Beagle Aggression: A Comprehensive Guide

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Beagles are best known as chirpy and amicable dogs that get along with all kinds of animals as well as humans.

Being steady and even tempered, they are extremely amenable to training methods.

This is one breed that is wonderful as a family pet as it is perfect with children, and naturally adept at hunting. Simply put, there is nothing that a Beagle can’t do!

However, the Beagle personality is a bit of a paradox in some ways, with a whole gamut of seemingly contradictory character traits like beagle aggression. However, it all boils down to understanding his mindset, and once you do that, all seems logical!

To sum up, a Beagle dog is:
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  • Intelligent but tough to train:
    Because Beagles are bred to adapt to a single scent, they can be quite stubborn and single-minded, which makes training challenging. With that said, they are really smart and do not take much time to learn new tricks or respond to basic commands.
  • Good as watch dogs; bad as guard dogs:
    Beagles howl, bay and bark upon seeing strangers but they don’t usually attack them. The beagle temperament is much too friendly for a full-fledged attack.
  • Aloof but Lovable:
    A beagle may seem aloof at the first meeting but once he has grown used to a new person, he doesn’t hesitate to smother them with affection and warmth!
  • Obedient but Restless:
    Beagles generally respond well to positive reinforcements and react obediently to stringent training. However, they have a keen sense of smell, that tends to distract them every now and them. Once distracted, it’s not easy to restore their concentration and bring them to focus on the present scenario.
  • Great with Dogs but Bad with Other Animals:
    Beagles have an inherent dislike for other species but they do get along extremely well with their conspecifics. They love being part of a pack and socializing around, even with humans. Yet, non-canine companions are not welcome in their social group.
  • Athletic but Gentle:
    The ordinary beagle craves for exercise and fresh air. Because he belongs to the hunting breed, he has great stamina and is brimming with energy. However, he doesn’t demand exercises and outdoor activities as much as other dogs.
  • Yay to runs & Yay to food:
    The beagle loves to gorge on canine delicacies. He is one dog breed that yearns for food treats like no other. However, obesity is bad for his bones, heart and overall health. That is why it is important to exercise him regularly.
  • Neither Aggressive nor Timid:
    The ideal beagle is steady, even-tempered and stable. He is not likely to put up aggressive displays, until something is bothering him. He thrives on human affection and knows he has to behave well to get that. A well-trained, healthy beagle is confident about his place in the house.
  • Clever but Irritable:
    Beagles hate routines of any kind. If you subject your beagle to the same groom-eat-sleep-exercise schedule everyday, he’ll just get bored and end up slacking altogether. Moreover, they have the attention span of a humming bird. This creates problems during the initial training period.


Beagles were originally bred as hunting dogs. That is why, a wee bit of hunting instinct remains latent even in domesticated beagles.

Given the appropriate circumstances and triggers, this characteristic can eventually surmount into aggression. Aggression is an evident sign of dominance. A beagle that demonstrates aggressive behavior considers himself at the top of his home’s social hierarchy.

In the case when he is acting aggressively towards every family member, he is basically assuming himself to be the leader, or the “alpha-member” of the entire house.

While beagles are great as guard dogs, thanks in part, to their alert nature, they often growl and bark at guests during an aggressive display. That is why many owners are perturbed with their temperament and want to stop them from being so aggressive.


While a fraction of Beagle dogs do appear aggressive due to some underlying fear or insecurity, many of them are reactive due to an innate urge to dominate their surroundings.

Typical signs of aggression/dominant behavior include:
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  1. Toy Guarding: He won’t let you take away his toy.
  2. Furniture Guarding: He will refuse to get off the furniture despite you telling him to; or he may get agitated and start growling if you sit on it next to him. This he does to assert dominance over his territory.
  3. Snarling, growling, barking or snapping at you or when others come near when he’s eating.
  4. Demanding attention: Whining excessively, barking or pawing you repeatedly when you are busy on the phone, cooking or reading a book, are sure signs of aggression.


