Help needed quickly for Beagle aggression and biting

Posted by KevinRT58
Mar 20, 2012
Hi All,
I need to set up what is happening, so forgive the long post. We have a Beagle pup that is 10 months old. We have had him for 8 months. Since purchasing him from a breeder (we were unable to see him interact with the other pups which we now see was a mistake) we have been experiencing aggression/dominance problems as well as biting when he doesn't want to do what he is told. He has broken my skin numerous times and has also bitten my 4 year old grandson. I am trying to turn him around by being the Alpha dog, but sometimes that seems to get through and sometimes it is like he has forgotten everything. My family have been away from this city for a temporary work assignment and will be back mid-June. I have very limited time to get my dog sorted out or we may have to put him up for adoption. We are not really enjoying him at the moment.
We had another Beagle for 13 years and he was a great dog. He was very compliant and obedient and a complete joy to have. He was like one of the family. Our current pup Cooper is making it very difficult to love him and my wife is days away from sending him away if we can't see progress.
The other issue is that I am unemployed and was unemployed when we got our dog. We don't have the money to hire a trainer which is why I purchased this product.
Other issues we face are his what seems to be separation anxiety (he screams when we put him in his crate and leave the house to run errands). He loves to be outside, but not by himself. If I put him on his chain (we don't have a fenced backyard) and go into the house, he screams and he will scream until I go out again which can be up to 30 minutes. He also never sits down. He has a very short attention span. He is always going from the fron door to the back door looking to see if the neighbor dog is out to play with.
He also jumps up on the tables which is frustrating. He grabs things that are not his and hides under the dining table. I try to ignore him to see if he will come into the room with me. Most of the time he does not come and what is frustrating is that the things he gets are our expensive shoes and I don't want him to ruin them so I have to "chase" him which I'm sure he thinks is the game. but when I do get him and try to lead him to his crate for "time out" he tries to bite me.
I am very frustrated and hinestly at my wits end on how to turn him around. I am still unemployed and cannot afford a professional trainer so I need advice on what to do to fix these problems or else we may send him away which I don't want to do. I truly think any dog is trainable and can be turned around, I'm just not sure how to do this.

Thanks and I look forward to some awesome and helpful advice.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Mar 20, 2012
Hi Kevin,

Well, I don't blame you for being frustrated, but its good to hear you really want to try and solve these problems.

First off - what are you doing as far as alpha training? Can you describe the steps you've taken to try and show Cooper that YOU are boss?

As far as the seperation anxiety - try putting his crate in a small, seperate room. I'm (obviously) not sure where it currently is in your house, but if you can add the stimuli (or lack of) of darkness, being shut off, and quiet, if may help him calm down quickly. Try putting a shirt or blanker that smells of you/your family in his crate to help make him feel better. The key is, LEAVE HIM until he's QUIET. I know you said he's gone on for 30 minutes, but if you keep letting him out when he's crying and howling, he'll just keep doing it. It takes a lot of perserverance, I know, but its how this sort of thing works. Same for when he's outside - shut curtains or anything so that he can't sit and watch you, and only let him in once he's calm.

If Cooper is trying to bite you as you're putting him in time out, start using a lead. Snap it on, then take him to his crate. If he growls, correct him quickly with a tug and a sharp "no". Obviously you're not aiming to hurt him, but you want to snap him out of it. You can also try stomping your foot or clapping your hands together to make a loud noise to help startle him out of being a bit naughty. I believe greatly in time outs for bad behaviour, so I would say to continue doing this when he acts up - just need to tweak it a bit (with the leash) so you don't get hurt. Just until he starts to respond better.

As far as jumping up on tables and stealing things, for now I think its best to just block his access to the places he's stealing from. Until you get a grip on his behaviour overall - alpha training, responding to commands - it just removes the temptation for him, and will help you not get so frustrated. Keep doors closed, use a few baby gates in doorways, put belongings where he can't reach them, etc. It sounds like Cooper needs work on basic listening before you can try to stop this sort of thing.

