Beagles seem like smart dogs, but are they easy to train? The only thing I love more than animals are trained animals, so I did some research to see whether or not beagles are easy to train. Here is what I found.
So, are beagles easy to train? Most professional breeders agree that beagles are a difficult animal to train. Beagles are hunting dogs and are driven by scent. Beagles have been known to listen to their nose more than their screaming trainer. However, a dedicated trainer can teach their beagle to listen and overcome instinct.
Beagles are fun and energetic, but their lack of focus can frustrate amateur trainers who are accustomed to working with more disciplined dog breeds. In order to properly train your beagle you will need to learn why they act the way they do, and what you can do to more effectively work with them.
Why is it so Difficult to Train Beagles?
Beagles are adorable. When they run, they seem to bounce up and down with energy. Their coats are short and shiny, and their spotted fur pattern is always fashionable. But one of the things that I love most about beagles is their seemingly endless energy.
Just ask anyone who has ever been in the same room as a beagle. They are a lot like 7 year-old children, bouncing off the walls and screaming non-stop.
Now, don’t get me wrong I love a beagle’s boisterous attitude as much as the next guy, but you have to admit, it does make them somewhat difficult to train doesn’t it?
Why is it that beagels can’t seem to focus. Not even dog treats can manage to hold their attention for more than a minute or two and dog treats can get most other breeds to do almost anything.
What is so different about the beagle?
Ye Olde Beagle
It may surprise you to learn that beagles were actually originally bred for hunting. After all, beagles don’t seem to have the size or robust ego that a lot of other hunting dogs do.
Our modern day beagle is descended from an English breed that was around some 600 years ago. These old beagles were somewhat larger and faster than the breed we know and love today, but had the same willful attitude.
Hunters would release packs of beagles, who could sniff out foxes or rabbits, and follow them until they found their prey.
While these dogs needed great skill to find and take down prey they were hunting, they also needed energy and determination to find the creatures that they were hunting.
Birth of the Modern-Day Beagle
The modern day beagle came about in the beginning of the 18th century. Beagles were bred to be both capable hunters and attractive companions. The result was a breed with beautiful white coat, and powerful legs that could run at great speeds for miles on end.
Today, beagles are still used as hunting dogs although they have exploded in popularity as house pets thanks to Charlie Brown (Go Snoopy!) and other favorable media portrayels.
Your pet beagle is probably unaware of his proud fox-hunting history, but his hunting instincts remain intact. Maybe you have noticed how quickly your beagle shifts attention, or that he seems more interested in chasing squirrels or harassing cats then he does learning to sit or shake hands.
These are all vestigial attitudes of your beagles past. The energy they have can be a bit exhausting at times, but it is what makes beagles so fun to be around.
They jump and lick your face whenever you come home from work, and are always down to go for a walk or play Frisbee.
Just because the proud former hunter has joined the humble communities of suburban America, doesn’t make them any less energetic. And I will be the first to admit that all that energy can be less than desirable at times, but what can you do?
After all, didn’t we just talk about how manic energy was in a beagle’s genes?
That may be true, but that doesn’t mean beagles are untrainable. With a little tenacity, you can house-break your beagle and even teach him a few cool tricks. Here are some cool tricks and strategies you can use to help manage your wild beagle.
My Beagle Won’t Listen to Me! Some Tips for the Frustrated Owner
Training a beagle can feel like screaming at an empty field. You shout and holler and even the grass seems to be ignoring you. Maybe training a beagle can feel even less productive than that. I mean, at least I have heard that shouting at plants is good for them.
Yes, it can be frustrating to train your beagle, but it doesn’t have to be. If you go in prepared you may still hit the occasional snag, but you will have the tools needed to overcome anything your feisty little beagle throws at you.
Let’s look at the steps you need to take in order to train your beagle.
Beagle Training Overview
First, let’s summarize the steps you will be taking to train and then break them down one at a time.
