Teaching a Beagle to Listen to and Respect His Owners

MacMac is a nine-month-old Beagle who doesn’t listen to his owner, chews the baby toys in the home and plays too rough with one of the family’s preteen girls.

When I first met Mac, I could see that he was full of energy did not recognize his owner’s as authority figures. He jumped up on everyone, showed no respect for their personal space, scratched for attention and bounded around the room on a cloud of energy.

I started out by showing his owner’s my technique to stop him from jumping up on them. When a dog does this, its usually due to being over excited and an attempt to “claim” the person as the dog’s possession. Not only is this dangerous in a home with young children, it gives the dog the impression it is in a leadership position.

Mac howled in protest the first time I used my technique to disagree with his attempt to claim me. As soon as I finished, he jumped up on me again so I repeated the correction. After that, Mac started to stop himself from jumping up. I suggested that everyone in the home adopt my technique to disagree with the jumping up. If Mac is corrected this way by everyone in the home, his jumping up should stop within a day or two.

I also went over a technique to adopt when Mac starts to get too excited. Its common for dogs to get into trouble when they get too revved up. My technique is basically a doggie time out. It took only a minute or two for Mac to calm down after I first applied the technique.  As a pup, his owners will need to incorporate this technique any time Mac starts to get too excited. If their timing is good, it shouldn’t take Mac long to learn that an over excited state is unwanted.

Next I suggested that his owners adopt a few new rules and boundaries to help the dog start to identify as a follower. Making the dog sit, come or lie down when it scratches for attention is a great way to use positive reinforcement to disagree with unwanted behavior. The dog learns that demands are ignored, but when it follows commands it gets a nice reward or attention from its owner.

I also suggested they not allow the dog on the couch as dogs perceive some of their status and authority amongst their peers from they height at which they sit. By not allowing the dog on the couch, he can literally see the difference between dog and human.

To help accelerate this change in the leader follower dynamic, I went over a few exercises to help Mac practice thinking before he reacts as well as to look to his owner’s for leadership and guidance.

Because Mac frequently ignored his owners commands and corrections, I went over some basic dog communication tips. Many humans repeat a command louder when a dog doesn’t respond. I liken this to yelling at someone because they dont speak English. If you aren’t communicating in a way they understand, the volume of your words will have zero impact.

Because dogs communicate with non-verbal communication, how you stand, where you face and how you move have much more meaning than what you say. You will get a better response to a correction or command by standing up and facing the dog. In a dog’s world, this is a much more commanding or authoritative position.

To stop Mac from playing with the baby’s toys, I showed his owners how to claim them. Once Mac “gets it” and ignores the baby toy, we rewarded him with a high vale treat. It will take some practice and vigilance by his owners, but as a Beagle, Mac should have no problems telling the difference between his and the baby’s toys.

By the end of the session Mac was talking commands from the three and five year old girls and responding to corrections from the other members of the family. By enforcing the new rules and boundaries over the next week or two, this new respect for the human authority will become second nature to Mac.

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