In the meantime, if you're home most of the time, have 10-15 minute training sessions at least once every couple hours. Just work on basics - name recognition, coming when called, sit, stay...make it fun, mix it up with playtime and treats. I would suggest working on a "leave it" or "enough" command - I trained my own dog to "enough" and "no" for times when he was getting into things he shouldn't or acting up in general. This sort of command will help you keep control of his stealing behaviour later on - if you find him with something, being assured that he'll drop something if you say "leave it" will make life way easier!

I certainly hope other members have bits and pieces they can offer, and I hope my 2 cents makes sense and maybe helps you out. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you and Cooper both!
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Mar 21, 2012
Hi Kevin,

I am also glad that you are willing to retrain him instead of getting rid of him. I am sorry but I have to bring to your attention that each one of Cooper's bad behaviors is a result of his learning experience, in other words, you and your family have taught him the bad behaviors inadvertantly during the last 8 months. I foster dogs and find home for those dogs after retraining them. Getting rid of Cooper that has behavioral problems means to transfer your problems to someone else. In the worst scenario, Cooper might bite someone and get euthanized as a "aggressive dangerous dog"

It will take a long time but I am sure Cooper can learn how to behave in more approriate ways. I think Caroline's suggestions are wonderful so you might want to strat right away.

In order to solve each of the issues, it is sometimes important and helpful to think why he got the bad habit.

1) Biting - I think he used to or still does give you some warnings before he actually bite you, such as growling or snapping. For example, what did you do when he gets hold of things that he's no supposed to? Did you give up taking the thing back from him since he growled? By doing that, he soon learns that growling works to get his way. Then, it could get escalated to biting. He now knows how to get his way - by biting. Same thing can be said for barking or whining for some dogs. Owners give attention to them since they get tired of hearing their barking and whining. This teaches the dog to bark/whine in order to get attention. Cooper's separation anxiety sounds like this case.

2) Stealing foods - he gets away by stealing tasty foods. Who would learn not to do that if you can get away with it. Dogs learn things by consequences. As he succeeds the stealing more and more, he will more likely to repeat it. Until he learns to listen to you and behave better, I would just make sure that all foods will be physically out of his reach.

I think all his problems come from he thinks he doesn't need to listen to you and he can make all decisions as he likes

In order to teach him that is not true, you will need to start from very basic obedience training. You are the provider of his foods and fun, such as walks. You should take an advantage of your position. Let's start with making him work to get half of foods. I hate to give lessons when dogs are too hungry so I would give him half of his meal. Then, make him work to earn the rest of his meal. Good thing is that you have plenty of time for the time being. There are all kinds of youtube video how to train your dog "sit" "down" "stay" "leave it" and "drop it".

When you walk him, make sure he is NOT the one to decide which way to go. He also needs to learn not to pull you.

