You've heard the old saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s just not true. Your Beagle can learn at any age. In fact, in order to stimulate its mental and physical capabilities, your pooch will need to learn and perform new tricks. Besides, you don’t want your dog to get bored – he may come up with a few tricks of his own you may not like!
Trick training needs a lot of patience and practice – like any other kind of training. Once your Beagle performs the way you want him to, be sure to use frequent and lavish rewards. Just like people, a dog will lose interest if he finds a task to be dull and boring. That means you’ll have to find fun tricks for your dog to learn. Before you start with trick training, you should master the basic obedience skills the tricks are based on. Start with the easy tricks, one at a time, and take on harder ones gradually (depending on your dog's learning pace).
If you’re just starting out, you should start with the easy ones. These include Shake Hands, Dance, and Fetch. Since they are easier, it will help to build your dog’s confidence and skills. After these tricks are mastered, change it up by modifying and combining them into more complex tricks.
For Shake Hands, start in the Sit position while using the Focus command to get your Beagle’s attention. Gently pick up your dog's paw with one hand while giving a treat with the other. When your dog raises his paw, with or without your help, praise and reward him with a treat. Keep repeating this until your dog picks it up on his own. Once that has been mastered, teach your dog to Wave and Hide its face with his paws. Even better, you can use this basic technique to teach your dog to turn light switches on and off.
Dance is a trick based on the sit position. Start by holding a treat above your Beagle's nose until he jumps up on his hind legs. Say Dance, and give the treat to your dog while gently taking hold of his front legs. Dance with your dog at first, guiding it by holding its front legs while he stands balanced on his rear legs. Don’t pull or force your dog to stay in the standing position. Reward the behavior as it occurs naturally. Eventually, see if your dog can perform the trick on his own. Then, try teaching Beg by encouraging your dog to sit while you support its front legs.
Fetch is best trained on a long lead. Once focused, toss your dog 's favorite toy a few feet away. Say Fetch while your dog runs or jumps to the toy. Praise your Beagle after the toy is picked up, then once again when your dog brings it to you. Wait for the toy to be dropped, and praise and reward once again. Once Fetch is accomplished, you can move on to Frisbee, as well as teaching your dog to play Hide and Seek with specific toys it can learn to identify by name.
The basics of trick training can turn into so much more if you stick with it. Spend a certain amount of time a day with these tricks – and it’s a great way to bond with your dog!