The beagle is a well-known breed of dog from the hound grouping, which was historically used as a hunting dog as part of pack hunting with hounds. As hunting with hounds is now illegal within the UK, the popularity and number of beagles in the UK has fallen exponentially, but those that are kept today tend to be pets rather than working dogs. Nevertheless, the strong working history of the breed means that they retain strong pack instincts and working traits, which means that the best way to train, handle and manage a beagle should be tailored to suit the dog, working with these instincts rather than against them.
In this article, we will cover some tips, tricks and suggestions on training the beagle. Read on to learn more!
The beagle is one breed that can be stubborn and challenging to train, and they are also very single minded about pursuing prey once they catch the scent of something. This means that training the breed for reliable recall and getting their attention in the face of external stimulus can be a challenge, but harnessing these traits and working with them in the right way can prove highly effective.
Food treats and other rewards can be used to catch the attention of the beagle’s powerful scenting ability, turning training into a scenting game with a reward at the end of it.
The beagle is a very active, lively breed with a lot of endurance, and they need a significant amount of both mental and physical stimulation. They need to be well exercised and not full of excess energy when it comes to training, and their exercise should be varied and interactive in order to keep their minds occupied and challenged as well. As mentioned, the beagle’s scenting ability and desire to track by scent can be utilised as a training tool, and effective beagle training can be given a good start by teaching your dog simple scenting and tracking games.
In order to instil the first commands in your dog’s memory, use a cue such as “find it!” with a treat near to your dog, encouraging them to scent it out on command. Progressively move treats further and further away and hide them in unusual locations, in order to improve your dog’s range and keep them thinking.
Once your dog becomes proficient at this, incorporate toys into the game, using a different term for each item, and teaching your dog to selectively fetch the one that you command. Keeping training fun and engaging for your beagle is the key to retaining their attention, and encouraging them to learn new skills and responses.
Beagles can be one of the more challenging breeds to get house trained, and it is important to be reliable and consistent when it comes to training, beginning as soon as you get your dog. Feed them at the same time each day, and learn when your dog will need to go out to the loo, as this will tend to follow fairly set patterns assuming that they are fed at the same time each day.
Never ignore your dog’s requests to go out, as this is important to avoid accidents and teach your beagle that asking to go out to the toilet will always be answered.
Training the beagle for reliable recall is one of the greatest challenges of training, as is often the case with hunting breeds that have superior scenting abilities. A beagle on a trail will be very hard to divert from what they are doing, and so the trick is to teach your beagle that responding to your recall will come with a reward, and a better reward than that which they might find for themselves when ignoring you! Find out what your dog’s favourite treats are and keep these as high value rewards for recall only, to ensure that you can catch your dog’s attention and get them back to you reliably.
Many beagles will need to be kept on the lead at all times when they are not within an enclosed area, due to their tenacity and desire to run off in pursuit of a scent! However, again using treats, it is entirely possible to teach a beagle to walk to heel off the lead, come when called, and respond to your commands even when they are at a distance. Begin by working with your dog on a loose, retractable lead in order to retain some control, and gradually progress to off the lead training once your beagle has proven responsive and reliable without you having to use the lead to pull them back.
Training the beagle successfully and effectively can be a challenge for the uninitiated, but the keys to success ultimately involve routine, intensive work, and harnessing the dog’s natural instincts, rather than fighting against them.