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How To Stop Your Beagle Barking

Beagles, trained scent hounds accustomed to emitting a deep, throaty and loud baying barks upon sighting of game, can be loud dogs. Even though your domestic Beagle is probably not used for tracking and hunting, he will probably still engage in the characteristic Beagle habit of barking and howling.

Many owners, and some vets, regard barking as something to be negated at all costs - as though a good dog is a quiet dog. This is not necessarily a constructive way to look at things: there are many reasons that a dog barks, and you shouldn't try to take away this valuable communication tool.

Why Does My Beagle Bark?

  • Is bored or lonely
  • Just likes doing it
  • It's getting close to mealtime
  • Something is unusual or someone's approaching the house
  • Inviting you to play
  • Needs to go out
  • Sees another animal
  • Wants to interact with you

When Is Barking Not a Good Thing?

Sometimes your Beagle may exhibit barking behavior which is inconvenient or offensive - for example, repeated baying and barking in order to get your attention at an unwanted time.

Getting your attention need not always be a bad thing; it's a good sign that your Beagle wants to interact with you! However, sometimes it can be used as a tool of manipulation in order to get extra food, extra pats, etc, especially if you've capitulated to these demands in the past. It's not a good idea to let your Beagle determine when and how often he's fed or patted; affection and nourishment should be doled out on your terms, not his.

How to Deal With Your Beagle's Barking

If you want a silent dog, then the Beagle may not be a particularly good choice for you; some Beagles just enjoy the sensation and noise of barking.

In order to control manipulative or intense attention-seeking barking, here are some basic tips for handling the issue:

  • Any dog, regardless of age, needs plenty of exercise and the stimulation of lots of company, toys, games, and other dogs to be happy and content. Keep him content and with a rounded-out, full life. Don't leave him alone for long periods of time.
  • Praise silence: when your dog refrains from barking at a time when he normally would give voice (a new sight, a new person, traveling in the car, etc) reward him and praise him.
  • When your dog attempts to manipulate you by barking - attempting to nudge you towards an early dinner, or demonstrating jealousy if you have a visitor or phone call - do not respond, even to say "No". Any reinforcement can be construed as welcome reinforcement, even if you're telling him off - he still got a reaction, didn't he? If this type of barking behavior occurs, ignore him until it stops. Do not pay him attention of any kind until he is quiet.
  • For a beagle who just likes the sound of his own voice, you can attempt to channel this vocal energy by teaching him to bark on command. This is a positive way of dealing with excessive noise, as it still gives him an outlet while earning praise from you at the same time. This is much more rewarding and realistic than trying to get him to stop at all costs.

Barking On Command

Teaching your Beagle to bark on command is surprisingly easy. Arm yourself with treats and an object or situation which generally causes barking in your Beagle, such as a squeaky toy, or the doorbell ringing.

  • As soon as he starts to bark, praise him with "Good boy! Speak! Good boy!"
  • Repeat the situation several times, always using the "speak" or "bark" command as soon as he starts to bark. Remember to keep praising and rewarding.
  • When he's got the "speak" command sorted, you can train him to be quiet: after he's had a chance to get a good few barks out, acknowledge the dog's vocalization by saying "good boy" or "thank you".
  • When you think he's barked enough, walk toward him and put your hand on top of his muzzle or nose, saying - in a deep, stern voice - "quiet" or "enough".
  • As soon as he stops barking, reward him with a treat and lots of praises
  • If he ignores the "quiet" command at first, turn your back on him and ignore him for a few minutes - he'll soon get the message.
  • Whenever he barks from now on, allow him enough time to get it out his system and then use the "enough" command, rewarding him with treats and praise as soon as he stops.

This command can be used in all situations where your Beagle gives voice - for example, the doorbell, seeing passersby through a fence, etc. When he starts to bark, give him a moment to release tension - a few good barks should do it - and then call him to you. Get him to sit, and then say quietly but firmly, "Quiet". As soon as he's quiet, give him a treat and/or lavish praise and pats.

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