Mistreatment is an important cause of aggression in adult beagles.
Beagle puppies who are subjected to harsh conditions and rigorous training methods often grow up to be overly suspicious and reactive dogs that perceive every new person/animal or even a shadow as a potential danger.
Therefore, you should never yell or physically hurt them at the puppy stage of otherwise. Instead, use calm and confident methods to show that you are the alpha leader of your home. This will teach him to respect you.

Lack of Socializing:
Socializing is the key to raising a healthy and happy beagle.
The most vital thing you can probably do for your little beagle puppy is introducing him to others of his pack, as well as humans and good children. If you fail to do this, they will grow up as frightened, nervous adults who get defensive of new people and animals.
Needless to say, nervousness and fear are the most potent triggers of aggression.

Excessive Freedom:
Aggression is a vital issue and needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. While it’s perfectly fine to take care of an aggressive beagle and keep him well-fed, it’s bad to spoil him. Instead of allowing him to take liberties and coaxing him or praising him when he does so, you should be firm with him right from the time he starts demonstrating dominance.
If he is encouraged to bite or snap at will, he’ll just get more spoilt and reckless over time, and the consequences won’t be favorable for anyone.

Medical Ailments:
Occasionally, beagle aggression can stem from an underlying health issue. Long-standing aggressiveness that’s coupled with loss of hair, lethargy or overweight is a sure sign of hypothyroidism.
Alternatively, aggression that appears in concert with convulsions or rapid mood changes, may result from partial or full seizures. Damage to specific areas of the brain through disease, tumors or trauma may also cause aggressiveness.
It is essential to consult with a veterinarian to diagnose these conditions and avail medical treatment if necessary.

Beagle Territorial Aggression:
As mentioned before, beagles were bred as hunting dogs. That’s why they are extremely territorial in nature and can go to any extent to guard their space. This is especially true if they consider themselves to be the alpha-leader of the house.
If your beagle seems to bark or lunge from windows or his kennel, then he is most likely expressing territorial aggression.

Beagle Food Aggression:
While it’s natural to think that all cases of food aggression stem from an urge to dominate, that’s not the case always. In a pack of dogs, the alpha-members always eat first after a hunt. Afterwards the other dogs feed on the leftovers according to their rank in the pack’s social hierarchy.

When a beagle considers himself to be an alpha-leader, he shows food aggression out of a need to dominate.

However, an anxious beagle shows food aggression out of fear. This can be the case when you buy beagle puppies from a puppy mill that breeds dogs in conditions where they have no idea where their next meal will be coming from, or whether it will even come or not.
Such puppies have seen a lot of paucity in food. So it’s instinctual for them to show aggression during meal times.


Aggression in beagles is one of the two: either a nervous reaction to fear/insecurity, or an overwhelming urge to express dominance.

Whatever be the cause behind aggressiveness, the latter can be directed towards children, adults as well as other members of the kin.

Aggression Towards Children:
If you think your Beagle is demonstrating signs of aggression, ensure to keep the dog away from children. Without adult supervision, aggressive dogs get easily provoked to bite.
Young children may accidentally hit the dog while playing, hence it is important to teach them how to act around a dog.
Explain to the children that dogs hate being irritated and that they should be treated respectfully.

Aggression Towards Conspecifics:
Dominance and social hierarchy are important for dogs. You may not realize always, but your little Beagle puppy has already assumed the role of every family member in order to comprehend better who does what and why.

In nature, dogs resolve conflict by displaying dominance and aggressive behavior.

A dominant dog shows aggression to hold on to all the little benefits that he may get from it( such as more resources, access to a comfy seat, more treats, more attention and so on).

However, if the Beagle’s aggression is directed towards dogs that he has never interacted with before, then it is most likely due to a lack of socialization rather than dominance. That is why, socialization is so important at the puppy stage.
You should take him out often to meet new dogs and people. That way he’ll feel more at ease in social situations.

When a Beagle barks or growls at dogs from a familiar space like his home or backyard, then he is doing that to defend his space. This is territorial aggression. While there are plenty of ways to mitigate this issue, the best place to begin is obedience training.