- Be the alpha male
- Establish a training/exercise schedule
- Learn how to motivate your beagle
- Teach your Beagle basic commands
- House-breaking your beagle
Training your beagle is a simple process, but it isn’t always easy. Let’s break down each of our steps so you can get a better idea of how to successfully train your rambunctious beagle.
Be the Alpha Male
Beagles are mega extroverts and like most extroverts, automatically take the lead in whatever situation they find themselves in. The problem that most trainers have is that it’s just so darn cute when a beagle takes control that we let them do it, “Oohing” and “Awwing” all the while.
If you want your dog to behave then you need to take control of the situation and let your beagle know that you are the leader of the pack.
*Pro Tip! Beagles respond better to positive reinforcement than punishment.
Establish a Training/Exercise Schedule
One of the best things you can do to help your beagle know that you are in control is to follow a strict exercise schedule. While outside playing and exercising, you can teach your beagle the difference between acceptable and bad behavior.
Taking your beagle out everyday can be difficult, so I have drawn up a schedule that you could use to help get you started.
|7:00 – 7:30 AM||Take your dog for a walk and let him do his business.|
|8:00 AM||Give your beagle his breakfast|
|9:00 AM||Go to work. Leave your dog outside for fun and private time. Make sure you leave him something for lunch.|
|5:00 PM||Feed your dog dinner|
|6:00 – 6:30 PM||Take your dog for a walk|
|7:00 – 8:00 PM||Playtime! Fetch, find the treat, tug-o-war are all good options|
|8:30 PM||Bath and prepare for bed|
Obviously, this schedule can be changed to fulfill your individual needs. When you take your dog out on walks is optimal training time.
When walking your dog, make sue that you are teaching your dog obedience. You should always be in control of the leash, not the other way around.
*Pro Tip! Beagles listen best when they have gotten plenty of exercise. You should take your Beagle out at least twice a day!
Learn How to Motivate Your Beagle
Beagles are easily distracted. They are better at following their noses than they are at listening to commands. If you want your beagle to listen to you, then you will have to find out what best motivates it.
No two beagles are exactly alike. They each have their own identities, likes, and dislikes. What motivates one beagle really well may not necessarily work for another.
That being said, there are several tried and true methods that have worked well for a variety of breeders and trainers. Here are a few of them to give you some ideas.
- Reward your beagle with an extra long walk or favorite game. Beagles love being outside and running around. If your beagle does something praiseworthy, why not celebrate it with some time together?
- Use a beagles super-sniffer to your advantage. A lot of people think that a beagles hyper-active nose is a curse, but it is really a super power! Train your dog to sniff out a treat or a favorite toy that you have hidden somewhere in the house. This is a great way to learn discipline while using their unique abilities.
- Reward your beagle with a thorough grooming session. Beagles love being brushed just as much as any other dog. If your beagle has had an especially good day, bring out the brush for a special reward.
- Try using a nice warm bath as motivation. Some beagles really don’t like baths, but a lot of others think it is the bee’s knees! See if a warm bath is something your beagle likes and then use it to your advantage.
- Belly rubs and lavishing praise are your go to tools. Nothing works better. These are the bread and butter of the beagle training world. Praise your dog every time he does something good and your beagle is sure to behave himself.
A Brief Note on Chastisement
Beagles do not respond well to criticism, but that doesn’t mean that a firm “no isn’t sometimes necessary. If your dog makes a mistake (and he his bound to do it eventually) the best thing to do is the withdraw positive attention.
For example, if you are rough housing and your dog starts to bite, stop playing immediately. Ending playtime is enough to let your dog know that his behavior was unacceptable.
*Pro Tip! You can motivate your beagle with treats, but beagles trained with treats tend to be overweight. Stick to heavy praising and that should get the job done. Treats do play a role in training but we will discuss that in the next section.
Teach Your Beagle the Basic Commands
Now that you know what motivates your beagle and he understands who is the leader of the pack, you are ready to begin teaching your dog basic commands. In this section we will be focusing on how to train your dog to do the following:
- Don’t jump
- Don’t bark
Once your beagle has mastered the basics teaching him harder tricks should be a breeze.
