When your Beagle puppy first arrives home, begin by getting him used to the members of your immediate family, allowing him time to take stock of his new surroundings and environment. If you have chosen wisely, you will have a merry little puppy, full of fun and afraid of little. He should be very sociable, but don’t overwhelm him with too many visitors and strange faces until he has settled in to your home and knows exactly who his new owners are.
Depending on the age of your puppy, and whether his course of vaccinations is complete, you may or may not be able to take him out in public places immediately. Whichever the case, allow him to settle down at home for the first few days, before venturing into the world. There will be lots you can do with your Beagle puppy, so you both undoubtedly will have great fun, but please allow him to get sufficient rest, too.
If restricted to your home territory for a little while, you can play games with him with suitable, safe, soft toys. Check regularly that sharp or unsafe parts, such as squeakers, do not become detached from the toy. These can cause injury, and your puppy’s teeth will be very sharp, so toys can easily be damaged.
Whether or not you plan to show your Beagle, it is always good to do a little early training, getting him to stand calmly on a table and to lie over to be gently groomed. Both will be helpful on numerous occasions, including visits to the vet when it is much easier to deal with a well-behaved dog, and you will be so proud of your clever companion!
Accustom your puppy to being on a lead, which is always a strange experience for a tiny youngster. Begin by just attaching a simple collar, not too tightly, but not so loose that it can be caught on things, causing panic and possible injury. Just put it on for a few minutes at a time, lengthening each period slightly until your puppy feels comfortable in this additional item of clothing. Don’t expect miracles—this may take a few days.
Then, when your puppy is comfortable in the collar, attach a small, lightweight lead. The one you select must have a secure catch, yet be simple to attach and release as necessary. Until now, your puppy has simply gone where he has pleased and will find it very strange to be attached to someone restricting his movements. For this reason, when training my own puppies, I like to allow them to take me for the first few sessions, then I exert a little pressure, and soon enough training can start in earnest, with the puppy coming with me as I lead the way. It is usual to begin training the puppy to walk on your left-hand side. When this has been accomplished to your satisfaction, you can try moving him on your right, but there is absolutely no hurry. If you plan to show your Beagle, you will generally move your dog on your left, but there are occasions when it is necessary also to move him on your right, so as not to obstruct the judge’s view.
As your puppy gets older, you can teach him to sit, always using the simple one-word command “sit,” while exerting a gentle pressure on his rump, to show him what you expect. This will take a little time, but you will soon succeed, giving plenty of praise when appropriate. Never shout or get angry when your dog does not achieve your aim, for this will do more harm than good. If your Beagle is destined to be a show dog, you may decide not to teach sit, as in the show ring he will be expected to stand.
When your Beagle puppy can venture into public places, begin by taking him to quiet places without too many distractions. Soon you will find his confidence increasing and you can then introduce him to new places with exciting sights, sounds and smells. He must always be on a thoroughly safe lead that cannot be slipped (quite different from the type of lead that is used in the show ring). When you have total confidence in one another, you will probably be able to let him off the lead, but always keep him in sight, and be sure the place you have chosen for free exercise is safe.
Certainly, in the interest of your Beagle’s safety, training and your own sanity, you will need to train your puppy to stay in a crate when required. At most shows, Beagles are housed in crates for at least part of the time while not actually being exhibited in the ring. Crates are also useful for traveling; most dogs seem to look upon them as a safe place to go and don’t mind staying in there for short periods, which can be helpful especially for housetraining.
When you commence crate training, remain within sight of your dog and give him a toy or something to occupy his mind. To begin with, leave him in the crate for very short periods of just a minute or two, then gradually build up the time span. However, never confine a dog to a crate for more than a few hours at a time. A good rule of thumb is a 3-month-old puppy can remain crated for three hours, a 4-month-old puppy for four hours and so forth to a maximum of six hours.
Next Step: Games that help your Beagle learn
Reprinted from Breeder’s Best: Beagle © 2005. Permission granted by Kennel Club Books, an imprint of BowTie Press.