Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and author
of the online dog training course “Brain Training for Dogs.”
By better understanding Beagle puppies, it is possible to overcome several
potty training difficulties and help these pups succeed.
The Challenges of Potty Training Beagles
Many dog owners ask me for tips on how to potty train a Beagle puppy. One main
reason that explains why this is sought-after information boils down to the
fact that beagle puppies have a bad rep for being difficult to potty train.
But why is that?
In order to better understand this, it helps to take a closer look at what
Beagles are and how their genetic makeup has made them the wonderful and
fascinating creatures that they are.
If you have chosen a Beagle as a companion, you were most likely attracted to
this breed’s looks, and hopefully, its temperament, too. Beagles are not the
easiest dogs to own. On top of being adorable, they have a strong desire to be
with their families, they are curious, lively, determined (one-track mind),
and have lots of energy.
Beagles aren’t reliable off-leash and need securely fenced yards to keep them
out of trouble to prevent them from escaping. They are not the easiest dogs to
train and teaching a hound to come when called can be challenging, unless you
know how to use strong incentives to your advantage.
And when it comes to potty training, they can pose some challenges, but the
first major hurdles can be overcome by getting inside the Beagle’s mind and
using some strategies.
In this article, I will be covering topics like:
- How the Beagle’s body impacts the potty training process
- Dealing with messes, including a cleaning product that owners should have (and a product to avoid)
- A tool that will turn you into the best pee detective on the planet
- How to choose the best enclosure for your Beagle puppy
- Peak times to take your puppy out to potty
- The power of praise coupled with reinforcement
Getting Inside a Beagle’s Body and Mind
Knowing Beagles Inside and Out
A Beagle’s bad rep in the potty training department stems from the Beagle’s
almighty nose. This happy-go-lucky dog breed is a scent hound, and as scent
hounds, Beagles often get nicknamed “noses on four legs.”
On top of having powerful noses, scent hounds are smart, determined, and
independent dogs because they have a history of being selectively bred to work
in groups at a distance from their hunters. Their main job in the past was to
follow a “hot trail” that brought their hunters towards rabbits. Let’s take a
closer look into what makes Beagles so special so to better understand them.
A Fascinating Body Crafted for the Hunt
All the body of the Beagle was crafted for the purpose of hunting. Beagle
coats are purposely designed to insulate them from cold weather and heavy
brush. Their throats are meant to produce a loud sound (which by the way, is
called baying) for the purpose of informing the hunters when they were after a
scent. Their fairly long muzzles and open nostrils are meant to help gather
scent. Their long ears, when dragged upon the ground, are meant to stir up a
blend of smells ready to reach the nose and then brain for personal
Even the white tip of their tails (called “flag”) is there for a reason: It is
meant to help hunters keep track of a Beagle’s whereabouts when they are
merrily romping among the tall brush.
With this in mind, Beagles and scent hounds in general may pose some
challenges in the potty training department due to their powerful noses (we
will see why, a couple of paragraphs down). Indeed, along with the Bloodhound
and Basset Hound, the Beagle has one of the best-developed senses of smell of
any dog, says Bruce Fogle in the popular book The Dog’s Mind.
While the fact that Beagles have a superior sense of smell cannot be denied,
there are several “life hacks” that can be handy for owners of many Beagle
puppies out there.
Scroll to Continue
Read More From Pethelpful
Why Does My Cat Sit on My Stuff?
Tips for Home Care for Your Vomiting Cat When You Cannot Visit the Vet
The Top 10 Fastest Dog Breeds
Beagles are sensitive dogs. Use gentle training methods with them.
The Power of Enzymes
One important product that is a must-have for Beagle owners is an enzyme-based
cleaner. One of my favorites, that I often suggest to my clients is Nature’s
Miracle. What’s so special about enzyme-based cleaners? Let’s first take a
step back and look at how dogs perceive previously soiled areas that are
improperly cleaned. This will help us comprehend why enzyme-based cleaners are
the go-to products for puppy owners, especially Beagle owners.
Scent Is a Dog’s Toilet Sign
So let’s go back again to a Beagle’s powerful, almighty nose. These powerful
Beagle noses (and dogs in general to a certain extent) are known to interfere
with the potty training process because they are capable of detecting previous
messes (if not properly cleaned up) which can lead to a vicious cycle of more
messes due to a dog’s tendency to soil over already soiled areas.
Why do dogs do that? It almost seems like dogs enjoy making the same mistakes
over and over again, but that’s just from our perspective. Things don’t work
that way in a dog’s mind.