In beagles, disobedience, when ignored, paves the way for aggression.

Therefore, training a Beagle to be obedient and humble at home is the first step to curtailing aggression towards people.

Here are four methods to apply for best results:
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  1. Rewarding Good Behavior:
    When your Beagle listens to you, don’t forget to reward him. Giving him a positive reinforcement for obeying you is a sound way to show him that he can get all the love, attention and resources he wants by simply behaving well. That itself will go a long way in setting the stage for a respectful Beagle.
  2. Correcting Bad Behavior: Make sure to correct but not punish your beagle for bad behavior. Punishment is never effective and can actually make things worse. You should instead firmly tell him to stop that unacceptable behavior and even show him what to do instead. For instance, if you catch him shredding off the sofa, say a firm “no” and encourage him to chew on a toy instead.
  3. Teaching New Tricks:
    Ensure to take a few minutes from your day to have a brief training session with your Beagle. This will improve his behavior to a great extent and also give you a wonderful opportunity to express dominance just like an alpha-leader should. Remember, when an alpha dog tells his pack how to behave and assigns them specific roles, he gets the respect and loyalty of his pack. So, your Beagle will begin to respect you as well.
  4. Training Classes:
    For novice dog owners, training classes are a great introduction to training. You can’t really expect to have the most respectful Beagle in the world by the end of these classes, but you can surely notice a marked improvement in his behavior. Dog training classes expose your Beagle to real-time social situations that help him socialize and teach him how to behave in public.
    Usually training classes just browse through basic obedience training that includes a couple of tricks like sit, run, stop and come. However, that’s usually enough to mellow down an aggressive Beagle.


Food bowl aggression is quite common among Beagles.

These dogs live in the present moment and hence don’t understand that there will be more food for them later.

This is especially true for high-value foods like red meat, chicken and juicy bones. So when you approach your Beagle’s bowl, he feels that is his one and only chance to defend his food and finish it off.

Thus what appears to be aggression is nothing but a natural defensive instinct that stems from the desire to survive.

Signs of Food-Based Aggression:
You’ll know your Beagle has food-based aggression if his body stiffens while eating.
Additionally, if he seems to keep his head much too low, then that means he’s using body language to protect the meal and keep it away from the view of intruders.

Other signs of food bowl aggression are lowered tail, raised hackles, visible whites of the eyes or arched ears. A beagle may show one or all of these signs.

Finally, signs that show severity of the issue are growling, biting and lunging at any person who walks by while he’s feeding.

Techniques to Curb Food Aggression

#1 – Hand Feeding:
Begin your dog’s meal by feeding him with your hand. Put food in his bowl with your hands.
This will lend your scent to the food. The main goal is to adapt your dog to eating with your hands close to his face, and also to have no aggressive action if you place your hands near the bowl while he’s feeding from it.

#2 – Tossing Treats:
Drop his favorite treats into his bowl while he is eating.
This way he’ll know that people approaching his bowl is a great thing and not a threat of any sort. You can also drop in treats to his bowl when he’s not eating. This programs his mind into thinking that people near his bowl is good.

#3 – Better Bargains:
When your Beagle is having his regular food in his food bowl, approach him from a safe distance with something more tasty, like a fresh chicken breast or a big, juicy bone.
The aim here is to get him to stop eating his food and approach you to take that treat. This teaches him plenty of things. One is that nobody will take his food if he is away from it and the other is that deviating attention from food when people approach leads to a reward.

In addition to the aforementioned techniques, make sure not to tempt your Beagle by taking away his food or teasing him. This will only serve to aggravate his aggression.


Possessive beagles are overly alert to the sights and sounds of nature. When they track a smell, they get totally disconnected from the world and when they land up with something that they perceive as precious, they reconnect instantly. While possessiveness is a necessary trait in a Beagle to ward off intruders, too of much it can result in blatant aggression.

Here is a short guide to help you handle possessive-aggression in your beagle:

Step #1
Determine the objects your beagle perceives as valuable. Most beagles are protective about their foods, juicy bones and toys. Then again, often a candy wrapper or a pair of stinky socks can spur them to display a bout of resource-aggression.

