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.