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HELP with extreme squealing / pulling / baying on leash walks.

2353 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Minnie McG
Our 4 year old beagle Josh was a rescue from Kentucky and likely bred and trained to hunt. He was starved half to death when found with another dog. We have had him for two years and he has done fantastic with training - he is the best dog we have ever had in all respects EXCEPT in his inability to walk on leash without waking up the entire neighbourhood and pulling our arms out of our sockets. Otherwise he is a super affectionate, obedient and eager to please dog.

We have tried a martingale collar, easy walk harness, 2hounds no-pull harness and currently use the combo of a blue9 balance harness (front clip) and martingale that provides some direction. When he is not on a scent, he knows how to walk loosely on leash, "leave it", heel, and sits and waits before we cross intersections. However, all of this great training is completely lost when he gets in his hunting "mood" which is marked first by high pitched squealing and pulling and escalates into non-stop baying, full-body shaking, and lunging at literally anything that moves. It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

We have been stared at, accused of abusing our dog, asked to leave parks, and generally don't dare to leave the 3-block radius around our house where he is slightly less excited by scents.

Many people say "oh, it's just a beagle" but do not understand the extreme level to which his hunting drive affects him... We live in a big city with lots of beagles and I have never seen another dog behave like him. I understand the breed and my goal is not for him to walk like a GSP or retriever. We also take lots of trips to off-leash areas where he runs and roams free 2 times per week. I just want to walk around my neighbourhood in some peace!

At this point we really feel we need help in learning how to psychologically "break" his focus from hunting. We have introduced the simple command "look" and rewarding him with a treat when he looks at us, even for a moment, when he is worked up. This is easy enough and seems to be successful but then he goes straight back to the scent. We are a bit lost as to where to go from here. Would love to hear from others who have had a similar experience. What worked and what didnt?

Any recommendations for trainers experienced in working with beagles would also be appreciated! We live in Toronto.
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We are on our 2nd beagle just like yours, I feel your pain! Vazzle was the worst - we were asked to leave pet stores, had all the same comments you get. We took her for private training and that helped a lot. One thing that worked well with both Vazzle and Oliver was using hot dog pieces as training tools. My husband cooks them in the micro and cuts them up in small pieces, and they are only used for training. For Vazzle we used the prong collar (recommended by our trainer) and the hot dogs. Kept her on a VERY short leash and she was rewarded very few feet she moves forward correctly. Oliver isn't quite as bad as she was so the martingale collar works okay for him.
Thanks for your reply! It's so helpful to know someone who has experienced issues to the same level. Yup, we are right on the hot dog training team. They are the most effective treats, for sure. We actually don't even cook them because the ones we buy are pre-cooked.

How long did it take Vazzle to progress beyond that stage? We're kind of wondering when we can stop giving him treats every few feet..... if ever?!
Hello from a fellow Torontoian!

Xerxes is leash reactive (and bays at dogs at off-leash parks when trying to get them to play with him...he's got the worst manners, I've stopped taking him) so will bay at other dogs (sometimes; we've worked a lot on leave it/quiet/having him sit instead).

He does also bay sometimes at scents...it's worse if we're hiking, or on trail walks in the city (generally a certainty then)...but I've walked him through the neighbourhood at 6am with him tracking scents and baying, no matter what I did (yikes!).

We walk Xerxes on a martingale, it gives us more control.

I'm not sure if dog training centres are open for in-person classes right now. Agis, our (non-beagle) teenager was very nervous as a pup so we had some private in-home sessions from When Hounds Fly. I liked our trainer. Agis and I have been doing virtual training classes with the Toronto Humane Society, but I don't think that would help this specific scenario.
Thanks for the tip! I’ve heard good things about When Hounds Fly before so they will definitely be at the top of our list.

I have to say that I checked out your previous posts and was delighted to see that you’ve taken Xerxes hiking! We actually did the full La Cloche Silhouette trail this past summer (incredible) but left Josh with family. Our day hikes with him so far have proven disastrous...

xerxes definitely has that beagle bay! I have to say he looks quite happy doing it. I don’t mind joshs baying so much except that it seems like he is possessed... it’s a full body shaking, continuous strangling cry situation. 😢

Did you find that wearing a backpack makes a difference?
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