Beginning a Beautiful Friendship

Love Dog
In This Chapter
  • 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

The biggest reason to get a Beagle — or, for that matter, any dog — is to build an attachment to him that enhances both your life and his. Why else would you agree to clean up Beagle poop, risk damage to your furniture, and experience the dubious pleasures of hound dog concerts? Simple. You want to have a loyal friend who worships the ground you walk on, and lets you know he worships you every time he looks up at you adoringly with those big, soulful eyes of his.

But this attachment doesn’t develop automatically. Bonding with your Beagle results only when you commit yourself to spending time with him and teaching him what he needs to know to be a happy household member. Doing both tasks with a generosity of heart and spirit will sooner or later (hopefully, sooner) result in your falling in love with each other.

Jump-starting the bonding process

Your Beagle is relatively independent, as dogs go. But he’s also a social creature. He loves being with people. He has his own ideas about what he wants to do — but chances are whatever he wants to do doesn’t call for solitude. He wants a partner in crime, or at least an audience.
And although the Beagle may be an independent, even stubborn individual, he can’t get along without you. He needs you. You provide the food, water, and shelter that he requires to survive. You can take advantage of this dependence to bind him to you — and, in the process, you’ll find that you’re also binding yourself to him. When the love flows both ways, the real joy of Beagle ownership begins.
Need some ideas on how to jump-start the bonding process? Start with these:

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.

Tip

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.

Investing this time with your Beagle now can jump-start a beautiful friendship between the two of you. Take the time and make the commitment now, and the rewards will be sweet later on. When you’re ready to take the bonding process even further, check out Chapter Getting Physical: Exercising Your Beaglefor more fun activities to do with your pooch.

Getting a new leash (and collar) on life

When your Beagle’s not on leash, let him run around without his collar. But when he needs to be leashed for any reason, he needs that little nylon or leather ring around his neck.
Ideally, your Beagle will become joyful the minute he sees you pick up his collar and leash because he’ll know that means you and he are going for a walk. However, some Beagles — especially puppies — may initially balk at having to be leashed or otherwise restricted. For these freedom-loving Fidos, you’ll both have an easier time if you slowly introduce the leash and collar. Here’s a game plan:

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

Within a day or two of arriving home with your new dog, you need to take him for his first visit to the veterinarian you’ve selected. (If you haven’t found a vet yet, please read Chapter Preparing for Your Beagle’s Arrival for guidelines on finding a qualified doggy doctor.) The visit allows you and your Beagle to get acquainted with a person who will play a key role in keeping your dog healthy. In addition, the exam allows your vet to learn more about your dog’s inner workings — knowledge that will be crucial during future visits. Finally, the exam may uncover hidden health problems plaguing your new dog, problems that you can start solving immediately.

Tip

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.

In addition to examining your Beagle’s health records and analyzing the stool sample, the vet will also weigh him; measure his vital signs; check his skin for lumps, bumps, rashes, parasites, and signs of infection; look inside his ears for signs of parasites and infection; peer into his eyes for signs of abnormalities; check his genitals for correct formation and absence of any discharge; and look at his gums and teeth to make sure they’re healthy and properly formed. The vet also will use a stethoscope to listen to your dog’s heart and lungs, and will gently feel around the dog’s abdomen to make sure everything’s as it should be.
After the vet examines your Beagle, she may give him one or more immunizations, depending on your four-legged friend’s age and health status. Those shots may include:

– 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.

Tip

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.

If your dog’s stool sample reveals the presence of parasites, your vet will also give you some medicine to rid him of all such freeloaders. (Chapter Dealing with Health Issues has advice on how to get meds into your dog.) These unwelcome minicritters include roundworms (very common in puppies), hookworms, whipworms, coccidia, and tapeworms. Because these little beasties can sap your dog’s energy and health, they need to be banished. Your vet also may suggest that you give your dog medications to combat other parasites, such as fleas and heartworms.