Anyway, I don't have much time right now since I have to take one of my dogs to a class Let us know how your basic training goes. Good luck
Posted by KevinRT58
Apr 9, 2012
Hi KOPCaroline,
Sorry it has taken my some time to get reply. I saw in some of the information about caging my dog for 48 hrs (only to let him out to eat and potty) which we did a couple of weeks ago. It seems to have helped to a certain degree. If he grabs something he shouldn't grab he runs off and hides under the dining room table. If I ignore him, he will chew the item to pieces (typically shoes). If I try to take it off him, he sometimes reverts back to snarling and trying to bite (although he's not breaking skin this time). If I try to lead him to his cage for a time-out, he falls on his side and if I try to move him he snarls and tries to bite. Once in his cage, we ignore him for a while. I have a 4 year old grandson that I am worried about that if he tries to move our dog or take something back from him he will bite him 9he did it once before before we realized he was being the alpha dog). This is very frustrating as while it has improved some, it has not improved as quickly as I'd hoped. I need more help as to what to do to curb his behavior as quickly as possible.
He still jumps on the dining table and knows that it is wrong which I think is why he snarls at me when he is being reprimanded. Just found out my daughter is pregnant again so a new baby will be here at the end of the year. But I need to get this resolved before June when my daughter, son-in-law and grandson return to the area. I need additional pointers quickly. I wish I knew of someone who could assess what we are doing to give pointers (and do it for free since I am under-employed).
Thanks for your help.
Posted by KevinRT58
Apr 9, 2012
Hi MaxHollyNoah,
I certainly do take the blame on giving our dog too much freedom from the very beginning and probably giving in a little too much. However, saying that I never give in (nor gave in) to his biting and the puncture marks on my arm would prove that. In talking to our local vet, they told us to flip the dog on his back or to pullhis nose to the ground. That worked with our first Beagle when he tried to assert himself (15 years ago befor he died 2 years ago), but it only made our current dog more angry. Again, the broken skin on my arms would attest to that.
So while I'll take full responsibility for too much too early, I think he was showing the behaviors from the beginning. I've never had an alpha dog, ever, and so this was new and very frustrating to me.
While he is a very smart dog (he knows how to sit, lie down, come, sit up on his hind legs and roll-over) he doesn't really seem like he wants to get it. He is certainly (at least at this point) not wanting to please his master (which makes it difficult to get close to him). I am following him around the house because he never seems like he wants to settle down. He has toys he can play with and his own things to chew, but he keeps getting things he is not supposed to get. When he gets them, we take them off him and he goes on time out for a little bit.
We are just very frustrated that it seems like he's got this streak in him that he doesn't want to get rid of or we can get it out of him.
We do not and have not given him any people food but he tries to get it anyway. So when we eat, he has to be in his cage.
The big thing as you say is that he still thinks he is in charge.
So here's also what we do.

We eat before he does or we (my wife and I) pretend to eat his food out of his bowl. When I set the bowl down, he cannot eat until I allow him too. Sometimes, I get his bowl when he is in between mouthfuls and pretend to eat again (advice I've seen in the aggressive dog training). We also go through the door to outside before he does. He has to sit to get his leash on and can then only come through the door when I tell him he can go out. I put him on a short leash when I don't want him to roam to potty. Otherwise, he walks next to me. I don;t allow him to pull and I frequently stop and make him sit. So I thought I was doing all the right things.
I'm just frustrated that there doesn't seem to be much more progress than not biting as hard or just as often. And it is frustrating because he is a smart dog and we know he knows what we are talking about.

Thanks all for your comments and more help would certainly be appreciated.
Posted by dtismv
Apr 12, 2012
Hi, just my novice two cents here,
Gosh, this sounds so stressful. I didn't see a mention of neutering, but if you haven't already I would assume that would be an important step to consider?

We've had the problem of adolescent pup grabbing things she shouldn't have and being difficult about releasing them: it really helped us to strictly limit her access to things, be they shoes or things off the table or what-have-you, and not give her run of the house. I noticed your mention of having to follow him around room to room: Cooper may actually be enjoying all the attention he gets when he grabs something, even if its negative attention, so confining to a puppy-proofed gated area or single room with only his approved chew toys may help to avoid these situations and maybe help to short circuit that cycle. I read somewhere, one of Ian Dunbar's books I think, that even once potty-trained, a pup shouldn't really have free run of the house until he is over a year old.

I know you were asking about other resources for training assistance that wouldn't be too expensive: have you thought about going back to consult with the dog's breeder? I would hope a responsible breeder would be willing to offer some assistance. Not to advocate for rehoming but just to share, when I was a kid my family had an experience with a dog who was really just "too much dog" for our family: his breeder helped us to rehome him with a professional dog trainer and helped us pick another pup who was a much better fit for our family.
Good luck!
Posted by dtismv
Apr 12, 2012
Also consider whether he's getting enough exercise. A really good solid 30-60 minute walk every morning may help burn off some of that excess teenage energy.