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Thread: Training an older dog

  1. #1

    Default Training an older dog

    Hi everyone,

    I am in need of a few tips for training an older dog. She's a beagle cross, about nine and half years old. I adopted her about a year ago and I know she had minimal socialisation throughout her life. Over the past year we've managed to get her into the the local dog park and she is quite confident now.

    The problems we are seeing now is that she appears to fixate on a particular dog and will not leave it alone. She gets right in its face and barks and barks and does not stop for the whole time that she or the other dog is in the park. I've tried grabbing her collar and telling her to sit but once she sees me approaching, she'll dart to the other side of the dog and continue. She doesn't respond to my voice commands either. If I do catch her, I can get her to sit for a minute to calm down and then she's off again to harrass the poor dog. She doesn't do this with most dogs, just a select few. I believe that she is trying to get the dog to run so she can chase (which is her number one favourite activity) but she ends out confusing it until it just stands there. She can interrupt ball games like this, too. Redirecting her to the number of other dogs in the park doesn't work. She just wants *that* one.

    I am not really sure how to approach this as she ignores me when she is fixated like that. I would also like her to come when called, which she usually knows how to do at home but at the park she doesn't want to so doesn't come. Does anyone have some advice? I don't really have a lot of dog training experience as she is my first dog that I have been responsible for (grown up with them though).


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    Does she do the barking when she is on the lead too? If she does, you could walk her over to the dog she wants to bark at and when she starts barking - or even when she starts showing signs of getting exited - you could just turn around and walk away. Then you could keep repeating the exercise and reward her for staying calm when you get close to the other dog.

    As for the recall, it takes lots of time and lots of practice in different situations to really get this totally down pat. I used to call my dog every few minutes when we went to the off leash area just to give her a treat when she came and then release her again. We did this hundreds of times, with and without distractions. I would sometimes call her if she was running up to another dog, give her a treat if she came immediately and then let her go greet the dog. Don't just call her at the off leash park when you want to put her on the leash or put her into a sit-stay. Call her just to reward her, then let her go again. Do this as often as you can. If she doesn't come when you call the first time - though I must admit I do usually call twice - stop calling and go get her and put her on the leash. When I do this, I usually call her a few seconds after I let her off the leash - as a test. If she comes, all is well, if she doesn't, she goes on the leash for longer, sometimes the rest of the walk. At first is it best to not call her when you want to put her on the lead and/or leave. Just walk up to her and grab her collar.

    But always praise her if she does come, even if it took ages. Obviously the praise won't be the same as when she comes immediately, mine usually gets a low-key "good" and maybe a quick pat. But never, ever get angry with her for coming to you, even if she took forever.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Hi Captain Delta and welcome to the forum

    When I first saw your name, I thought you had something to do with these dog trainers

    Welcome to Delta Society Australia

    But maybe you just need their help.

    Here's my suggestions.

    1. for recall - beagles can be a quite a challenge but it is possible. The main thing is to condition the recall, ie start at home and have uber treats for coming when called, call the dog with your special recall word only when you know it is coming already - and then reward with uber treat. Do this at home - low distractions at least 3 times a day, for around a month. Do not use your special recall word out in the park or when you know your dog won't come or you will break it (dog will learn it's ok to ignore it).

    Gradually up the distractions at home - eg try recalling with a ball going by, or kids running past or birds flying by, pay attention to what you know distracts her and test against those at home.

    There is a DVD called "really reliable recall" by Lesley Nielson - who explains it way better than I can. And if Afghan hounds can be trained to recall - so can Beagles. It's a matter of being patient and not breaking your recall word by repeating it or using it when the dog won't normally come - before it is fully conditioned - an automatic response like Pavlov's dog salivating when it heard the dinner (door) bell.

    For the barking - barking and chasing and being chased are all fun. So you have to stop the dog's fun or the dog will do this more and more - because it's fun (re-inforcing). Best way to do this, is to stop the fun starting, ie if you see the target dog or ball, put your dog on lead before she sees her fun and prevent the fun (barking etc) starting. I don't know why she choses dogs that don't want to play, but it's up to you to stop it.

    If she gets away and starts up this behaviour before you get a chance to put her on lead, then you have to go catch her and put her on lead. And you have to have something with you that is more fun than the object of her obsession. Maybe a ball on a string - with you attached to the string or an uber treat. I know roast chicken usually works on Beagles. Or bits of rabbit fur. Catch her, put her on lead, ask for something easy that she knows and can do when she's stressed, like look at you or this piece of delicious food you're holding and reward for that. Ie don't reward for being naughty, reward her for a bunch of other stuff you ask her to do after you catch her.

    A collar grab and release - will not help fix this problem. I suggest not letting her off around dogs or balls she gets obsessed with until you have the recall working better. And practice self control games. Eg like being able to hold a nice sit before you let her off lead, and being able to unclip the lead and have her hold the sit until you tell her it's ok to "play" or "sniff". Practice the stay in front of her dinner. Start with a stay of half a second and then give her permission to eat. And build up.

    And for my dog - teaching her a remote drop, ie I signal drop - you drop where you are and stay until I give you yummy treat... makes her much easier to catch.

    Collar grabs and going on lead - should be paired with yummy treats so she sees that as something to look forward to - not the end of her fun.

    Also practice putting her on lead and then releasing - anywhere anytime, the back yard, the park etc. Ie so that coming when called and going on lead is not directly and always connected to the end of her fun. Ie call her (don't use any important word), grab her collar, give a treat, and release to go play - often.
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 03-04-2012 at 10:44 PM.

  4. #4


    Thank you for your replies. She does bark on her lead and truely can't stand being on it when in the dog park so it makes perfect sense to use that as a teaching tool.

    We've started off all of your suggestions at home and hopefully we can start to get a handle on the problems soon. She definitely knows what she is being asked to do, it's the matter of her choosing not to.

    Thank you again.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    I think training is about getting the dog to a point where they won't even consider the other options anymore. My dog's recall has become pretty much a reflex to her. I called her the other day for the first time when there was a kangaroo very closeby and to my great joy she almost instinctively turned towards me when she heard the cue. I suppose it is straightforward conditioning, and it works if you stick to it and are consistent.

    I have never tried this with a dog that is the age of yours. I wish I had with my old dog though. I let her get away with unacceptable behaviour because I thought it was too late. But now I believe that dogs are very adaptable and can change if they are given an incentive.

    Good luck.

  6. #6


    Hi there,
    we have a 8 yr old beagle (adopted at age 5) and I can relate to much of your post.
    We have had dogs over the years however I have found Roscoe to be incredibly difficult to train compared to the others- well living up to the beagles reputaion for being "stubborn".
    I have had to lower my expectations and increase my vigilence. I know all dogs are trainable and it could well be a reflection on us- however its much more difficult compared to other dogs we have had. The leader of our dog club announced to our class that he felt sorry for us!

    He is not allowed off leash- ever. The recall is just not reliable enough if there is a fab scent or great game. If we are out of our property he is on leash at all times.
    I would not be letting your dog off leash if they do not have 100% perfect recall and is annoying other dogs at the park.

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