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Handling An Aggressive Beagle

In all dogs, Beagles included, there are two major types of aggression: aggression towards humans, and aggression towards animals. These are completely different, and stem from completely different causes. This article deals with Beagles that act aggressively towards humans.

Who's the Alpha?

Fortunately, Beagles are not particularly aggressive dogs. Of course, given the necessary circumstances, every dog will act aggressively; the good news is that it shouldn't be overly hard to teach your Beagle that aggressive behavior is not acceptable.

Make sure you haven't 'humanized' your dog. Your dog is a dog. Some owners have a real tendency to think of their dog as a little human, dressed in a furry suit: "Oh, he just doesn't like sharing the couch" or "He only acts that way when he's tired" or "He's just got a big personality" and so on. Aggression is never acceptable and it only stems from ONE cause: your dog thinks he's the boss. From your Beagle's point of view, he's been given ample opportunity to confirm his self-perceived position as the leader of the pack (read: house) and won't back down until you prove that you're the leader, not him.

Aggressive behavior is a sure sign of dominance: whoever your Beagle is acting aggressively to, he considers himself above them in the ranked social structure of the 'pack' (house). If he is acting dominantly towards all members of the family, this means that he considers himself to be the 'alpha' of the entire house.

What's Dominance?

All dogs are pack animals. In every pack, there is one leader; everyone else is a follower. This leader is called the alpha, and everyone obeys the alpha - no questions asked. If your Beagle is acting aggressively to you, this is dominance: that is, he's acting like you're the follower and he's the leader. No follower would EVER show aggression towards the leader.

Your Beagle doesn't 'want' to be number one, but every pack must have a leader to survive. Evidently nobody else in the house is filling that role, so instinct has compelled him to take over, for the good of the pack.

How Aggression Relates to Dominance

No dog will ever show aggression towards a dog that is above him in the pack hierarchy. Dogs will only ever attempt to control or correct other dogs who are below them in the chain of command. By showing aggression to you, your dog is attempting to 'correct' your behavior to what he (as the leader) deems acceptable. Typical aggressive/dominant behavior includes:

  • Snarling, snapping at you if you come near when he's eating
  • Toy guarding: won't allow you to take a toy off him
  • Furniture guarding: won't get off furniture when you tell him to; may become agitated if you sit on it, or otherwise attempt to claim it as yours
  • Bullying for attention: whining excessively, pawing you repeatedly, barking when you're on the phone/reading a book/eating dinner etc.

Ways to Deal With Aggression

Here are some basic tips for dealing with dominance/aggression in your Beagle.

  • First of all, you need to retrain yourself. You wouldn't be in this situation now if you properly understood your dog, so you clearly need to do your homework before you can even think about straightening out your Beagle. Find out about dog psychology and communication; make sure you research the concept of the alpha position as well, and see that from now on you ALWAYS act like an alpha.
  • Forbid access to all furniture: you want to get your dog off your level.
  • Never allow the dog on your bed. If he must sleep in your bedroom, he can sleep on a dog-bed next to your bed. Again, remember that your dog is not a human; to a human, sharing a bed is seen as a sign of love and affection, but to a dog it's a sign that he is of at least equal social position to you - nothing else.
  • Neutering dogs is an effective means of tackling aggression at the source. Testosterone is the aggression hormone, and by neutering your dog, you are removing his desire to act aggressively. Note that this will not 'cure' him of aggression; you will still need to make sure that you're the alpha, and that your dog knows it.
  • When he acts aggressively or unacceptably, turn your back instantly and ignore him. This method of social isolation is a behavior commonly displayed by the alpha of the pack, and is highly effective.
  • NEVER react to aggressive behavior with aggression of your own: this includes corporal punishment, yelling, and humiliating him. Remember, you want to be seen as the alpha; a good alpha doesn't need to yell and kick to reinforce his position. As well, such ignorant and destructive behavior will only prove to your Beagle that you're not to be trusted, and will destroy the owner/dog bond between you.

Get Help

Aggression is a serious matter. Remember, this behavior is not his fault - if you had proved your leadership in a way that your Beagle recognizes, this situation would not have come about. Your Beagle is effectively acting as you have entitled him to: his position as the dominant or alpha dog has been confirmed, since his dominant behavior has not been corrected, and correcting other members of the pack (which is what he's doing when he acts aggressively) is a natural behavior for an alpha.

Never be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Most people are unable to cope with aggressive behavior on their own. For the sake of yourself and your dog, it's best to err on the side of caution; speak to your vet about a referral to an experienced dog trainer in the area who specializes in aggressive behavior.

To learn more about training your aggressive beagle, visit Secrets to Dog Training today!This Beagle training guide looks at all aspects of Beagle aggression, as well as being full of helpful instructions on how to take control of your dog's chewing, digging, barking habits, and much more.

For more information, Click HERE

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