Beagle Training

Beagles are one of the most popular of all dog breeds. They were traditionally used for hunting hares and other game due to their well-developed sense of smell (Beagle hunting, or 'beagling', used to be called 'the poor man's hunt' as a Beagle pack is followed on foot, not mounted on horseback). Nowadays they make wonderful pets due to their placid, friendly natures and manageable size.

Beagles are often headstrong dogs. Like most hounds, they're independent and aren't given to slavishly following direction. On the plus side, they're intelligent dogs who have no trouble picking up training when they feel like it (the use of food rewards is a good idea during training). They're very affectionate dogs - with a strong 'pack' history, the Beagle needs company at all times, whether canine or human; for this reason, many Beagle owners have two of the dogs.

Like all purebreds, Beagles have their recognized 'trouble areas' which you will need to watch out for. Provided you've done your homework on dog training techniques and are prepared to be consistent and firm, training will progress quickly. If looking for direction with your beagle training, visit Secrets to Dog Trainingfor an A-Z manual, written by a professional dog trainer, about handling, training, and preventing and dealing with problem behaviors in dogs.

Digging May Be an Issue

Beagles can sometimes frustrate their owners through a typical penchant for digging. Not allBeagles dig, but as a breed they do seem to enjoy it.

Boredom is the most common cause of digging. Beagles are smart dogs that need lots of different things to do; without mental and physical stimulation, they turn their energies towards less-constructive ways of expressing their frustration - like digging.

The second most common reason that your Beagle digs is simply because she enjoys it. Digging is a rewarding and pleasurable pastime for many dogs; your Beagle could just be doing it for fun. It's important that you recognize the reasons behind this habit, as you'll need to know the cause before you can deal with it.

Beagles are resourceful dogs, and sometimes dig holes to either cool themselves or warm up if the temperature is not to their liking. Does your Beagle have a warm, dry, sheltered, cosy area that he can retreat to if necessary when he's outside? If not, get him a kennel immediately - no dog that spends any amount of time outdoors should be without one.

If your beagle is digging out of boredom, then distract him by providing him with some appropriate entertainment. Invest in a varied toybox of different, tempting chews and playthings: plush toys, rawhide bones, bouncy balls, and puzzles which only release treats when the dog works hard enough at it.

If he's digging for fun, it's going to be almost impossible to prevent this habit from recurring. The most effective method of saving your garden is to redirect his energies towards an area where digging is acceptable> Choose a section of the yard where you can tolerate him digging, and mark it off in some way: some owners do very well by erecting a sandbox, which they fill with a mixture of sand and earth. To train him not to dig in the rest of the garden, spend some time with him outside: when he digs in the sandbox, praise him enthusiastically as soon as his paws touch the surface and reward him with a treat. If he starts to dig anywhere else, correct him firmly and straight away: while he's digging there, say 'No!' loudly and clearly. Take him by the collar and deposit him in the sandbox. As soon as he's there, praise him and give him a treat. Beagles are smart; yours should catch on quickly. Remember to be consistent and vigilant!

If there's a particular area that he keeps returning to, you can deter him quite easily (although the means aren't to most people's liking). The most effective way is to use his own natural dislikes against him as an aversion tactic. When he next relieves himself, take a piece of the poop and place it in the hole where he was digging. You can sprinkle a bit of dirt on it if you like, which will prevent him trying to remove it; but it's a very rare dog that will return to a hole that now contains dog poop. (Needless to say, this method is probably not as effective if your Beagle is digging at random all over the garden, as most people object to a lawn spread in dog poop.)

Remember, you need to be firm. You're the boss, and you need to act like it! Beagles are independent-minded dogs, and can be stubborn at times. If your Beagle feels that you're not acting like a leader, he'll lose respect for you and will start ignoring your commands. Dogs actually enjoy training, as well as requiring it; it's a great opportunity for you to bond with your Beagle, as well as working together towards a common goal (ie, your Beagle understanding clearly what your expectations are and how to fulfil them).

For more comprehensive information about how to stop your beagle from digging, barking, biting, chewing, jumping and so forth (including step-by-step photographs) I strongly recommend you check out:

Happy training!

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