- Making friends with your Beagle
- Helping your Beagle enjoy his first visit to the vet
- Establishing a daily schedule
- Launching your Beagle’s social life
- Coping with your Beagle’s issues
The next few days can be a lovely time as you and your new Beagle get to know each other. For your Beagle, this is when he begins to learn the lay of the land, including how things work in his new home and who takes care of him (that would be you). For you, these days are when you need to attend to certain details, such as that first veterinary exam, establishing your dog’s daily routine, laying the groundwork for training, and — most important of all — falling in love with your Beagle.
Bonding with Your Beagle
Jump-starting the bonding process
– Commit some time. Plan on taking a few days off — or, at the very least, a weekend — to acclimate your Beagle to life in your household and to acclimate yourself to living with your Beagle.
– Forget business as usual. Don’t try too hard to keep up your usual routines these first few days. Immerse yourself in Beagle care and Beagle love. There’s time enough to get back to everyday life. Enjoy these precious new days with your little hound.
– Keep your sense of humor. Your Beagle is a canine clown. As he gets used to his interesting new home, he will look for ways to entertain himself. His explorations may include diving into wastebaskets, shredding magazines left on coffee tables, running off with a family member’s lingerie, and other creative diversions. You can view these sparks of mischief as annoying, and no one would blame you. But a better approach — for the sake of your sanity, not to mention your bond with your Beagle — is to laugh at his antics, even as you take steps to ensure that he has as few opportunities as possible to indulge in those antics.
Minimize the hassles that often accompany life with a hound dog by keeping your home as Beagle-proofed as possible. Keep drawers, doors, and closets closed; place wastebaskets beyond your Beagle’s reach; and remove stray items from coffee tables and other furnishings. For more Beagle-proofing tips, see Chapter Welcoming Your Beagle Home.
– Tether him to you. Help your Beagle learn to look to you for what he needs by keeping him with you whenever possible. Keep his crate in your bedroom at night, and move his crate to wherever you are during the day so he can be with you at all times. And when he’s out of his crate while you’re bustling around the house, put his leash on and bring him with you. The next section has tips on how to teach your Beagle to accept his collar and leash.
Getting a new leash (and collar) on life
– Start with the collar. Buckle or snap the collar around your dog’s neck, and then just let him react to it. Let him paw it, run around, and otherwise demonstrate his displeasure. Keep the collar on for a few minutes, then remove it, and try attaching it again a little while later. Eventually, he’ll accept it. I promise.
– Let him be a drag. After your little hound accepts the collar, attach the leash — but don’t pick up the other end. Just let him drag the leash around until he gets used to the way it feels.
– Perform a quick pickup. When your Beagle matter-of-factly accepts the leash and collar, pick up the other end of the leash but don’t move. Just hold the leash for a minute or two.
– Take a hike. Once your dog is cool with you holding the other end of the leash, try walking with him a little bit. While you move, hold a treat within sniffing distance to encourage him, and give him the treat if he cooperates. Pretty soon you’ll be ready for Chapter Schooling Your Beagle and serious walking lessons.
Visiting the Vet: The First Exam
Bring any health records you have for your new Beagle, and, if possible, a stool sample. The records enable the vet to determine what immunizations and other medications your dog needs, while the stool sample can reveal the presence of parasites, such as worms. Information on how to collect a stool sample appears in Chapter Managing Your Beagle’s Day-to-Day Health.
– A single shot to prevent rabies, a disease that’s deadly to both dogs and people. Almost all state laws require that dogs and other domestic animals be vaccinated against rabies. The first rabies shots are given at around 16 weeks of age; the second shot, a booster, comes about a year later. After that, dogs get rabies shots every one to three years, depending on local laws.
– A series of combination shots to prevent other serious diseases, such as parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, and parainfluenza. Puppies often receive the first of these shots, often called the DHLPP, at the age of 6 weeks, with three subsequent shots dispensed at three-week intervals.
– A shot to prevent bordetella, also known as kennel cough, if you plan to board your Beagle often or take him to places where other dogs gather, such as a dog park, doggy day care, or obedience class. Your vet also may recommend shots to prevent Lyme disease or other illnesses, depending on where you live and your dog’s needs.
Ask your vet whether she can give your dog each of these three shots during separate visits. Spacing out these immunizations can help avoid overtaxing your Beagle’s immune system.
Don’t buy over-the-counter deworming products. Your vet can prescribe far more effective deworming products that deal specifically with the particular wiggly critters that are bothering your Beagle.
Starting Daily Routines
Divining a dining schedule
The number of meals you dispense to your four-legged friend each day depends on his age. Young puppies generally need three meals daily: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After your little hound passes the 4-month mark, though, you can cut back to two meals per day, morning and evening.
Keep up the twice-daily meal routine throughout your Beagle’s life. Morning and evening meals are easier on his tummy — and easier on you. The reason: A hungry Beagle is more likely to be bored, less likely to sleep, and if alone, more likely to vent his frustration by eating things in your house. Chapter Feeding Your Beagle offers tips for what to feed and how to feed your dog.
Pacing potty breaks
Setting snoozing cycles
Glamming it up
Socializing Your Beagle
Exploring the home front and beyond
– Encourage exploration. Encourage your pooch to explore his home environment — under your supervision, of course.
– Show him your stuff. Show him umbrellas, vacuum cleaners, blow dryers, and other potential fear-inducing objects. Start from a distance and work your way closer. Check out the “Taming the monsters: Vacuum cleaners and blow-dryers” section later in this chapter for more pointers on dealing with these appliances.
– Introduce novelty. Introduce him to stairways, doorways, and other novel structures; this chapter tells you how.
