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Dealing With A Biting Beagle

Beagles are usually obliging dogs not overly given to aggression unless their upbringing is lacking something important (for example, socialization). Most problems as a breed tend to relate more to disobedience and tracking-type issues: for example, running off after a scent the moment they are released from the leash. Having said this, though, any dog is capable of biting, regardless of the breed or of how placid they may normally be.

Why Would My Beagle Bite Me?

Biting is a natural aspect of dog behavior, just like tail-wagging and barking. Some people make the mistake of forgetting that dogs are still very much animals; all dogs will bite given the right (or wrong) circumstances. There are several common reasons for an ordinarily placid dog to bite:

  • Your beagle may feel entitled to act dominantly towards you. If your beagle is biting to reassert his superior status over you, this means that he sees himself as the alpha dog or leader. Usually this is due to an unconfident or inexperienced owner who doesn't understand how dogs communicate, and thus lets their dog get away with unacceptable behavior inadvertently.
  • If you play rough with your Beagle - for example, tug of war, or wrestling - the temptation to reciprocate may be too much for him to handle.
  • If your Beagle is ever cornered by someone that he perceives to be a threat, it's likely that he'll bite out of a sense of self-preservation. Do you ever tell your Beagle off when he's backed into a corner? This is a prime situation for self-defense biting.
  • Handling a dog when he's in pain or is fearful and panicky - for example, if he's been hit by a car, or has hurt himself somehow - often results in a bite. In this condition, your dog is under a LOT of pressure (especially if he's in pain) and may lash out - either because you've hurt him more, or he's afraid that you will.
  • If your Beagle hasn't received proper socialization, either with regard to humans or dogs, he'll probably react with hysterical aggression whenever a stranger sets foot on his turf.
  • If your Beagle is cowering under the bed because of a thunderstorm or fireworks display, you should leave him strictly alone. Attempting to force a panic-stricken or fearful dog to do things that he doesn't want to do will force him to communicate his displeasure in the only way he can: by biting.

Why Do Dogs Bite?

Well trained dogs that have been cared for and brought up properly don't bite. As simple as that. Poorly trained or uncared for dogs, on the other hand, haven't been given the opportunity to learn to discriminate between situations which may genuinely call for a bite (for example, if he's being attacked by another dog, or if his family is under threat) and ordinary situations which don't (a walk down the street, the arrival of the postman, etc).

  • If your dog didn't get the opportunity to meet lots of other dogs and people during the socialization period of his puppyhood (10 to 16 weeks), it's highly likely that he'll be anxious and fearful around other dogs: the prime emotional circumstances for aggression.
  • Your Beagle must be socialized with humans, too - this will prevent unwanted aggression when the meter reader turns up, or friends drop by, or someone bends down to pat him on the street.

How Can I Stop My Beagle Biting?

  • If your Beagle has given you a proper bite (not one administered in play, or out of fear, or any of the reasons discussed above) then this is a serious issue and needs to be dealt with by a trained professional. It's virtually impossible for an amateur to train a dog not to bite again - your Beagle will need strong counter-conditioning and training which requires substantial indepth knowledge on the subject.
  • Reacting to a bite or aggressive behavior with reciprocal aggression (shouting, threatening gestures, emotional behavior) is counterproductive. You need to read up on dog psychology and communication and make sure you're not muddying the waters with inexpert reactions.
  • For aggressive behavior towards other animals, muzzle your Beagle until you've dealt with the situation appropriately.

For more information, and rock-solid training techniques to stop your Beagle biting, visit DogObedienceAdvice.com/SitStay(link opens in a new window).

 

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