Warning!

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.

If necessary, your vet will talk to you about arranging to have your puppy or dog spayed or neutered. Your contract with the animal shelter, rescue group, or breeder may require you to have this procedure performed on your four-legged friend, if it hasn’t been done already. Most vets opt to do the surgery on puppies when they’re about 6 months old, although some veterinarians do so earlier. Spaying or neutering adult dogs can occur just about any time, except when a female is in heat (a three-week period during which she has a bloody discharge from her vagina and can mate with a male dog). More about spaying and neutering — pro’s and con’s — appears in Chapter Dealing with Health Issues.

Starting Daily Routines

Nothing will give your new Beagle a feeling of comfort and safety faster than a consistent daily routine.

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.

Tip

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

The number of trips your Beagle needs to his outdoor potty depends on his age. The baby Beagle may need to take a whiz as often as once every hour or so, not to mention one or two bathroom breaks during the night. Take heart: When he hits the magic 4-month mark, he’ll be able to hold his water and other stuff a little longer. Going out before and after mealtimes, after naps, and after strenuous play should be enough to keep him (and you) content.
And (joy!) nocturnal potty breaks should be a thing of the past. After 6 months of age, potty breaks should occur first thing in the morning, midday, dinnertime, and just before bedtime — a pattern that should continue throughout the rest of your Beagle’s life. Chapters Welcoming Your Beagle Home and 14 deal with teaching your Beagle where and when to do his doo-ty.

Playing around

You can pretty much play with your pooch whenever you want, although giving him a predictable schedule can help him adjust faster to life in your household. For what it’s worth, I take my own dog to a field every morning to play fetch for about 15 minutes. This daily session helps her work off excess energy and keeps her mellow for the rest of the day.
Your Beagle may not need to run around in a field, but a 10- to 15-minute play session morning and evening can keep him happy and content. Make sure, though, that those play sessions don’t occur immediately after meals (vigorous activity could cause indigestion or worse) or just before bedtime (because he’ll have a hard time settling down to sleep).

Setting snoozing cycles

Your Snoopy-dog will probably set his own snoozing cycles, but you can help him along a bit. Certainly he should sleep at night when you sleep, and he’ll probably want to do some sleeping during the day, especially during puppyhood. If you want to set nap times for when you’re busy and can’t watch him, place him in his crate, turn on some soft music, and watch him head to Dreamland.

 Glamming it up

Unlike other breeds, the Beagle doesn’t need a whole lot of grooming. A weekly brushing, pedicure, and ear cleaning and a monthly bath should pretty much do the trick. The lowdown on how to beautify your Beagle appears in Chapter Sprucing Up Your Beagle.

Socializing Your Beagle

A crucial component of helping your Beagle settle in — not to mention becoming and staying emotionally healthy throughout his life — is the process of socializing him. This process means that you do everything you can to enrich your dog’s social life. That means not keeping him confined to the four walls of your home, but rather getting him out and about safely.
By exposing your Beagle to new people and places, you help him learn to deal with the unexpected with poise and confidence. The well-socialized Beagle can handle most new situations without getting bent out of shape. Visiting other people’s houses, dealing with crowds, and welcoming visitors to his own home don’t faze him in the least. By contrast, the unsocialized Beagle is more likely to be fearful or even aggressive, simply because he doesn’t know how to cope with new experiences.

Exploring the home front and beyond

If your new Beagle is a puppy, the breeder should have started socializing him before you brought him home. However, you need to continue the process. Here are some activities you can do with your dog, whether he’s a puppy or adult, to help him become the social butterfly he’s meant to be:

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.

Warning!

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

Not every Beagle has the good fortune to be socialized during puppyhood — and if you have a grown-up fraidy-dog, you need to help him catch up. Introduce him to the people, places, and experiences that he should have encountered while he was a little guy. Some tips for socializing an adult Beagle include:

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

The typical Beagle is an intrepid little pooch; not much fazes him. Still, even the most laid-back dog may find that he’s got issues that he didn’t know about until he’s confronted with something big, noisy, or just plain new. But your Beagle should have nothing to worry about as long as you’re by his side. You can help him maintain his confidence by showing him how to deal with the unexpected with poise and aplomb.

