How To Train Your Beagle To Sit Effectively
How to train a beagle to sit will not be as arduous as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
As a matter of fact: every beagle — okay, almost every beagle — okay, almost every dog is successfully trained this easy and helpful command.
It is a gentle way of easing your beagle into the practice of training.
Since it is a relatively low benchmark, your beagle will easily succeed, which will in turn, boost their confidence. Your relationship will become that much stronger as he or she will be eager to please.
Sit: Why Is This Command So Handy For Beagles?
It’s extremely powerful, that’s why. It can very effective at controlling your beagle in countless amount of scenarios.
- Your beagle can’t jump up on a visitor if they’re sitting.
- Having them sit before crossing the road with them.
- Before receiving any food or treats, they need to sit patiently.
- My beagle is prone to darting up and down the stairs. If you instruct them to sit beforehand, you can ascend or descend the stairs, without worrying that you both are going to end up looking like a circus act.
- Finally, it’s the proverbial “Stop!”. This is particularly beneficial if they are off-leash. This carries immense safety and security benefits.
Tips and Tricks To Train Your Beagle To Sit
When starting to train your beagle to sit (or any new command, for that matter), you’ll want to hedge the odds of their successes.
Start slow. Begin training at home in your living room with minimal distraction.
Once they have demonstrated proficiency, then you’ll wish to generalize and proofing their command, by practicing the command in different environments with distractions. We’ll discuss those concepts further in this article.
Keep it short. Yes, your beagle is already short, but I’m actually talking about the length of the training sessions. This will minimize boredom. If your beagle is very young, 3 to 5 minutes a few times per day is sufficient. For an older puppy or adult, 10 to 15 minutes a few times per day is ideal. This will ensure that you finish every session on a high note.
Be warm, yet assertive. Remember your beagle’s hearing is exponentially stronger than ours, so there really is no need to shout. Also, be mindful of the inflection of the pitch of your voice. If you use a low, gravelly voice; they may perceive this as threatening.
Keep it fun, fun, fun! Neither you nor they wish to feel like this is a chore. Remember, positive praise goes a very long way.
Three Training Methods – Chow, Catch, Conquer
The following 3 methods work on greatly varying principles. They are assertive, passive and aggressive respectively.
However, when you determine which method is best to train your beagle to sit, your rate of success from exploiting one of these methods is quite high. Let’s discuss each in depth.
Chow – The Assertive Method
As for any of us, food can be one hell of an incentive for your beagle. This is how it works:
- Stock yourself with small, high-value treats. Start by making your beagle aware that you are holding a treat in your hand, by putting it near their nose so they can smell it. Now — you’ve got their attention.
- Arch your arm up, hold the treat in your hand a few inches above your beagle’s forehead. This will encourage them to look up and follow their nose to smell the treat. Caveat: make sure the distance you’ve spaced the treat from them is right. If it’s too low, they’ll likely just shift their body backward, instead of looking up. It’s too high, they’ll probably jump.
- Move your hand in a sweeping upward and backward fashion over your beagle’s head. As they attempt to follow it, their head will go back and your puppy will naturally shift into a sitting position.
- As soon as this occurs, say ‘Sit!’ in a calm but firm voice. Provide them the treat and give praise. Timing is of the essence with this step. The moment you see their bum hit the floor, follow up with the command and provide the treat only if they are holding that position. Hypothetically, if they were to bounce right back up from the sitting position and you were to provide them a treat, they may associate standing back up with their reward. This is what you don’t want to do.
- Once your beagle has grasped the concept of sitting consistently with the command and follow-up treat, start leaving the treat in your pocket or pouch. Now, with your empty hand perform the same sweeping motion as before. If they successfully descend into a sitting position again and hold it, give them the treat and praise. This will help to disassociate their logic of following the treat.
- Once this has been mastered, start them with your hand farther away, but maintaining the empty hand — with the treat in your pocket at the ready.
