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Beagle Adolescence

I'll just bet you thought, "Hey, when they don't look like tiny cute puppies anymore then they must be mature."

WRONG! Beagles tend to keep their puppy-like tendencies well into their "adult" life. Most think when puppies  reach 1 year of age they are mature dogs. Maybe in physical appearance, but mentally a 12 month old is far from mature.

A beagle pup tends to develop a long and lanky physique between 4 and 8 months old. They may be as clumsy as they were at 8 weeks old, as their lanky puppy legs seem too long for their bodies.

Here are Ruger and Tuff at 16 weeks of age. Note how they have grown! Also notice their markings have changed a little. The black on their faces is giving way to more and more brown all the time.
I would consider early adolescence between 4 and 6 months of age, and late adolescence from 1 to 3 years. Seems like a big gap, but some dogs do mature more quickly than others, just like people.

Between 4 and 6 months your loving pup may decide suddenly that they want to be the alpha member (top dog) of the household. They may challenge you, and these challenges must not be lost. Remember, it is a "dog eat dog" world out there, and you must remain top dog.

How does your dog challenge you?
   Growling (non playfully) when you attempt to remove something from his possession
   Not listening to commands you know he has learned (such as NO, Drop it, etc.) And possibly letting you know of his discontent by growling or biting
Now you know you have been challenged, what do you do?
First, if you have never owned a dog before contact a professional immediately. Not to alarm, but most behavior problems occur during this stage of life and must be corrected now to prevent future (MAJOR) problems.
If you understand what is happening immediately put the dog in a submissive position to establish your dominance. This is most easily achieved by grabbing the "scruff" of the back of the neck and forcing the dog into a submissive position (On the ground or on his back) And hold the dog there until he stops squirming (30 seconds to 3 minutes) If you are not comfortable with this technique contact a professional immediately. These behavior problems will not resolve spontaneously, and they will most likely get worse.

If the dog is biting first contact a professional (Preferably a behaviorist) and second contact the breeder. If the dog is truly aggressive they will want to know, and they may be more knowledgeable about correcting the problem than anyone!

Beagles are not known for aggressive tendencies, but LIKE ALL BREEDS OF DOGS if an opportunity arises that they may become leaders of the pack, THEY WILL!

Remember, these are their "teenager" times, and you must be there for them when they need you, and you must stand back to let them be independent as well.

It is during this time of early adolescence you will notice your pup will suddenly develop a preference for a  favorite toy. They may not want to play with you all the time, but may start to actually play with toys by themselves and may prefer to be alone at times to chew on the toy or prance around the house with it.

Do not be offended, your pup still needs you, but they also need to learn to be confident without you. When they decide they want a quiet moment alone let them be alone. Don't allow small children to invade their crate, the crate should be the pup's place of solitude and a place to relax undisturbed.

You can start to gradually leave the pup in his crate for longer periods of time. A four month old can stay alone (in his crate or kennel) for 4 hours. A six month old can stay for about 4 1/2 hours, and an eight month old should be OK for 5 hours alone. These are just estimates, some dogs can stay alone (and "hold it" for longer periods of time) and some may not be able to be alone that long. These are just estimates, but I have checked with other doggy people and they seem to agree.

This means if you work for 8 to 10 hours a day your pup still needs some human contact and to go "outside" for a potty break during the day.
Now is the time to use that pet sitter you researched before you brought your pup home! Some areas even have doggy daycare, where you pet receives as much (and maybe more) attention than most human children in daycare.

The best option would be to walk the pup on your lunch hour or take your pup to work if that is allowed. I didn't ask at my job if I could bring my pups, I just started doing it. I haven't had any complaints, and they haven't fired me, so I guess it is OK! (However, I try to stay on the boss's good side by never leaving for lunch and I take only 2 five minute breaks my entire day to take my guys outside for a potty.) So far so good. Ask your boss, the worst they can say is no.

As far as diet, pups at this stage eat a lot! Almost double what they will eat as adults. It is during this age that I switch my pups from puppy food to the adult formula. This may seem young to some, but puppy food has additional fat and calories that my couch potato pups simply don't need.

This is also the time (about 6 months) that the pups get neutered or spayed. I am not a breeder, nor do I want the responsibilities of caring for the mother, dealing with the behavior of a stud dog, or caring for a litter of pups. Also having a dog "fixed" you eliminate the chances of your dog getting many forms of cancers and health problems associated with intact dogs. For example, a dog can't get testicular or cancer of the uterus if they lack them!

From 8 to 12 months you will notice a big change in your pup. They are no longer afraid to perform such feats as walking up those scary steps or jumping from the loveseat to the couch. They seem bolder, braver, and more confident. This is good, you want a well adjusted pup, but this is also the time when pups get into trouble. Use discretion, and correct the pup for behaviors you do not want. What is cute when they are a pup will not be cute when the are adults!

This youngster is proud of his puppy, and he should be! She is a great pup!

As the pup progresses into later stages of Adolescence (1 to 3 years) Most will begin their careers. Hunting dogs are starting to work in the field at this age. Show dogs will have graduated their puppy classes and will be busy earning their titles and championships. And "working" dogs like the Beagle Brigade are keeping our country safe from the transport of agricultural products that may spread infectious diseases or plaguing insects from our crops.

So what will your beagle be doing?
Chances are my guys will be "defending" our home from the mail man, meter reader, oil delivery truck, or UPS man. They will howl ferociously, then smother the intruder with kisses. Or they will be keeping my couch warm for me, and keeping all those dog biscuit crumbs neatly licked up. And on their ornery days they will be digging up neat things from the yard or garden, like that glove I lost last year (or they stole from my workbench!) Or  munching on tasty grubs or other unidentifiable items from the dirt.

No matter what they are doing, I make sure they are happy. They, in return, will always manage to bring a smile to my face.

Here is a picture of Jake, to whom this web site is dedicated, at 13 months of age. He was the first beagle I have ever owned, and he won my heart over to the breed. He is surely missed!

Enjoy your pup while they are young! The time of puppyhood and adolescence flies by. Before you know it a mature 2 to 4 year old stands before you! Now it is time to go on to the mature beagle.