Because dogs’ minds are governed by their noses, those traces of pee and poop
smell left behind just inform dogs that those are their potty areas. It’s as
if the scent left behind says “this is your bathroom” in a similar fashion as
us humans follow those universal bathroom signs found scattered almost in
every public place, explains Patricia McConnell in her book Way to Go!: How
to Housetrain a Dog of Any Age.
Now, when you use an enzyme-based cleaner, like Nature’s Miracle, every time
you are cleaning up messes, you are breaking down and destroying odor, rather
than masking it as other cleaning products may do.
A Problematic Product to Avoid
Speaking about cleaning products to clean up messes, there is one product you
want to avoid like the plague when potty training puppies, especially Beagles.
That product is, drumroll please… ammonia. What’s the problem with it? The
main problem with ammonia is the fact that it smells like pee. The last thing
you want for your carpet, upholstery, or floor is to smell like a double-
whammy of pee.
Turn Into a Pee-Detective With This Tool
A tool that you may want to keep in your potty training arsenal is a black
light. Also known as a UV-A light, Wood’s lamp, or simply ultraviolet light, a
black light will be your best ally in detecting soiled areas that you may have
missed, which your Beagle likely knows about like the back of their hands, ehm
. . . paws.
Simply turn on the black light and go onto a nightly pee-detecting mission.
With this tool, urine in a darkened room will glow bright white. The areas
cannot be missed as they light up like a Christmas tree.
You’d be surprised about how many pee areas you may have missed. Now, with
this knowledge in mind, you can roll up your sleeves and clean up these areas
with your enzyme-based cleaner.
Setting Your Beagle Puppy Up for Success
If you got your Beagle puppy from a reputable breeder, hopefully they already
introduced your puppy to the ABCs of potty training by creating an area where
to eat/drink, play, sleep and an area designated specifically for the pups to
pee and poop. This should give your puppy a head start. Hopefully, he/she also
introduced the pups to a crate, which is a big plus.
Don’t just sit back and relax upon bringing your pup home: you can start potty
training your Beagle puppy from the get-go, which means from the very first
day they are in their new home. If you haven’t brought your Beagle pup home
yet, you will therefore have some advance homework to do before opening your
heart and home to your Beagle pup.
You therefore want a good enzyme cleaner, a black light before then, along
with other essentials such as a crate, a leash, and some tasty treats.
Choose the Right Crate
Many new puppy owners make the mistake of buying a crate that is too large
thinking there’s more freedom for the pup to move around, but this can be a
costly mistake. You see, when the breeder dedicated an area for the puppy to
pee/poop and an area to sleep, eat, drink, and play, he or she was introducing
the puppy to the basic concept of using a crate or other enclosure for potty
This practice relies on a puppy’s instincts—reminiscent of the days when pups
were raised in the wild in maternity dens, special underground burrows that
kept mother and pups out of harm’s way. Initially, when the pups are helpless,
mother dogs instinctively ingest their waste so that its smell will not
attract predators and to maintain hygiene.
Then, later on, the pups start using less and less of the den (other than for
sleeping), and instead, start using special rendezvous areas which are similar
to open-air kindergartens. Constantly peeing and pooping in the place in their
snug dens would have been maladaptive.
Pups, therefore, should instinctively not soil their sleeping areas, and
therefore, should try their best to avoid soiling in the crate (as long as
they aren’t kept there for too long!).
To help pups retain this instinct, it helps to choose a crate that is not too
big, as this may cause the pup to comfortably sleep in one corner and pee/poop
in the opposite one. Instead, a crate should be snug enough so that the pup
will instinctively try to hold it (so as to not soil their sleeping area), but
not so snug that the puppy cannot stand up, lie down stretch out or turn
around. When in doubt, ask an educated store clerk to help you out.
Tip: Create positive associations with the crate! Feed treats in there,
provide safe chew toys, make it extra comfy, and never use it for punishment
or to park your puppy there for extended periods of time. During the first
days, keep your pup in the crate in the bedroom next to you to help them
Enclosures for Long Absences
If you must leave the home for long hours or you are busy and will, therefore,
have to potty train your puppy while working full-time, a crate will not work
as it will force your puppy to go against instinct and eliminate right in
there, making a mess to clean up.
