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Not Listening

The 3 Reasons a Beagle Won’t Listen


It can be frustrating when a Beagle is stubborn and seems to be flaunting that he has a mind of his own, completely independent of you and not listening at all. 

This sort of behavior really needs to be resolved, though many owners find this a tricky situation: If a Beagle refuses to listen, just how is it that the owner is supposed to teach him to? It may seem like a catch 22. 

However, by making some changes, understanding why a dog won’t listen and implementing some training, this can be overcome. 

The 3 Aspects of Why a Beagle Will Not Listen to His Owner

1) The Beagle doesn’t know what you are asking for – In order for a Beagle to follow a command, come when called or really follow any sort of cue, he has to know what the cue or command is; in other words, what sort of action is expected of him. If a Beagle puppy is young he may not have fully learned it or if a Beagle of any age has not had the right sort of training those words of ‘Come’, ‘Sit’ or even calling out his name may not actually mean anything to the dog.

What to do:
1. Only use the words during training. Do not give commands when out and about or at random times if your Beagle is just going to ignore them. 

2. Have daily sessions in an area with no distractions in which you specifically work with your Beagle to listen to your commands. Sessions should last 10 to 15 minutes and twice per day, every day is best. Always praise and reward for ‘good tries’ and end on a good note when enthusiasm is high. 

3. Start off slow with the basic ‘Sit’. Others can follow once your dog has this one down pat. 
2) The Beagle has no reason to listen. If you think about it, why is it that dogs listen to their owners? Is it to get a reward? Well, in the beginning this may be the motivation, however as treats are phased out, there has to be something more than this. It can’t just be because you are a human and your Beagle is a dog; if that were true, he’d listen to all humans and it’s certainly not the case that dogs follow commands given by strangers (rare, but not common). 

So, what sort of relationship exists in which a Beagle would want to listen to his human? It is one in which the dog fully, 100% sees his owner as his leader. 

It's really easy for owners to simply assume that their Beagle knows that the human is in charge. After all, it is you that buys his food, you schedule vet visits and shop around for awesome toys. But, how is it that your Beagle knows about these things? He doesn’t. 

For canines, there is always a leader (Alpha) of the pack (family) in the den (household). And if it is not absolutely clear that it is you, a Beagle will not listen to you. His canine mind is telling him that your orders do not need to be followed and that commands are not coming from someone in charge.

What to do:
Daisy May, at 10 and 1/2 months old
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Stadler
1. Expect a ‘Sit’ any time food is given. This includes both meals and snacks. You may need to teach ‘Sit’ to your Beagle (see aspect #1 above), however treats will motivate him to listen to that command. Once he is in the habit of sitting on cue, you can mandate that it be followed any time that the dinner dish is placed down or a snack is given out. 

When this is done, it sends a loud and clear signal that you, the human, are the Alpha. Canines very much understand that food equals survival and the importance of the ‘food provider’, so by following this rule, you are stating in the most basic and fundamental way that you are the head of the household; someone to be respect and obeyed.

2. Entering and exiting – While this will not work on its own to make a Beagle listen, it works very well in conjunction with the food element. When hierarchy issues are being hammered out and the status is unclear, the leader (or the one vying for the position), the one whose words must be followed due to canine rules, never allows his beta to enter or leave the den (house) first. It simply is not done. It is a sign of bowing down and a sign of weakness. 

While a cooperative Beagle that listens well may not see that much importance in how household members enter and exit and it will not destroy the hierarchy that has been established, if a Beagle is overly stubborn and outright ignoring his human, it is then that this aspect factors in. 
  • Have your Beagle on leash anytime the doorway is going to be crossed; even if you normally let him out back on his own. You can escort him outside and then release the leash (if it is safe to do so).
  • Ordering your Beagle into a sit and then using the leash to hold him in place and via positioning of your body to take the lead, cross the doorway first. There does not need to be a big gap in time from when you do this to when your Beagle follows; even a count of 2 is fine and will get the message across.
Beagle at attention
Leo, at 11 weeks old
Photo courtesy of Danny Seehra
3) Listening is not beneficial – If someone constantly called you to come to them or asked you to do something but when you listened you found that you were in a worse situation than before or if it led to unpleasant things, soon you would start to dread their voice and after a while of it being proven to you that listening was not the best choice for you, you’d stop listening altogether. You would rebel. And so does a dog in this sort of situation. 

Though listening out of respect and following hierarchy rules is a big factor in regard to obedience, if a Beagle is scolded, forced to endure something unpleasant (nail trimming, being brushed, baths -anything that a particular dog dislikes) or even if listening to his name or the ‘Come’ command means that his fun is ending, this can cause him to ignore the calls and instead choose what is most beneficial to him. 

What to do:  No matter your reason for calling your Beagle over to you, once he complies, have the first 1 or 2 minutes be something pleasant. If you are in the home, give pats and play a short distance game of fetch for a bit. If you are out at the dog park or other such area, do not immediately put your Beagle back into the car; stay in place, offer some water, etc.
The idea is to give distance between the command and your true intention of giving it, with a buffer zone of a comfortable and pleasing transition. 
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