Beagle temperament is midway between a Golden Retriever and a Terrier. They’re not so eager to please as a Golden, but not so willful as most Terriers. That makes them a challenge to train, but not a major headache.
One way to get started on the right road is, as with all dogs, to start young. But keep in mind that Beagle pups are natural hunters. They will want to roam and will find a dozen things to distract them every minute. To keep that to a minimum, arm yourself with something more interesting than anything in the environment.
That something could be a favorite ball, a size-appropriate chew bone, or some fascinating treats that smell really enticing. Don’t feed treat after treat to get them to obey, however. Treats are often high in calories and not intended as a meal. Also, you want to encourage them to listen because you are the alpha, not because they will be fed every time they obey.
Preparing the backyard or other training area to be free of more interesting items can be a challenge. If your home doesn’t provide that already, you might try starting in a spare room or the garage. Ensure there are no small items the dog can latch onto the moment you look away.
Have reasonable expectations for training, though. Beagles are hunters and they will sniff and wander whenever possible. Frustration is inevitable if you expect every Beagle to be like a show dog who focuses on you or what you want every minute.
One good way to minimize that frustration is to start the session by allowing them to explore freely for at least a few minutes. Once the area becomes familiar, the dog is more likely to focus on you. Beagles are by nature very friendly and will enjoy interacting with you once nothing more interesting is nearby.
Another method for readying your Beagle for a training session is to start with lots of exercise that isn’t a rigid part of the training. Beagles are hunters, but – unlike Retrievers – don’t instinctively want to fetch and return.
Let them chase the ball until they’ve worked off some of that pent up energy from being in the house, crate, or kennel. Be sure to have several balls, though. Since they won’t retrieve, you’ll want a means of attracting their attention and, as hunters, they will seek to move onto the next ‘prey’ once the first one is ‘subdued’.
Now, after some free wandering and a bit of exercise, your Beagle will be in a better frame of mind to begin the concentrated portion of the training session. These should be done regularly, every day around the same time if possible. Beagles, like most dogs, are creatures of habit. Once a routine is established they seek to follow it.
Making the effort to prepare the time and environment for training requires commitment. But it will be more than amply rewarded with a happier, less restless, and more compliant Beagle. Like him, have fun!