Beagles may be small, but they have an amazing will and are surprisingly strong when they want to follow their nose somewhere. Every Beagle owner has experienced trying to walk a dog who is constantly wanting to trace the newest scent he’s found. It’s frustrating and hard on your body when he pulls and yanks. Luckily, there is a way to get your Beagle calm and focused on you so you can have a nice walk. The following are five tips to prevent your Beagle from pulling on leash.
#1 – Start Young
Dog are learning from the moment they are born – what do you want yours to learn? Do not wait until your puppy is an adolescent – start teaching good leash manners as soon as you bring yours home.
#2 – Teach Self-Control
Beagles are intelligent and have a strong will. At first, you may find that upping your rewards helps – often more intelligent dogs need more of a reason to do what you ask. In addition, teaching self-control so your Beagle can make the right choice – for example, staying by your side instead of chasing that bunny – is very helpful. Stay, Go To Bed (mat-stay behavior), sitting for a toy/food/petting, etc., are all good ways to work on self-control.
#3 – Practice Attention
Beagles definitely like to chase small animals and greet other dogs. On leash, this can lead to you being pulled in whatever direction your Beagle feels like – not fun! A key to stopping these behaviors is to keep him focused on you during a walk. Working on looking at you when you say his name, offering eye contact without a cue, Leave It and Drop are important to leash training.
#4 – Reward Correct Position
Whenever your Beagle is calmly walking in heel position – by your side with a loose leash – be sure you reward him. You can even turn this into a game by trying to move away from your Beagle and seeing if he stays with you off-leash in your house or in your backyard. Start off easy and then increase difficulty (quicker pace, tighter turns) as he learns the game. Rewards can be anything he likes, including treats, praise, toys, etc. As long as your Beagle likes it, it’s a reward. Dogs repeat behaviors that are reinforced, so the more you reinforce him for being in that spot, the more he will do it. It’s as simple as that!
#5 – Don’t Let Pulling Be Reinforced
As mentioned, dogs do what gets reinforced, so make sure your Beagle is not being rewarded for pulling. If she pulls on the leash and gets what she wants (to chase a bunny or greet a dog) then she will continue to do it and it will get worse. So, if you feel your Beagle start to pull you in one direction, plant your feet and don’t move, waiting until he returns to you. If you own a Beagle who is stronger than you, you can also turn and walk the opposite direction. Once she is walking next to you nicely, you can turn back and go the way she wanted to in the first place. This teaches your Beagle that if she wants to go somewhere, she has to keep that leash loose. I find this method to work well because dogs catch on to the rules quickly.
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