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A beagle and loose leash walking.

3165 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  petpeeve
I have a 13 year old beagle who we have suffered with having him drag us around while he is sniffing to his happiness. I am attempting to train him to be a better walking partner (and he already is), but I am wondering what to expect from a scent hound in terms of loose leash walking. See, I am not wanting to create an obedience zombie, just level the playing field between he and us.

He usually does well in a typical block, no tremendous smells, a treat every 20' or so will keep him attentive and the leash slack.

Good smells will cause him to dart right or left to the limit of the leash. I am not dinging him on these excursions, as smells are his game, and he's not dragging me usually. After the sniff he returns to be attentive to me, and gets a treat.

Then there are those rarities in suburban life, actually trackable smells. His head will drop and nose will turn into a hoover vacuum cleaner, and I am gone for seconds to many minutes. After the sniff he is in the ozone, so I need to get him back on the program with backing up on a tight leash several times until he regains the program.

Should I work to limit the side to side motions? What about his tracking activities? Its not that I want to stop him, as it is his life too. I would like to make them kinder, or is that not possible? It would be nice to have him be gentler on his excursions, and to have him come back to the program after tracking something? I understand that it can be tough to teach an old dog new tricks, but he is taking to general loose leash walking pretty darn well, and that has left me with what more to do. I am also wondering about teaching him off leash instructions, as our other dog is wonderful off leash, as she is part herding dog.
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Have you had this tracking machine for the entire 13 years. Some of what you want to do is very possible , however , off leash work will take a lot of training. Some of this has to do with what you expect in off leash work. I train and run hounds for off leash tracking and expect my dogs to always stay within recall or sight distance from me in wooded hunting areas. Having said this , it is important to remember that these are hunting dogs and when on scent or in high drive it is very difficult to recall , which is actually what you want. When **** hunting I have to pair up my team carefully because they must work well together tracking. If I put the wrong pair together they will fight over which one is going to eat the **** after they have it up the tree. The drive in hunting breed dogs can be very strong.

For basic pet/companion training you can improve on behavior , but , for the safety of the dog I would be very careful here about off leash work in an area with road traffic.

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The drive in hunting breed dogs can be very strong.
That's putting it mildly! My beagle mix is the same way. I've found that using the . . . darn, what is it called? the blank Principle? oh well . . . I forget what it's called, but you reward "good" behavior by allowing the "bad" behavior. (I'm using "good" to mean desired and "bad to mean undesired. There's nothing inherently bad about a beagle tracking scents.) So if Kabota walks nicely on a loose leash, I'll allow him to track a scent through a field as a reward. If he tries to pull me all over the place, no field time.

I don't know that either one of us is ever going to train scent tracking out of a beagle, not that we want to, but you can certainly achieve a dog that walks nicely on a leash 99% of the time.
Recall during a hunt with scenthounds, man, that sounds like a job. Yes, we have had this pulling machine for 13 years as of last Wednesday. The old methods of choke chains and pinch collars did nothing to control him, but clicker training has got his attention. I agree, all off leash trials with this boy are going to be far from traffic.

I never thought of using a scent track as a treat, but it sounds good to me. It also seems that maybe an excursion to the left or right of a sidewalk could be a treat too. I just wonder how to administer this.
I grew up with beagles - beagles kept in kennels outside, or on chains, and used to hunt. I, of course, treated them as pets, and to heck with my father. I discovered pretty fast that even these friendly, but horribly untrained and unsocialized pups could be decent on a leash with the right motivation to keep their nose focused on me, rather than on the ground and that rabbit trail.

..I took a lot of walks with a pocket or handful of bacon or homemade liver jerky. Worked like a DREAM. STunk to high heaven, but worked beautifully. They'd get distracted, I'd wave a treat. Before long they stayed close, waiting for me to dole out the next (stinky!) treat.
I've found that using the . . . darn, what is it called? the blank Principle? oh well . . . I forget what it's called, but you reward "good" behavior by allowing the "bad" behavior.
the "Gotta be a Better Squirrel" Principle ??? lol

All kidding aside, I believe the term you're looking for is the "Premack" Principle.

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