Are Beagles Hard to Train?

By John Martin - September 20, 2022

Beagle in training class

Beagles are smart dogs but they have a powerful sensory system that distracts them easily. It is difficult to train beagles but it’s not impossible.

There are a few things you should know about training dogs and some things specific to this breed. Once you do, training them actually is quite easy if you apply logic.

What Makes It Hard?

Beagles are smart dogs that have a powerful sense of smell. This distracts them quite often and that makes it hard for humans to get them to focus when training out in the open.

Add to that, you need a lot of time and patience to train a beagle. This is a dog that has strong hounding ancestry and was bred for that purpose for a very long time.

So, it should be easy to understand why it is hard to train them into obedient and domesticated pets. You also need to be consistent when training any dog.

But more so when you are dealing with a breed that gets distracted by the smells and sounds of its immediate environment. That means it’s possible that your beagle won’t learn the commands you are trying to teach because your inconsistency has led to confusion.

Beagles also like to be rewarded with praise or treats when they do a good job. That’s something you can’t forget while training a dog.

Mostly because that will aid your attempts to train a breed of dog that is prone to distractions and not prone to be domesticated.

What’s Their Motivation?

The good news is that training a beagle might be difficult but it’s not an impossible task. It is true that the intelligence of a dog is a subjective matter.

It is hard to measure their intelligence too, but some of the smartest dogs are classified as such because they work hard and are smart and obedient. One of the parameters that tells you how smart a dog is is its ability to learn new commands and obey them right away.

Beagles are ranked as the 131st most intelligent dog on the list of 138 breeds. That should give you a hint not about their intelligence but about their inability to be easily trained.

They’re not very motivated because, compared to other breeds like a Border Collie, which is a workaholic dog, beagles are not inclined to work for the sake of it. A Border Collie is inclined to learn the commands quickly and well because it likes to work.

Now, beagles are not the same which means you need to figure out what motivates your dog. That could be playtime with you or their favorite toy or a tasty treat.

Once you know what makes them tick, your life training a beagle will be much easier. It’s not much more complicated than that!

Also Read: Can Beagles Go Off Leash?

What’s the Biggest Distraction?

You know now that beagles are very good with their noses. You also know that they are hound dogs bred for hunting.

Those are very distracting natural instincts which makes it tough to train a beagle. But you should also know that beagles are very curious.

It’s in their nature to get inquisitive. Combine that with the hundreds of different smells they can detect and you’ve got your work cut out for you.

They will chase all the smells that they can detect and that’s why they have so much going on in their heads even while you are training. So if you haven’t figured out what can draw their attention to you, you’re not going to be very successful in getting them to pass obedience school.

Beagles also like to roam around because they are hounds that follow any scent that comes their way. And there is never a scent that is not attracting their attention at any given point in time.

In fact, it means that you need to be extra careful and supervise them so that they don’t wander off your property. So, if your little guy is out in the backyard, you want to let them be only once you have secured the area.

And if you are out on a walk with your beagle, you don’t want to take the leash off, well, ever. Because it takes just the smell of one squirrel for them to be off on a chase.

Beagle Training Tips

As mentioned before, there are a few things you should know before you start the process of training your beagle. It’s not a tough thing but once you know the things that will gently bend the will of the breed you are dealing with, you have a higher likelihood of succeeding.

Here’s what they are.

Be the Alpha

When training a dog of any breed, you need to be its master. Beagles by nature tend to hunt in a pack and all of those packs have an alpha.

Here’s what you can do to get your beagle to accept you as the alpha.

  • In the world of animals, the dominant and strongest member of a pack eats first. So, you should do the same and make sure your dog knows that.
  • If you want your dog to stop acting a certain way or doing a certain thing, you must be firm. It’s important to remember to be calm but assertive.
  • You need to set physical boundaries that tell your beagle where they are allowed and where they are not. This means letting the beagle know that climbing on the furniture or perhaps entering the bedroom is not acceptable.

In short, be territorial.

Teach Basic Commands

When you want to start domesticating a dog, you need to teach them basic commands like, “stay,” “come” and “sit”.

These are not negotiable no matter the breed. With a beagle, here’s how you do it.

You need to sit down and push the rump of your dog to the floor. Then you should signal them to sit on it using the command. And when the dog does so, you give them a treat.

If you want to teach them how to stay, you need to move a few steps back while your dog is standing steady. If they try to follow you, make sure you get them to sit using the command.

