Yes, certainly you want to teach your Beagle to "Come" when called – you must work hard on this – but count on this command being most useful when you're calling your Beagle inside your fenced yard. An unleashed and unfenced Beagle who is in pursuit of a squirrel will ignore your Come command and could be hit by a car. Beagles are not an off-leash breed.
Provide enough exercise. Beagles were developed to be working dogs, not pets to hang around the house or stick out in the yard. Your Beagle puppy needs to vent his energy through exercise and active play sessions – else he will vent it through destructive chewing, baying and howling, or hyperactivity. Too many owners think they can coop up their Beagle in an apartment, walk him once or twice a day, then take him to an obedience class to "train out" all the undesirable behaviors. Wrong.
Keep your Beagle securely fenced. Many Beagles can climb like monkeys and will scale a 6-foot chain link fence. Other Beagles will dig under. Training isn't the solution to confining a master escape artist. Instead, you need to provide enough exercise to keep your Beagle satisfied, plus an ultra-secure fence to keep him safely contained.
Teach your Beagle puppy to respect you. Respect is the key to training your Beagle to be well-haved. [read more about Respect Training]
Teach the right words to your Beagle. My method of training Beagles includes teaching specific words in specific ways so that your dog not only learns the words but also develops the respectful attitude that makes him happy to obey you. You will need to work especially hard on "Come" (because Beagles are independent chasers and will take off on you) and "Quiet" (because Beagles can be hyper-alert and thus noisy). Also you should work on "No" and "Stop that", which will keep your Beagle from getting into all kinds of trouble. "No" and "Stop that" are among the first words I show you how to teach in my book. [read more about teaching words to your Beagle]
Stop searching for dog training tips for each behavior problem. Honestly, one of the most common questions owners ask me is: "How can I stop my dog from doing (some specific behavior)?" They're hoping I'll tell them where to find a secret button on the back of their dog's head that will trigger a MISBEHAVIOR-OFF switch. :-) Alas, my answer is almost always the same, no matter what the misbehavior is. Here it is.... [read more about stopping dog behavior problems]
Start training your Beagle puppy the moment you bring him home. But you need to teach the right things in the right ways. If you use the wrong teaching method, your puppy will begin making decisions about how he wants you to fit into HIS life, and that's a recipe for conflict and behavior problems. Here's my recommended schedule (what to teach, when to teach it) for training your Beagle puppy. [read more about training Beagle puppies]
Start housebreaking right away. But expect it to go slowly. Like most hounds, Beagles are not always clean dogs and it can take awhile for them to catch on to housebreaking. [read more about housebreaking Beagles]
Socialize your Beagle puppy with strangers and other dogs. This is usually not difficult because most Beagles love everyone and are excellent with other pets. However, there do exist Beagles who are painfully shy or even nasty toward strangers. [read more about why your dog acts the way he does toward strangers and other animals]
Copyright © 2000-2014 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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