For these cases, you are better off using a larger containment area (like an
x-pen), with one area with your puppy’s water bowl, food bowl, sleeping area,
and safe chew toys and one opposite area purposely for going potty (puppy pee
pads or a doggy litter box). Ideally, to prevent confusion, pick a surface for
your puppy to pee and poop on that somewhat mimics where your pup needs to go
when outside. Nowadays, there are litter boxes lined with what looks and feels
like grass which can be extra helpful.
Alternatively, you can use a small puppy-safe room with a washable floor like
a tiled bathroom or laundry room lined up with puppy pee pads or equipped with
a litter box. These are used only initially when your puppy is very young and
has little bladder and bowel control. As your puppy matures and can hold it
longer, it will be possible to only use the crate.
Frequent Trips Outdoors
Prepare yourself for some busy times ahead as puppies are like babies, only
that they do not wear diapers. If you got your Beagle puppy at 8 weeks, you
will have to take your puppy out to potty as often as hourly when he is
There are peak times when puppies are more likely to need to go out and those
times are after eating or drinking, after waking up from a nap and after
playing. Learning how to recognize signs your puppy has to go potty will help
you in the process.
When you go outdoors, you may be better off keeping them on leash as your
Beagle’s nose might distract them, causing them to get off-track and then
remember the need to go potty only once they’re back inside, coincidentally
always soiling that favorite rug.
Reward With Tasty Treats
Beagles offer a great advantage when it comes to potty training: they are
highly food motivated. When you take your puppy outside to potty, make sure to
carry some treats in your pocket.
Walk your puppy always to the same area that you have designated for going
potty. Keeping your Beagle puppy on leash prevents your puppy from straying
away to distant odors and allows them to be there, right within reach, so that
you can readily praise and reward them with a tasty treat the moment they have
finished going potty.
Once your puppy has gone potty, you can allow your puppy to explore the yard
and then have some supervised freedom time indoors in an area where you have a
plain view and can watch your puppy carefully, before it’s time to take them
out again, crate them again or place them in their long-term enclosure.
If you ever find a mess or catch your puppy in the act of soiling in your
home, avoid punishing your pup. This may only lead to your puppy hiding to pee
and poop, putting a significant dent in the potty training process.
If you find a mess, just clean it up and make a note to take your puppy out
earlier next time. If you catch your pup in the process of eliminating, simply
talk to your pup excitedly and prompt them to follow you to the door and
outside (or pick them up) and let them finish outdoors, lavishly praising and
rewarding them right afterward.
Tip: As you take your Beagle puppy outside, plan on training your puppy
to potty on command. This will turn handy in many different situations!
More Potty Training Tips
- Feed your puppy on a schedule. This will make for more predictable outings.
- Don’t give your Beagle puppy the free run of the house. Install a baby gate and keep them in a room with you where you can closely supervise them.
- Always be out with your pup when they eliminate so you can inform them they’ve done the right thing.
- Keep the crate close to the door to prevent accidents as your pup walks towards the door.
Facts About Beagles
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and
is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a
© 2019 Adrienne Farricelli
Hunter Wood on April 22, 2020:
I had a beagle for 15 years. She was 2 years old when I adopted her. Highly
intelligent, and she had her own door to go outside into a large partially
wooded fenced yard. Food stayed in her bowl 24 hours, She only ate a little at
a time and never became over weight! She would get up in middle of night , go
outside and potty, and then come back to bed. She loved people food. I started
boiling chicken livers and gizzards ( both cheap ) until livers started
falling apart and then I added rice to cook in the broth. This was cheaper
than the refrigerated doggy bologna @ $14 per 3 lbs and little girl loved it.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 12, 2020:
Doren, are you crate training your puppy? Where is your puppy peeing? At 12
weeks, puppies have little bladder control, it is very normal to have to take
them out once or even twice at night outside to potty. Things get better with
Doren k Colf on February 12, 2020:
our puppy is 12 weeks old gets up every night to pee and does have a few
accidents can not always hold his pea. any ideas what i should do.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 28, 2019:
Glad to hear you have had success with Nature’s Miracle for potty training dgs
Peggy! We are big fans of it and although may copycat companies are trying to
make their own versions, we remain fans of the original.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 13, 2019:
These are all good training tips. Potty training a puppy is hard work and
takes some effort, but once a dog is housebroken, all that effort is well
worth it. I can vouch for the efficacy of Nature’s Miracle. We had an older
dog that started to have accidents in the house towards the end of his life.
The enzymes in Nature’s Miracle really do eliminate urine odors and keep a dog
from reusing the same spot.