Taming the monsters: Vacuum cleaners and blow-dryers

Cleaning dust from your house is a necessity — and when your Beagle arrives, you’ll need to clean up Beagle hair, too (unfortunately, Beagles do shed). For these and other domestic tasks, you undoubtedly make good use of a vacuum cleaner. Your little hound (or, for that matter, any dog), may not appreciate the vacuum cleaner’s virtues. In fact, its loud noise and giant sucking sound may positively spook him. He may run and hide, bark fearfully and frantically, or show other signs of stress.
For many of us, another noisy appliance is almost as necessary as a vacuum cleaner. The blow-dryer helps many of us tame our tresses into highly styled coiffures that give us at least the illusion that we are beautiful. However, your Beagle may object to the noise emitted from this contraption. His objections may be similar to those he registers when confronted with the vacuum cleaner.
In either case, you can take one of two approaches to help your Beagle cope with these noisy monsters:

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

Some Beagles love car rides. Others, however, are less than thrilled with automotive travel and demonstrate their displeasure by trembling, howling, or even vomiting while they go mobile. You could, of course, allow your Beagle to be a perpetual stay-at-home dog. But his life and yours will go a lot easier if he learns to love, or at least tolerate, being in the car. To help change your car-hating Beagle’s mind, try some of these tips:

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.

Check out Chapter Traveling (or Not) with Your Beagle for tips on keeping your Beagle safe in the car, including using a doggy seat belt.

Dealing with stairways and doorways

Doorways and stairways are no big deal to you; you probably negotiate each without even thinking about it. But for your Beagle or any other small dog, doors and stairs may be quite another matter. Your puppy probably has never encountered a set of steps before and may never have had the opportunity to deal with a doorway. He needs your assistance to help him cope with both.
To help a stair-shy Beagle deal with stairs, the one-step-at-a-time principle is worth following:
1. Sit at the bottom of the staircase and put your little guy on the bottom step next to you.
2. Put a treat or interesting toy on the floor and let him hop down to reach it.
3. When he’s comfortable negotiating one step, move up one so he needs to clamber down two.
4. Keep adding steps until he’s going down the stairs with ease.

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:

Get between your dog and the object. If your Snoopy-dog suddenly stops or changes direction, check to see what’s bothering him, and then position yourself etween him and whatever’s causing him to spook.

Start moving slowly. Keeping yourself between your dog and the object, turn and face him. Then, take one or two steps backward (which will be forward for him).

_ Coax him along. In a high, happy tone of voice, coax your little guy to come along with you. Tell him what a brave boy he is. Make sure you keep yourself between your dog and the object.

Check it out. If your dog responds to your entreaties, see if you can get him to be even braver. Suggest that the two of you check out the feared object. In an excited voice, tell him, “Hey Bowser, let’s check this out! Look at that garbage can! Isn’t it funny looking?” If you’re close enough, pat the object and otherwise investigate it. Chances are, your Beagle will do the same.

Move on. If your Beagle continues to balk, don’t push the investigation; just keep walking slowly, remaining between him and the object, and commend him for his courage. If he does investigate, praise him lavishly, and then resume your walk. Either way, you’re likely to see that your pooch has recovered his composure quite nicely, thank you.

Tip

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.

Warning!

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.

If your dog does take a tumble, examine him carefully. The pup who picks himself up and goes on about his business is probably OK, but keep a close eye on him for a day or two. However, if your dog limps, cries when touched, or otherwise shows any sign of discomfort, call your vet immediately.
Reverse the process to teach your dog to go up the stairs — although, generally, going down stairs is more of a challenge for most small dogs than going up.

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

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