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Understanding Your Dog's World

by Teresa Bridgman

        Time and time again I’ve heard people voice concerns about how their Beagle(s) does this or that.  To humans the behaviors are confusing, but if we put ourselves in our dog’s place the behavior would be completely understood. As humans we make the mistake of projecting our social morays onto our pets.  We assume because we are the humans our dogs automatically understand we are their superiors. This simply isn’t so.  If we are truly the “superior” species then it is up to us to understand our Beagles perspective, and help them fit their Dog World into our world.

          RESPECT:  Who’s the “big dog” in your house? You think it’s you, right?  Not if you haven’t made it clear to your Beagle. Just because you control the food time, play time, and sleep time doesn’t mean you will have your Beagles respect. The concept of you controlling these things is lost on your Beagle.  It’s up to you to train your beagle and, frankly, I have very little patience for people who whine about their pets doing this or that if they haven’t spent any time training the animal and helping them to understand who is “boss”. So get a good training book, get up off your butt, turn the TV off, and work with your Beagle or find a trainer who understands hounds and work with them on training. Respect is not free…it’s earned, especially in your Dog’s World.

          POSSESSIVENESS: Desensitizing your Beagle is a very important part of life with your dog.  There are times (especially with a Beagle) that you will need to take something away from them or pry something out of their mouths.  It’s absolutely unacceptable to have the dog fight you over the item. This is not a test of wills! Start today to end the possessiveness.  There are numerous ways of doing this and it’s up to you as the leader in your Dog’s World to choose the best way for you.  I personally have taught all my Beagles that if they give me something they have (but I want) there is a reward involved. They will give me ANYTHING for a piece of turkey hot dog. At first I wondered if this would encourage them to seek out things I didn’t want them to have, however, they haven’t seemed to figure it out yet.

          At feeding time they have learned that I am allowed to take their bowls away.  This did take some work, but again, I want my beagles to be good family members.  I DO NOT want to take the chance of my beagle snapping at a houseguest who gets too close to their food.  I start taking away food bowls (and then giving them back) as soon as a dog comes into my home. If the dog allows me to take the food away from them, they not only get the food back…they get a piece of hot dog first.  If they growl, snap or show any “unwillingness” to allow the bowl to be removed, they must wait to have it back (I generally will put the bowl in a cabinet and walk out of the room for 5 minutes).  When I give the food back we go through the same procedure. I have yet to find a beagle that does not learn very quickly that the food WILL be returned under the right circumstances in aDog’s World.

          THE FLOOR: When someone is considering adopting a beagle from our rescue we visit the prospective family’s home. I tell the family to look at their home through the eyes of a Beagle. Get down on the floor and look around.  This is your Dog’s World. You certainly don’t want to remove everything, BUT you also need to understand that some things are just too good to pass up. If you buy your Beagle stuffed toys to play what makes you think the dog will understand the difference between his stuffed toys and the kids stuffed toys. Beagles are scent hounds and if there’s interesting smelling “stuff” on the floor (like yesterdays dirty socks or sweaty smelling shoes) then you can bet your paycheck a Beagle is going to be interested in them. After all, they smell like YOU and they LOVE you! While my own beagles are no longer interested in these things, I have lost many a tennis shoe to a foster Beagle.

          Garbage cans are floor items.  I admit here and now, I have yet to figure out a way to keep beagles out of my trash. As I’ve often said…my bathroom waist baskets live in the bathtubs.  My kitchen trash lives under the sink. Anyone who has been successful with this one please email me and let me know your training method.

          CONSISTANCY: The most important thing I tell all prospective Beagle people is to be consistent.  In a Dog’s Worldconsistency is everything. Your Beagle is born with the desire to fit in to the pack and be happy. You have taken on the responsibility of being the leader.  Now it’s time to live up to your responsibility and that means doing to same thing every time! If you know there is a big change coming (maybe a change of work hours, etc.) slowly change your Beagles schedule. Don’t spring it on them. If you do, don’t be surprised if you get a reaction you don’t want. There are times when we can’t always plan on disruptions or times when it simply can not be avoided.  We should be smart enough to take a moment and remember that our Beagles don’t understand these changes and we can hardly blame them…after all it is THEIR WORLD too!

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).