Step #2
Once you have determined his favorite possessions, arm yourself with treats similar to them. Small, soft treats are usually perceived as precious from a Beagle’s point of view. Now place those treats in a bag and hold a few in your hand when you’re ready to train.

Step #3
To start off, pick an item that he is less interested in protecting. Allow him to have that treat. A possessive beagle will usually take that object and run off to enjoy it peacefully.

Step #4
Determine a safe distance at which the beagle doesn’t perceive you as threatening. Before doing anything, watch out for signs of aggression in his body language and facial expressions. If he is tensing his muscles, flashing his teeth or growling, you know you’re too close and that the proximity is distressing him. This means you’ll have to stand way back of that imaginary line to begin with.

Step #5
Once you have established a safe distance, sit on a chair there. Now make soft, encouraging sounds to attract your beagle’s attention. When you manage to do so, toss a high-value treat on to his direction. Your beagle will then leave his possession to secure the treat and then run back to his possession. Repeat this continuously for a training session lasting anywhere from 5-15 minutes.

Step #6
Escalate the training session by standing rather than sitting on the chair. Ensure to walk past your beagle from a safe distance and then toss the treat only when you are at close proximity to him. This is to make him understand that good things happen when you are near and that once you have passed him by, these good things come to an end. You’ll know you’re making good progress when your beagle begins to look happily at you in the hope of a treat, instead of acting defensively. In scientific terms, such an exercise is called “counter-conditioning”.

Step #7
Make the challenges tougher as you progress in training. Reduce the distance at which you cross his path and increase the quantity and quality of the treats. Your dog will associate your closer proximity with a higher-value treat and will automatically learn to curb aggressive displays when you’re close to him.


-Establish Alpha-Leadership in your Home:
The first thing that you have to do is put your foot down and take control of your place. You need to set specific rules and limitations for your aggressive beagle puppy. You can do this by taking control of your space. A good idea would be to keep him off the sofa; You don’t want him to be at your level, otherwise he’ll start assuming he has the same social position as you.
Secondly, set specific meal times. With set times and specific food portions, he won’t develop aggression over food.

-Keep a Check on Your Behavior:
It is extremely essential to stay calm and confident around an aggressive little beagle. This is because this particular dog breed is very quick to sense your mood. If he sees you scared or nervous, your alpha leader status will be jeopardized. After all, the leader is always the calm and composed one. Moreover, when you put a confident stance in his presence, he’ll get to trust you and perceive you as his strong protector. This will not only lessen the chances of aggression but also strengthen the trust between you two.

-Use Social Isolation:
That fact that Beagles are crazy for love and affection can be easily used to keep a check on their aggression. Whenever he behaves in an unacceptable manner, simply turn your back at him and leave him alone for the entire day. This method of social isolation is commonly used by the alpha-leader of a dog’s pack. Hence, the message that you’re upset gets relayed to your Beagle in an effective manner.

-Consider Neutering:
Neutering a Beagle puppy is a proven way of reducing aggression. This is because testosterone is the prime hormone triggering aggression, and by neutering your beagle, you’re eliminating his urge to act aggressively. However, this won’t cure him of aggression totally, and you’ll still need to ensure that he considers you the alpha.

-Do not Respond to Beagle Agression with Aggression of Your Own:
After a bout of snarling and growling, do not yell, beat or humiliate him. Even if you face a beagle attack, don’t flare up. Remember, your main objective is to be seen as the alpha-leader, and a strong alpha doesn’t resort to aggression to reinforce his status in a pack. Additionally, such a destructive behavior will only show him that you yourself are unpredictable. Needless to say, this will simply destroy the bond that you both share.

-Socialize Your Beagle Puppy:
Aggression is first noticeable in a beagle puppy at 6 weeks of age. This is also the time when they should be socialized. Socialized should be continued till they reach 14 weeks of age and during this period, they should be kept away from naughty children and sharp objects. Have friends and relatives come over and ensure that your Beagle gets familiar with them. Also, make sure that you behave well with these people. When your Beagle sees a positive reaction from you towards other people, he tends to mirror that attitude and behaves likewise.

