Am I harming the dog?

We have a small beagle mix who has what I think is short man’s syndrome.

Exhibit A.

He is basically a city dog from a shelter and now lives up in the mountains on a plot of land that any dog would drool over. Several acres of fenced in gorgeous property with all the voles he can eat! [Can’t seem to keep him out of the vole holes…]

Anyway - he is an aggressive cuddler -who was subsequently kicked out of the bedroom at night due to his poor bed manners. A crate did not work as it simply made him go bananas and roll around until we let him out.

He is sleeping soundly at night now that we got a doggy-door so he can go check out the mountain animals from the safety of the porch [yes, I know a mountain lion will not see any problem with climbing the porch to apprehend said agressive cuddler] but for now it works.

However, his arrogance has been getting slightly worse, he understands I am alpha, but when we scold him or redirect him to not do something, be blatently [silently] goes and does it again, and again. No matter how many times we redirect or positively reinforce an opposite behavior.

Example, there was a rabbit killed on the far end of the property and he went over and started to consume it. I took it from him and hucked it over the fence. He proceeded to dig. So I went and got it from the other side of the fence and threw it in the trash. As soon as I went inside he went to the fence and began digging again. After multiple redirects he still did not listen…2 days of this and still nothing after more redirects.

My last dog was a Rhodesian who listened to what I said. This dog after 6 months of half-assed training still listens to very little, or forgets his training after 2.4 seconds.

Am I some how harming this dog by continually reinforcing alpha status with me and my SO? He is with most other dogs a Beta, and only tries to be alpha for a short period…What am I doing wrong? Having had dogs most my life, this guy is a hard learn! Do I simply continue the repitition?

I would guess that you aren’t enforcing strongly enough that you are the leader. I was able to successfully get this point across to my two German Shepherds with no yelling, hitting, pulling or pushing. It was a ton of work and I’m now a Cesar Milan devotee.

It sounds like your dog has a great little life though! :slight_smile:

I am NOT a vet, dog trainer or anyone else with real expertise in this field.

I have, however, owned and trained many dogs.

You say that he lives up in the mountains, but how often do you actually exercise him (take him on walk or play fetch, etc.)? Beagles are very hardworking dogs that require more exercise than many large dogs. If not properly controlled, a Beagle’s excess energy can overwhelm it and cause unwanted, fixated behavior.

Another possible solution (that may not be at all feasible for you) is to get another dog. Not only will a second dog likely tire your Beagle out, but the companionship could take care of his aggressive cuddling.

Of course, that second dog would have to be the right fit. If you bring an unstable dog in, you could easily cause more harm than good.

He sounds like a beagle! LOL! They are notoriously difficult to train and hard-core diggers. One trick I’ve heard is that they respond better to hand signals than to verbal commands. Another is that “rolling” them is necessary (this is controversial.)

Your post is a little unclear to me though. Do you mean that you are somehow making him out to be alpha? (If so, that’s a bad idea.) Or are you saying that you are constantly trying to show him that he is not alpha, and that you are worried you might be over doing it?

Either way, what exactly have you done?

If I had to guess at what’s going wrong, this sentence is it. Half-assed training might work with some dogs that are submissive to begin with, but the more intelligent or dominant the breed, the more you have to be on top of the training and asserting yourself as alpha. It’s something you’ll likely have to do constantly. If you start to slack off some time down the road you’ll end up back where you started.

Reinforcing alpha status is what you NEED to do and you are not harming your dog. If anything, most dogs are happier when they don’t have to step up and try to lead, since their humans won’t follow them.

Welcome to the World of Beagles! (It’s all their world, it turns out.)

Unfortunately most beagles need more than half-assed training. I would recommend reading the book “What the dog did,” which is about how a woman was able, with a huge amount of consistent effort, to take a totally disobedient beagle and train her to sorta more-or-less behave. (She got help from a professional trainer.)

Good luck with your beagle.


The latter, that I am constantly showing him he is not the alpha and that I may be over doing it.

To be clear, he is a beagle lab mix, and the dominant genes must come from the Beagle side.

One thing he does is jump on other larger dogs when he sees them and is allowed to play with them. This bothers me to no end and I try and correct him but every time he sees another different large dog he does the same thing. The one thing that gets him to stop this is if the other larger dog is more dominant then he. We have close friends with a border collie and that dog puts our dog in his place every time they are together.

We are actually planning on getting another dog, and a border collie is so far, the top of the list. Or another Rhodesian Ridgeback…however, the ridgeback would require a lot of time to train…

Sounds like every beagle I’ve ever known, actually. I’ve often seen Beagles ranked among the hardest to train dogs.

He’s a beagle. This is beagle behavior. He also smells better than you could ever possibly understand so of course he’s going to keep looking for the rabbit.

You’re also anthropomorphizing way too much. Dogs aren’t arrogant and dogs aren’t blatant. You seem far too invested in what is pretty normal (if undesirable) canine behavior.

