Beagles have a reputation as dogs that are difficult to housetrain, but our experience suggests that they are as easy to housetrain as any other breed!
There are several different ways to housetrain a dog. In the rescue, we advocate the use of a crate. The animal is placed in a cage that is just large enough to be a bed. Dogs do not like to soil their beds because they would be forced to lay in the mess. It works, and while in these confines, most dogs will control their bladder and bowels for a longer time than we would expect. During housebreaking, whenever the dog is inside the home but cannot be watched, he is placed in the crate. The last thing you do before you put the dog in the crate is take him outside to his favorite spot. The first thing you do when you take the animal out of the crate is another trip outside. No food or water goes in the crate, just a blanket and maybe a chew toy to occupy his time. Overnight is definitely crate time. As your faith in the dog grows, leave him out for longer and longer periods of time.
Verbal Communications – Specific verbal communications will also help the dog understand what is desired. It is an excellent idea to always use a word when it is time to head to the bathroom. Remember that whenever you use a verbal command or signal, it is important that everybody in the family always uses the same word in the same way. Once outside, we try to encourage the pup to get on with the act in question. As soon as they eliminate, it is very important to praise them with a “Good Dog” and then come back inside immediately.
Catching him in the Act – Do not get mad. Quickly, but calmly pick him up and without raising your voice sternly say “No.” Carry him outside. It will help to push their tail down while you are carrying them as this will often help them to stop urinating or defecating any more. They are going to be excited when you get them outside, but stay there with them a while and if they finish the job, reward them with a treat or with enthusiastic praise like “Good Dog.”
Finding an Accident After the Fact– If you don’t catch your dog doing it – then don’t punish him for it! Discipline will not help because unless you catch the dog in the act, he will have no idea what the scolding is for. Your dog has urinated and defecated hundreds of times before he met you. Dogs are just like our children. Unless something was really fun (and a repetitious act like going to the bathroom is not), they are not thinking about what they did in the past. They are thinking about what they can do in the future. Anyway, let us face it. It was your fault, not the pup’s. If you had been watching, you would have noticed the puppy suddenly walking or running around in circles with his nose down smelling for the perfect spot to go to the bathroom. It is just as consistent as the taxi cab driver behind you honking immediately when the light changes. The dog will show the same behavior every time. It may vary a little from pup to pup but they always show their own “pre-potty pattern” before the act
Feeding Schedule – The feeding schedule you use can help or hinder housebreaking. You will soon notice that dogs will need to go outside soon after they wake and also within 30 to 40 minutes after eating. Be consistent when you feed the animal so you can predict when they need to relieve themselves. Plan your trips outside around these patterns.
Consistency is key! Be sure that you and the entire family always have the same expectations and use the same training methods.
Don’t forget, even house trained dogs have accidents every once in a while (especially if they are in a new environment). So if you just recently adopted a dog from us or any other organization and you were told you new pooch was already housetrained, do not be surprised if he or she has accidents in the first few days. A lot of housetraining involves teaching humans how to read canine signals. Every dog displays different signals. They key is for you to figure out what your dog’s signals are and get them out the door before the accident occurs.