Beagle Obedience Training: Step-By-Step Guide
Let’s be honest, our beagles are like little kids. As a breed that is a hound, their noses usually call the shots.
Yes, they may rebel at times. But with proper guidance, they will still push through and eventually ‘get it’.
This article dives into obedience training, covers the basic commands and how they benefit you and your beagle.
What Is Obedience Training?
Obedience training is a universal term to describe the sets of commands that can be taught to your beagle. Its primary goal is to have your beagle respond to your commands in a reliable and timely fashion.
It encompasses everything from the most basic commands to the exceptionally skilled commands where both beagle and handler are judged in obedience competitions for their collective precision and performance.
Obedience Training Your Beagle Is A Necessity
Obedience training is an integral and essential part of their life. Without it, they can nuisance or a danger to others and themselves.
Nuisance examples: Having a beagle that destroys expensive or precious belongings. And of course, we’ve all seen a beagle (or any dog for that matter) that will beg for food at the table.
Danger to others examples: If they chase someone who’s running and potentially cause injury. Or they jump up on someone very young or elderly.
Dangers to themselves examples: Wandering aimlessly by not understanding the world has all sorts of hazards, such as chasing a squirrel into a busy road.
With care, planning, and patience; you can avoid all of these from happening in the first place.
Beagle Obedience Training: The Fringe Benefits
Besides the obvious benefits of training, there are some fringe benefits.
For example, it creates quality time for you to bond with your beagle and to work together as a team.
It will also develop respect that you are the leader of the pack, and that you can be relied on for guidance and support. Consequentially, that will result in them becoming that much relaxed and realize that you’ve got it all covered.
Beagles enjoy mental stimulation. Challenging them with commands will give them a sense of usefulness, even though they can be very stubborn at times. Remember, this is a breed that is very nose-focused; so sometimes they can get distracted.
And finally, it’s fun! Or at least my crazy self thinks so, and I’m sure my dog does.
5 Staple Commands That Every Beagle Should Know
- Sit – Your beagle should respond by assuming a sitting position.
- Stay – Your beagle should respond by staying in whatever position they are currently in and remain still.
- Down – Your beagle should respond by assuming a laying down position. This is with all four legs and their belly on the floor.
- Come – Your beagle should respond by coming over to you regardless of what they are doing.
- Heel – Your beagles should respond by walking or sitting facing in the same direction as you are, with their head or shoulders aligned right behind your leg. This can be done while they are on a leash or not.
With these 5 fundamentals adhered to consistently, your beagle will become a much more balanced and well-behaved dog.
Advanced Obedience Training For Beagles
Advanced obedience commands encompass behaviors we deem as tricks and commands used in high-level competitions.
Examples include: figure 8, give, leave, place, roll over, take it.
They can also include directing retrievals and scent discrimination.
However, there are more.
Why Are Some Beagles Disobedient?
Blame yourself. Nah, I’m just kidding. But actually I’m not.
We need to understand that they are not humans, so we have to try to get a better understanding of how a beagle’s mind works.
This means we have to delve into the topic of proofing. Let’s discuss this.
Generalization & Proofing
Beagles aren’t particularly strong at the concept of generalization.
Generalization simply means if he or she learns a command in a specific place or situation, they can’t readily apply that same learning to different places or situations.
What do I mean by this? If you taught your beagle to sit in your living room, they will sit when you command them in your living room. But if your beagle hears that command while you are in your neighbor’s living room, the command will likely fall on deaf ears.
They’re not being bad or stubborn — they simply don’t generalize well. People do. You rapidly learned as a child, not to touch a stove because it was hot. You knew that regardless of the place or situation, that wherever there was a stove, the same rules applied.
Since they do not generalize well, that brings up our next topic of proofing.
Proofing involves practicing commands with your beagle in many types of places and situations (inside and outside), in the presence of distractions.
Of course, you can’t possibly put them in every possible situation. However, once they realize that a command has been applied in many situations, they’ll begin to apply a command universally — especially if they’ve been given prompt praise afterward consistently.
Yes, it will take some time. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it? Unlike a city, this is a living, breathing being. They are more than worth our precious time and patience.
How To Ensure Your Beagle’s Success
Starting from the beginning, you should start your beagle, training for obedience in an environment that is quiet and familiar — your home. Okay, so maybe it might not be too quiet at times, but at least it’s familiar. You’ll also want to minimize any distractions, if possible.
Once they’ve successfully mastered a command at home, then you’ll need to reinforce the command by proofing the command in different environments.
