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Manners Training

by Kristine Kraeuter


          Training your Beagle to behave appropriately is a fundamental part of responsible dog ownership. A well behaved, obedient canine is a pleasure to live with. Through proper training, your Beagle will learn what is expected of him, understand how best to please his human companions, and will become a more welcome and appreciated member of the family.

          The majority of perceived behavioral problems in dogs are the result of perfectly normal canine conduct that has been misdirected, or occurs at an inappropriate time or location. Without proper guidance and supervision, your Beagle will likely behave according to his natural animal instincts and in keeping with the hundreds of years of selective breeding which resulted in this tenacious little hunting hound. Thus manners training is primarily aimed at modifying and redirecting your Beagle's natural behaviors to outlets that are more acceptable in a domestic situation. I frequently receive questions from novice Beagle owners regarding how to correct their hounds’ inappropriate behaviors and improve basic manners. In this series of articles, I will be sharing some of the more interesting, or especially relevant, queries regarding Beagle behaviors and training, and my personal responses. I hope that by sharing these Q&A’s, other Beagle owners may be able to glean some useful information that will aid them in shaping their own well-mannered canine companion.


QUESTION:

 Kris,

          Good morning. In general things are going well with our puppy (age ten weeks), but I have a few questions for you. We decided not to allow Pup on furniture and of course he loves to jump on the sofa. If he jumps on the sofa we say off and then repeat the command as we put him on the floor. He doesn't seem to understand. I think he thinks we're playing because he'll keep it up for 5 or more minutes at a time. I've even shown him how to jump of the sofa while using the command off. I can't think of any other ways to teach him not to get on the furniture. Can you recommend anything that we can try to teach him not to jump on the sofa or suggest how we can refine the way we're doing it now?

          Also, Pup isn't too keen on being put on a leash. Other than an occasional scratching, he doesn't seem to mind his collar (buckle type), but when you hook a leash to it he often tries to bite it or he tries to get away from the leash flopping himself around. It's funny because once and a great while he'll walk around like it's not even there, maybe he's tired.

          Do you have any free advise on this one? I revisited sections of your book, but I thought I'd better ask you directly this time. Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thanks


ANSWER:

          Hi, and congrats on your new puppy!

          For the jumping on the sofa, I think your initial reaction is good, and you just need to take the next step and give Pup an alternate way to behave that is more appropriate. After you tell him "off" & help him to the floor, give a *nose hug*, tell him to "Settle" and then give him something else to do (rather than trying to jump up again). If you've started to train him to respond to the "sit" command, then ask him for a polite sit.

          If you have a doggie bed, place it on the floor near the sofa and have him go lay down, maybe with a nice chew toy to help hold his interest and divert his attention. And finally, remember to praise/reward when he is finally acting appropriately (something like "Good Sit" or "Good Down", to reinforce that you approve of the alternate behavior). Enough repetition, coupled with reinforcement, and Pup will eventually learn that trying to jump up on the furniture is not a rewarding behavior.

          For introducing the leash... try putting it on and letting him drag it around for a while during supervised play (but do not allow him to use it as a chew toy; correct him if he does and then give him an alternate, appropriate behavior to perform in order to divert his attention). If Pup likes to play games of fetch with his toys, then let him drag the lead while fetching his toy and interacting with you; this would provide positive reinforcement (because the lead is not being used to restrict his activity, and he is having fun and socializing with his favorite people while wearing the lead). Clipping on the lead right before you feed Pup might also help him to associate use of the lead with rewarding activities (Mom puts on my lead and then good things happen, like getting to eat or playing a fun game together).

          When you pick up the leash, and Pup fights against it, rather than walking (and perhaps dragging him along against his will) just stand still. Putting pressure on the leash and attempting to reel him in or force him to walk will probably have the undesired effect (at this early stage, any ways) of just causing him to fight against you even harder.

          In Pup's case I would then offer an object of attraction (such as a treat or favorite toy) to entice him to calm down and come to you voluntarily, creating slack in the lead. I am not a fan of using bribes in training on a regular basis, but in this situation you may find it to be useful during the initial process of lead breaking... once Pup is accepting the restrictiveness of the lead and no longer fighting it, then immediately stop using the bribes and switch back to a system of positive reinforcement (with only occasional, intermittent food rewards) for polite walking on lead.

          Hope these ideas will be helpful. Sometimes you just have to try and think like a dog <LOL>. They tend to behave in a way that is rewarding, maintains their comfort with the least amount of effort, or gains them what they want in life. Dogs (like children, actually) also respond better if, when correcting them for an undesirable behavior, you then follow through by showing them a more appropriate manner in which to act that will be more rewarding. Think back to your school days... the best teachers where those that didn't just mark your schoolwork wrong when you made an error, but went a step further and took the time to also show you the correct way to do the work. For dogs, consistent repetition is also important and most lessons will have to be repeated over and over again throughout puppy hood and adolescence, until the desired behaviors eventually become habitual.

Kris

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).