I’m surprised that no one has mentioned yet that your biggest problem is that he’s a beagle.


He’s just acting like a beagle. Once their little minds latch on to something, they go after it intently. Often with total disregard for their master’s disapproval–I think because their focus is so single-minded. It’s not arrogant. He’s not a person. His mind is much simpler than that. He simply doesn’t understand why you are thwarting him. “Dogged pursuit” is the name of the game with beagles. This is why some people–even beagle lovers–say beagles are stupid. (Sweet as can be, though.)

I think what would probably help most is to familiarize yourself more with the breed. Then find training developed more specifically for beagles. There are a lot of beagle lovers in my circles, and I can tell you, training takes a long time, and never seems to end completely.

They’re hard to train because beagles are dumb. Sweet, but dumb. My brother’s beagle wore a (soft) muzzle every night for ten years because he simply couldn’t grasp that barking at night=muzzle. He’d look forelorn every night when he saw the muzzle, but couldn’t keep from barking and waking the neighbors.

Is the other dog playing too? If so, let him jump all over them. Dogs don’t need to be taught how to play unless they have a serious psychological issue (like aggression).

For a while my Mom owned medium-large mixed breed (a mutt, but something like a German Shepherd/Collie/Lab mix). Then, she got a Welsh Corgi puppy. The two LOVED to play together and the bigger one would let the Corgi win sometimes, turning on her back and letting the little one play-bite her throat. It wasn’t pretty, but they both had a great time.

I’m not an expert but I’ve watched the Dog Whisperer a bunch. Throwing the rabbit away is just avoiding the problem, your dog didn’t learn anything. Cesar would’ve set the rabbit in front of the dog and then “owned” the rabbit ie. not let the dog get near it or touch it. This teaches the dog that its your rabbit.

Well, how are you enforcing alpha-hood? Maybe you need a different approach …

I have a stubborn dog, the first one in my life - also a shelter dog and very high energy.

I started with basic commands several times a day, just to get her used to obeying. And we started on not eating before a command immediately. I still run her through her commands (sit, lie down, stay, release, here) several times a week. She’s a lot better, and she really does like the pack structure.

So, we made sure she had the concept of positive commands (“here”)down first, before we tried negative one (“stop eating my shoes”).

I still can’t trust her, and I don’t think I ever will, but I don’t worry too much about having to return her.

I am hoping to teach her to jump rope next; she really needs the work-out.

As for rough-housing with other dogs, unless you worry she will hurt them, can you just trust the other dogs to teach him some manners?

This is a really good point. Cesar is my favorite dog expert.

I have always believed that it is best to have two dogs, but please do not add a Border Collie to this mix. A companion is a good idea, but not until you’ve conquered the problem, and not a high-energy dominant dog.

First you need to establish yourselves with this dog, or he will just teach the new dog that there is a hierarchy struggle, and the new dog will bring it’s own dysfunctional strategy to the mix.

When you are ready for another dog, you need a laid back, large and lower energy dog to balance things. The new dog will probably be younger, so the puppy energy will balance out over time.

You haven’t told us what you are doing to establish dominance. Please elaborate, then maybe we can be more constructive.

Great points so far.

Have you taught your dog “leave it!” yet? It’s what TurboNuke says, but only at a training level - instead of using the insatiable smell of a dead rabbit.

What we did in my dog’s school was to:

  1. Put a piece of hot dog on the floor. Walk the dog by the hot dog, on a leash. Pop the leash and say “LEAVE IT!” as you walked by. Eventually they can walk by the hot dog without going for it.

  2. Have the dog lie down and put a treat on the floor in front of them, first out of reach, and tell them to “LEAVE IT!” Make the dog leave it for a little bit, then hand them the treat - don’t let them grab it themselves. Move the treat closer every time you work on it. Eventually you can balance a treat on their paw and they will leave it.

  3. Put out a row of treats. Have the dog sit and stay about 5’ from the row. You walk 5’ on the other side of the row. Call them. If they go for the treats instead of you, “LEAVE IT!” and “COME!”

  4. Have the dog sit. Give the dog a bone (like a rawhide). Make him stay. Take away the bone. If he won’t give it to you or if he growls, rap him on the nose and vocalize your displeasure. Once you’ve got it, give it back. Repeat.

This is an amazing and useful skill for a dog to have. It helps establish dominance and can save their lives. It’s way different than “NO!”

Oh and also to get him to not dig in the hole he’s already dug, try putting some of his own poop in the hole. Works for my dog - she’s totally offended by the smell of her own poop.

And, I second the idea of not getting a border collie. You don’t seem to like to be “outsmarted” by a beagle. Wait until you try to have a dog with brains and boundless energy :slight_smile:

Watch Cesar Millan, you’ll probably realize immediately what you’re doing wrong. From your description I’d say you aren’t being very alpha at all, you’re just interfering with him. If you were truly alpha and he truly respected you, you could put the dead bunny right in under his nose and he wouldn’t touch it.