– Have some company. After you’ve had your Beagle home for a few days, invite friendly people and their pets (make sure the critters are vaccinated!) over to meet your new family member.
– Go gadding about. Take your Beagle out and about. Bring him to a school yard to watch the kids play at recess; take him to a public area to see the goings-on. I brought my puppy to a supermarket parking lot and sat on a bench with her. When passersby stopped to pet her, I gave them a treat to give her. To this day, my now-grown dog is crazy about people and works a room like a politician.
If your Beagle puppy hasn’t had all his shots, carry him to new places and hold him in your arms. Don’t let him walk on surfaces where other dogs may have been; such dogs may not have been fully immunized and could transmit communicable diseases to your puppy. Make sure, too, that any animals that visit you and your puppy at home are fully immunized.
– Go mobile. Take your Snoopy-dog for short, frequent car rides to many places — not just to the vet! The “Learning to love car rides” section in this chapter provides advice on helping your Beagle avoid getting automotive issues, or overcome those he may already have.
Easing a fearful adult dog into the big, bad world
– Set up a routine. Feed, potty, play with, and exercise your hound at the same time every day, if at all possible. By doing so, you’ll give your Beagle feelings of predictability and structure, both of which will boost his confidence.
– Let him set the pace. The undersocialized adult Beagle may be more hesitant than a puppy to check out new people or places. If your dog’s hesitation results in clear stress — tail between the legs, trying to hide — stop what you’re doing immediately. But don’t give up. Try again another day.
– Divert him. If your Beagle shows signs of stress over something you can’t immediately control, try some diversionary tactics. For example, if he’s stressing over loud construction noises in the next block, play with him or try some basic training to help him forget that he’s scared.
– Squelch the sweet-talk. When your Beagle cowers, trembles, or otherwise exhibits scaredy-dog behavior, you’ll probably want to cuddle him and sweetly tell him something like, “It’s okaaaaay huh-neee — Mommy’s here.” Don’t give in to that temptation. By doing so, you’re rewarding him for doing what you don’t want him to do.
Fighting the Fear Factor
Taming the monsters: Vacuum cleaners and blow-dryers
– Help your dog face his fear. I outline specific steps for teaching your Beagle to face new or scary situations in the “Tried and true de-spooking” sidebar that appears in this chapter. (Make just one adjustment: Instead of speaking to him, use a tasty treat to persuade him to deal with the situation.) The upside to this approach is that, if successful, your Beagle will gain confidence and be better able to cope with the unexpected. The downside is that you may need considerable time to implement this approach — and, if you’re like me, you just want to get the vacuuming done or your hair styled without having to play therapist to your beloved Beagle.
– Accept his issues. Put your dog in his crate when you wield either the blow-dryer or the vacuum cleaner. The advantage here is the simplicity and ease of this approach, plus the fact that your Beagle will quickly learn to associate his crate with being safe. The downside is that your dog will probably always be afraid of these two appliances — but heck, we all have our little foibles. There’s no reason why your Beagle shouldn’t have a few issues, as long as those issues don’t interfere with your well-being or his.
Learning to love car rides
– Desensitize him. Get your dog used to being in the car very gradually. Start by just sitting with him in the car for a minute or two, then work up to several minutes. When he’s able to tolerate sitting still in the car, try moving the car up and down your driveway — once. Gradually work into driving up and down your block, around the block, and through your neighborhood until he’s able to tolerate being in the car.
– Make it positive. If you don’t want your Beagle to freak out at being in the car, make sure that car trips take him to a pleasant destination most of the time: a park, a puppy friend’s house, or someplace else that’s fun. If your dog’s only car trips are to your vet, overcoming his aversion toward the car will be even more challenging.
– Talk to your vet. Most canine carsickness results from anxiety, not motion sickness, and your vet may be able to prescribe a mild sedative or other anti-anxiety medication for your car-phobic friend.
– Go for flower power. Some owners of car-hating dogs have found that flower essences can help ease their pooches’ fears. Some of these essences are formulated and combined specifically to help the scaredy-dog deal with life with more equanimity. An especially popular formula is Bach Flower Essences’ Rescue Remedy, which is a combination of more than a halfdozen floral essences. More information is available at www.bachflower.com.
Dealing with stairways and doorways
Tried and true de-spooking
Sometimes during walks a dog gets the willies totally unexpectedly and decides to deal with that fear in ways that aren’t convenient for you. My own dogs have gotten spooked over seeing paper skeletons dangling from trees at Halloween (gotta love those creative decorations); a sailboat parked on a suburban street; and a garbage can that’s rolled onto its side and is partially blocking the sidewalk — among other items. Their responses to these objects of fear have included running and pulling me out into the street and into the path of an oncoming car. They’ve also plunked themselves down in the middle of the sidewalk and become trembling — but otherwise immovable — objects. Either way, their methods of dealing with the unexpected haven’t been conducive to safe, much less pleasant, excursions.
However, you can capitalize on your Beagle’s trust in you to help him face his fear and literally get past whatever spooks him. Here’s what to do:
Your Beagle doesn’t have to learn to negotiate the entire staircase in a single session or even a single day. Break your Stairs 101 course into several sessions if your dog gets tired or distracted.
Until your dog has mastered the art of going down the staircase, keep him away from stairs. For extra protection, install a baby gate at the top of the stairs (see Chapter Preparing for Your Beagle’s Arrival for info on baby gates). An unexpected tumble down a flight of stairs can seriously injure your dog, not to mention undo all of your efforts to teach him how to negotiate the stairs.
Doorways are simply a matter of taking care. Go ahead of your Beagle when going through doorways, and take care that a door doesn’t slam in your little guy’s face.
by Susan McCullough