Sometimes, especially with our beagle friends, reality looks a little bit different. It looks more like this: You get back home from work ready to take your beagle out for a walk. Your beagle starts jumping and running in circles. As soon as you are outside you are pulled wherever your beagle fancies sniffing around. You pull back on the leash trying to make your beagle slow down with very little success.
You feel frustrated and sometimes even embarrassed and you start dreading taking your beagle out for walks. Your beagle, in turn, doesn’t get the necessary doses of exercise and this has even more negative consequences on their behavior at home.
What should you do instead?
Your strategy is to teach your beagle what not to do and what they should be doing instead. Your beagle pulls because they want to move forward. Your job is to teach your beagle that the only way to actually move forward is by slowing down and learning to be by your side.
The first training or retraining steps
- Retrain your beagle to calm down before you actually leave your house. Wait until your beagle calms down and sits quietly to leave.
- If you are training a beagle puppy or retraining your beagle, choose a place (not the street yet) where you can practice leash training and feed your beagle treats as a reward.
- Your first aim is to teach your beagle that staying by your side is the best thing in the world. Walk a couple of steps in front of your beagle and reward them with a treat as soon as they catch up with you and they are by your side. While they are eating, move one step forward and let your beagle catch up with you again and get another treat. You are basically teaching your beagle to stay by your side and not behind you.
- If your beagle gets ahead of you, turn around and back up. You want your beagle to be next to you again. If your beagle pulls, back up and move forwards again only when the leash is loose. If you pull back, you are making the matters worse.
- Reward your beagle for walking on a loose leash by letting them sniff around. They love it and it is part of their fun. Once you are ready to move on say “Let’s go” and reward your beagle for coming with you.
- If your beagle doesn’t seem to want to move on, don’t jerk. Just apply gentle, constant pressure on the leash while you keep walking. You cannot allow your beagle to go on sniffing around after you say “Let’s go” because the association in your beagle’s brain is “Let’s go means nothing, it is something that my friend seems to say all the time but it has no meaning.”
What do you need?
Let’s talk about the gear you will need.
Walking your beagle on their collar is not the best option. If your beagle ever goes for something (remember that beagles are driven by their noses, so it can occasionally happen) all the pressure will be on that point.
When you walk your beagle on their collar and they get to the end of their leash, their bodies start to produce stress hormones that make training even harder. By the way, that is another reason why you don’t want to jerk your beagle and trigger those stress hormones.
If your beagle doesn’t pull, you can get a harness clipping on the back. Avoid it if your beagle pulls, though. A harness that clips on the back provides your beagle with extra leverage and you can get hurt when they pull.
TIP – If you already have a back harness, clip the leash to the front because it will make leash training easier (and you are giving your beagle less leverage if they decide to pull).
A front clipping harness is usually your best choice because it gives you more control.