When they do sit, you should continue moving back and make sure they stay using the command “stay”. After the dog stays in position for over 10 seconds, you should give them a treat.

If you want to teach them the command “come,” you should move away from them while they stay in position. You should signal them to come towards you while also using the word “come”.

When they do come to you, make sure you give the canine lots of praise and a treat too.

Don’t Let Them Howl

This is an important point and a mistake that individuals who are not familiar with beagles tend to make.

These dogs are hounds and they are notorious for howling. Typically, they do this when they see something that looks like prey to them.

But beagles are also prone to howling if they are in pain or when they feel lonely. You must know the reason for their howling to curb it.

And no matter what the reason, it is important to get them to stop doing it. Here’s how you can do that.

Figure out why your dog is howling. If the reason is loneliness, you want to massage them gently to ease them out of their predicament.

Beagles are also likely to howl when you leave them alone for long stretches of time. This can be attributed to loneliness.

If the reason is pain, you must take them to the vet and make sure they are okay. If it’s neither, then you need to figure out what is triggering the howling.

Typically, doorbells are a trigger as is seeing a dog in their vicinity because beagles can be territorial.

Once you figure out the trigger, if it is a harmless one like the two examples just mentioned, you want to get it out of their system. You can do that by teaching your furry friend the “hush” command.

That means you place the trigger right in front of them. When they start howling, you want to look straight into their eyes and say the command “hush”.

If you did it right, your canine will calm down and you should give them the treat to acknowledge the good job they have done.

Then there is the matter of wanting your attention or a treat. If these are the reasons why your beagle is howling, you just need to ignore them.

That’s because these are behaviors you should not encourage. When you ignore them, the puppy is likely to stop and go away because their little trick to get a treat just did not work.

But before you do this last thing, you want to make sure that they are not howling from loneliness. Ignoring that is not just irresponsible on your part but is also detrimental to your dog’s health.

Also Read: Can Beagles Get Bloat?

If You’re House Training

Toilet training is another aspect that is not optional. You can do this at home and you must focus on getting your beagle not to use your entire house as their personal bathroom.

Here’s how you can get that done.

You need to pick a spot and make sure you train your beagle to understand that it’s their peeing and pooping spot. Typically, this spot is outside the house.

You should also pick a command and use it to let them know that it’s time for them to relieve themselves. That takes the mystery out of the situation for them…eventually.

You should also give them a treat and some praise and petting when they actually do this outside the house as guided by you. That is another sign of telling your dog what is the right way.

But you should remember to keep treats that are exclusive to toilet training. It helps them associate the activity with the treat.

They are likely to mess up your home in the beginning. It is important to remember that scolding your puppy is not going to get you anywhere with them.

Instead, you should make them look at the spot where they “did the deed” and say “no”. They will understand this as a command for unacceptable behavior.

So, you tell them firmly what is not okay and the next time they need to go, you teach them what they should be doing with a specific command. Give them praise and a treat which will make the chain of events make sense.

When you have a puppy, you should keep a close eye on their behavior. This will tell you when they need to pee or poop and it’s go time for you to get started on toilet training.

You need to remember to put your pup on a leash when you take them outside. And don’t forget positive reinforcements in the form of praise and treats.

What Not to Do

If you talk to other dog parents, you will realize that people employ a variety of strategies to discipline their canines. But you need to pick up what works for beagles in general and gently test those theories out on your furry friend.

You absolutely cannot hit your beagle to teach discipline because this makes them aggressive and that’s the opposite of what you want. It also makes them reluctant to train with you, which makes life difficult for you.

You should not shout or scream at your beagle, whether you’re dealing with a pup or a mature dog. It just doesn’t work.

If your dog is not obeying your commands or you are not getting the desired result, you just need to be patient and consistent with them until they get it right. That’s the only way.

You should include positive reinforcement at the end of each job prescribed to the dog. Every single time they do something right, you should praise and pet them and give them a treat.

The plus side to this behavior is that it is friendly and it reduces any anxiety your beagle might be experiencing.

And after every training session, you should give them a little more TLC because they were *such a good boy*.

Absolutely do not use any kind of equipment (like leashes or whips) to hurt your dog. It is cruel and it doesn’t work either.

Also Read: Are Beagles Good Swimmers?


Beagles have a strong sense of smell and are very good at hunting because they were bred to be so. So, they can detect a lot of smells all the time which distracts them a lot.

This makes training hard unless you use those traits to your advantage. Now you know all those tricks and then some.

Good luck training!