A few suggestions in terms of environments, in progressively stimulative order:
- Your lawn
- A neighbor’s or friend’s home
- On a sidewalk
- Empty field
- Dog park
- Busy area of town
- Shopping mall
A few suggestions in terms of distractions:
- Adults and children
- Other friendly dogs
- Different weather conditions
- Safe proximity from vehicles
- Safe proximity to other animals nearby (birds, chipmunks, etc.)
Now that you’ve got a basic framework, so you’d really be off to the races.
But what if you’re not — are you hitting a training roadblock? If so, obedience classes may be in order.
Obedience Training — Making It Classy
Fortunately, there are classes for all types:
- Puppy, adult, senior beagles.
- Beginners, intermediate, advanced skill levels.
- Group lessons, private lessons.
Well-structured obedience training can be invaluable, for example:
- They are lead by experts in their fields and can customize training for a specific behavior or problem that your beagle may be enduring.
- These can be excellent opportunities for consistent socialization with other humans and other dogs. This helps with the proofing aspect of the training.
- Don’t forget you are a student, as well. You will be able to take these concepts and techniques with you for the rest of your life.
11 Quick Tips To Positive Progression
1. Consistency is key: Make sure everyone in your family uses the same exact set of commands. If you’ve taught “Mike, sit”, you can’t have them say “Mike, sit down”. He will become confused.
2. Patience is a virtue: As much as you’d like to believe it at times, your beagle doesn’t speak ‘human’. In addition, their thought processes are different in terms of their learning. That just means that it may take some time.
3. Keep it light, keep it tight: Don’t let your sessions become too arduous and repetitive. Don’t allow your beagle to burn out or lose interest as they may become discouraged.
4. Take it slow: Baby steps, my friends. Don’t rush something that has no reason to be. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take it slowly, and your beagle’s success will soar.
5. Failure is allowed: If while progressively increasing the dial on your beagle’s training, they hit a roadblock, don’t feel remiss — just take a step back or two. Keep the wins small and frequent — this will keep them eager to please.
6. Always finish on a positive note: Always wrap up every training session with commands you know that your beagle will execute efficiently.
7. State the command once: If your beagle is off-leash, and they aren’t performing the expected behavior, they may be tuning you out. Wait until you have their undivided attention or you put them back on their leash, and try try again.
8. Food treats incentivize like nobody’s business: A little culinary incentive never hurt anyone. Just don’t overindulge them, even if your beagle is an overachiever.
9. Keep it simple: If your beagle performs a command only when they expect to receive a treat, you’ve been rewarding them too frequently with treats. It should be a hit or miss. Sometimes their good behavior deserves a hit (treat), other times their good behavior results in a miss. As long as they don’t come to expect it consistently, you’re on the right track. However, eventually, you’ll want to phase them treat rewards altogether.
10. Time it right: Praise and reward should come in rapid succession after a successfully executed command. The more laser-focused, the more rapidly they will learn.
11. Practice makes perfect: — or pretty damn close.
Beagles Organically Learn How To Behave, Right?
Hmm — that’s a loaded question.
Beagles are adept at learning new behaviors. But without structured guidance, they’ll likely deviate into undesirable behaviors.
Remember this: beagles are reward seekers, thru and thru. They will seek behaviors that will elicit a reward and will cease behaviors that don’t elicit one.
So if left to their own devices, it would not be unrealistic to assume that they will naturally learn to:
- Grab whatever food is accessible on a table or kitchen counter, because food is rewarding.
- Give chase to small animals because it’s fun and rewarding.
- Chew anything they can get their little teeth into, including your TV remote.
If not redirected and given an alternative, your beagle’s behavior will become reinforced and it’ll be that much more difficult to break them of the behavior.
Benefits All Around: You And The Beagle
A thoroughly-trained beagle is extremely receptive to a well-chosen command, and accordingly will be able to deterred from a potentially dangerous scenario.
For instance, imagine how fantastic it would be if you can tell them to ‘DROP!’ the sharp object they’re trying to grab, or ‘STOP!’ before they run out into the street.
Some benefits include:
- A less stressful life for all parties involved.
- Lower vet bills
- A much more drama-free walk or jog with your beagle, due to minimal or nonexistent pulling.
- Freedom! Your beagle may be allowed off-leash since they can be trusted to act in an appropriate manner. This will make both you and your dog exceedingly happy, as you will be able to enjoy that many more activities together.
- Since they won’t beg at the table, they can stay in the same room and enjoy his or her family’s company.
- They can be taken on vacation with you and the family, and you can stay at ‘dog-friendly hotels’. After all, they are well-behaved. They’ll know not to cross any proverbial boundaries
Obedience training your beagle involves a consistent commitment of time and energy.
You and your dog may have a few bumps in the road — but you should be comforted in the thought that they won’t feel compelled to dart out into one.
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