- Finally, you may wish to integrate hand signals. The hand signal for sit is: with your hand near your side, palm facing forward, raise your hand until it is parallel with your palm facing upwards. This is more or less mimicking the same movement you were performing above them, but at a distance.
Catch – The Passive Method
Catching is a method to train your beagle to sit that observes your beagle’s activities, that they would perform frequently anyway. You wait for them quietly and calmly to perform the behavior. As soon as your dog randomly sits, you quickly say ‘Sit!’, and provide a treat and praise.
Considering that this is a passive approach, don’t be surprised that it may take markedly longer to train your beagle, as a large amount of time in this method is spent on observation.
Conquer – The Aggressive Method
If your dog isn’t receptive to the Chow (assertive) method and doesn’t offer the behavior to Catch (passive), you can physically coerce them gently into position. I assure you, this method is very gentle — if performed properly. This is how it works:
On the left-hand side facing the same way as you, your beagle should ready. Place your right hand on your puppy’s chest and your left hand underneath your puppy’s bum just above where his knee is.
Tuck your left hand underneath your puppy’s bum and slide it forward, while gently pushing up and back with your right hand so that you gently fold them into a sitting position. Of course, you can mirror all of these if you are more comfortable with your dog starting on the right side of you.
When they’ve been placed into the sitting position, say ‘Sit!’, and hold their position for a few seconds. Then promptly provide them a treat and praise them lovingly.
Do not — I repeat, do not push down directly down near your beagle’s backside to get them to sit. It can be potentially harmful as your puppy’s hips are not fully developed.
This method is quite effective, and will only take your beagle a few sessions to grasp. Just be sure to reinforce, reinforce, reinforce.
Gradually Cancel The Food Rewards
Once your beloved beagle has shown they understand ‘SIT!’ consistently, now is the time to begin gradually removing the food rewards.
Now, I’m not saying do not ever give your beagle a treat for good behavior ever again, that would be absurd. What I am saying is if they mentally attach a treat to an action that is requested of them, they’ll only perform the action when the treat is present. Suddenly, they’re the ones training you.
Since you will undoubtedly teach other commands simultaneously (such as stay and down), it will benefit you greatly to request 2 positive actions for the 1 reward. Therefore, they’re still being rewarded, but you’re also demanding more. That will enforce no action has a guaranteed reward of a treat. Please feel free to praise them heartily throughout though.
That being said, praise can come in countless forms. Scratching behind the ears, a belly rub, a game of tug of war, a few minutes outside to wander aimlessly; to name a few. Keep them happy.
As they become more adept, progressively reward with fewer treats, but more praise.
Eventually, they will graduate to a point where the reward is random. Sometimes after 3 behaviors, sometimes after 1, sometimes it’s a treat, sometimes it’s play, sometimes it’s nothing. Keeping your puppy incentivized and happy is key to their long-term success.
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 we know beagles 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.
A Few Closing Notes
Practice ‘Sit!’ at any point during the day. Even something as simple as that will help with the proofing process, that we just discussed.
There are many little opportunities that present themselves where you can practice the command throughout the day.
Secondly, punishment achieves nothing. None of us is perfect. Please don’t verbally accost or punish them if they do something wrong, or simply don’t seem interested at the moment.
Perhaps they have too much energy and need tiring out, or the opposite and are just too tired and need a nap. The solution: Try again later.
Finally, make sure that your whole family is on board. Training should be a collective effort, where everyone is on the same page, striving toward the same goals. That means the commands must be exactly the same, with no variations. ‘Sit’ and ‘Sit down’, are not the same in the eyes — uhm, I mean ears of a beagle. Patience and consistency will allow your beagle to shine.
Now knowing how to train your beagle to sit, you probably realize it is quite easy to learn and not at all demanding. It’s a simple, yet effective introduction into your beagle’s training journey.
Now if you wouldn’t mind me being philosophical for a moment:
Granted, the journey of learning never ends, so…….
…….Hmm, I lost my train of thought. Maybe I need a vacation.
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