Learning to sit is the first trick your dog needs to know in a long line of essential commands. Start by grabbing a treat and holding it out in front of your dog’s nose. Don’t give him the treat, but slowly raise it above his head.
The dog’s natural reaction is to follow the treat with his nose forcing him to sit. As he makes the sitting motion, firmly and clearly say, “sit”. And give him the treat.
Practice this trick often and in multiple locations. If you only practice your at your home your dog may think he only needs to perform it there.
Gradually ween your dog off of treats.
Get your dog in the “sit” position. Hold up your hand and firmly say, “stay”. Move further and further away from your dog while repeating the command. When your dog stays, shower him with praise.
Whenever your dog happens to be coming toward you firmly say, “come”. Otherwise, you can offer a treat to get your dogs attention. Whenever your dog comes, shower him with praise or a belly rub so he associates the command with a reward.
Teaching your dog not to jump on people is essential if you ever want to take your beagle out in public.
If your beagle jumps on you, don’t scold him. Gently push him down and walk away showing no emotion. Call him to you again and offer him lots of praise if he doesn’t jump.
Not biting is even more serious than not biting. Understanding why your bulldog may be biting is crucial if you want it to stop. Most of the time your beagle is biting because he is nervous or afraid. If that is the case, simply familiazrize your beagle with whatever he may be scared of and you should be fine.
If he bites while playing, don’t scold him. Simply stop the game and walk away. He will soon associate biting with ending play time and will stop.
*Pro Tip! Learn to anticipate when your beagle is about to bark. If you can distract him before he starts to bark, you can stop the bad behavior. Eventually, he will hardly bark at all.
House-Breaking Your Beagle
This is where a lot of people struggle, but if you have followed my previous steps then house-breaking won’t be too hard.
Start by saying something like, “potty time” or “business time” every time your dog squats to use the bathroom. This will associate doing his business with your verbal command.
Start your beagle off going to the bathroom in one room. This room will help him focus on your verbal command and eliminating. Immediately reward him after he is done.
Once your dog has mastered going in the chosen room and the verbal command, start taking your dog outside. Take him out as often as possible. Try taking him to similar spots everyday. Repeat your verbal command and reward him after he has relieved himself.
When your dog has an accident, firmly tell him “no”. Once he has walked away from the mess, clean it and do not give him much attention.
House-breaking a beagle is probably the most difficult part of owning one of these dogs. Be patient and try to control your frustration. If you are diligent, your dog will learn eventually.
*Pro Tip! Never shout or wag your finger at a beagle. These behaviors may actually excite your beagle having the opposite effect of what you had hoped.
How Long Does it Take to Train a Beagle?
When all is said and done, it usually take about 6 months to have your beagle fully trained. You can expect the house-breaking to take about 3 months and the other general training to take about three months.
In the meantime, make sure you have plenty of Febreeze, puppy pads, and patience. You are going to need it.
It won’t be an easy process, but stay positive! It will be worth it in the end!
Are beagles intelligent? According to a study by Dr. Stanley Coren, Professor of psychology at the university of British Columbia, beagles rank in the bottom ten for intelligence in dog breeds.
Dr. Coren based his research on how well dogs were able to solve complex problems and do their special breed specific “job”. Dogs with complex jobs like German shepherds, ranked high on Dr. Coren’s list.
Beagles may not take orders from humans well, but that doesn’t mean they are dumb. Beagles can perform a variety of tricks and are great trackers. Just look at Snoopy, he can fly an airplane.
What dog breed is easiest to train? While every dog breed has it’s own unique problems with training, most agree that Border Collies are the easiest to train.
Border Collies were bred as working dogs. For hundreds of years they have performed complex sheep herding farm work that makes them excellent at taking orders. Or course, you still need to know how to train a dog if you want them to learn tricks.