Because beagles are game hounds, their instincts are finely tuned -- including their instinct to bark. His lineage may compel even a well-trained beagle to bark and howl at inopportune times. To stop your pal from becoming a nuisance, train it to listen to you -- not its own instincts.
Ignore your dog when he barks. Frustrating as it may be, you can't demonstrate any reaction -- positive or negative -- when the barking begins. He does this to get your attention, so even if you chastise the animal, he is getting what he wants. No matter how long he keeps barking, you have to be consistent and ignore his cries for attention.
Condition your dog not to fear the stimulus causing his barking. For example, your beagle may bark whenever someone rings the doorbell. In that case, give your dog a command like "speak," then have an assistant ring the doorbell to motivate your dog to bark. As he barks, offer a treat close to his face -- he will stop barking to sniff it, at which point you should give him praise and the treat. Continue this pattern until your dog responds to "speak" without the outside stimulus -- he will learn that barking is an activity best performed on request only.
Teach your dog the "quiet" command. This command is a complement to the "speak" command, as it gives the beagle a cue to stop barking. Give your dog a command of "quiet" when he is barking -- don't yell, but be firm. Make sure you are looking directly at your dog when you give the command. Keep giving the command, and when he stops -- he will eventually, even just for a breather -- give him praise and a treat. Continue this pattern consistently, and your noisy buddy will learn that responding to your command earns him a reward.
- While ignoring the barks is an ideal step in the process, if you live in a close neighborhood or an apartment, allowing your beagle to bark with impunity for hours on end is probably not an option. If that is the case, skip step 1 and proceed directly to teaching your dog commands.
- If your beagle barks when crated, do not let him out -- this only teaches him that barking is a way to get what he wants. Instead, leave something calming in the crate, like an old shirt or pillow that smells like you. Draping the crate with a cloth blocks your dog's vision of the room outside the crate and can also help him relax.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.