-Respect Your Beagle’s Territory:
Beagles can be fiercely possessive, especially when it comes to their space or food. The only way to stop this behavior is by giving him his own space that’s distinctly separate from others. Once you have established an alpha status, your Beagle won’t attack you when your take away his toys or food. However, he might still demonstrate aggression if other people do the same. So to prevent this, you have to start respecting his property from an early stage. Beagles are specifically aggressive while eating, and they may react towards people passing by while they’re eating. Thus, it is important to ensure that you give him a place of his own where he can eat, sleep and play in peace.


Aggression is not the only troublesome trait in a Beagle. In spite of being a pleasant dog breed, they are quite prone to showing extremes of behavior. Here’s a quick rundown of some common Beagle issues:
Fondness for Digging

A love for digging is ingrained deep in the psyche of a Beagle. This can create a lot of problems for people who invest a great deal of time and energy in landscaping. After all, nothing looks worse on a freshly manicured lawn than holes and dug-up dirt. One way to curtail this habit is by changing fertilizers or stopping their usage altogether. Often, the distinct scent of fertilizers can spur Beagles to dig up the soil further in order to get a stronger whiff.

The biggest of Beagle problems is their love for barking. Beagles bark for many reasons, like when they need to alert their masters, find a trail or sense predators on the prowl.

The best way to stop relentless barking is by training your Beagle to bark only in specific situations.

Beagle whining Due to Separation Anxiety
All dogs are susceptible to separation anxiety, and the Beagle is no different. This is particularly true for those who have been through traumatic upheaval like abandonment, neglect or a change in ownership. Separation anxiety arises in a Beagle because he can’t tell whether you’ll come back when you leave him.

Typical symptoms of separation anxiety are:

-Whining, crying and trembling

-Inappropriate defecation or urination

-Excess salivation, like if you see puddles of saliva on the floor when you return

-Destructive behavior is typical of an anxious, lonely or bored dog, like chewing, consistent barking, digging and self-harm (for instance, pulling out fur, excessively licking the skin, or scratching raw spots on the coat).

To prevent separation anxiety, give him time to familiarize himself with your routine. When you’re at home, maintain distance from him. This will make him independent. When you leave him alone, put a lot of toys and treats around to keep him busy.

Having a Beagle puppy that bites is certainly not a nice thing. You may see Beagle bites as harmless but there is more to it. If your beagle puppy bites a lot, consider training him well because if left uncontrolled, this behavior can get worse with age.

How to Stop a Beagle Puppy from Biting

The best time to prevent beagle biting is at the puppy stage. Whenever your Beagle puppy bites you, make a whining noise and pull away. Also give him a chewing toy while removing your hand. If he still doesn’t refrain from biting, give him a very gentle pinch on the neck.

How to Stop Beagle Puppy Biting at One Year
A Beagle puppy that is allowed to bite grows up thinking he is the alpha-leader of the house. You can implement the following methods if he continues to bite at one year:

-Refrain from playing games that encourage biting like play fighting, pawing and tug-of-war.
-Don’t let him share your bed. For you, it may be a sign of affection and love, but for him it’s suggestive of the fact that he’s your equal. Introduce crate training at an early stage to let him know you’re the alpha-leader.

-Enroll your Beagle to obedience training classes that focus specifically on biting.

And if your Beagle puppy continues to bite even after following these methods, consider bringing in a trainer to address the issue from a more effective approach.


Beagle Aggression is a serious issue. However, know that this behavior is not his fault and if you show him to channelize all that aggression and excess energy in the right direction, you’ll get the pleasure of owning a Beagle that’s alert not aggressive, obedient not timid and most importantly at his natural best.


Passionate lover of dogs and proud owner of a friendly, mischievous and energetic golden retriever named Beethoven! I’m incredibly excited to share my experiences on how best to care for your beloved pet. The more we know, the happier we and our canine friends will be!

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