Beagles hunt through using their most prized senses- their ears and their noses. For many centuries, this dog breed has been on top of the most preferred hunting companions. They excel effortlessly when it comes to tracking down on prey whether it be just a small game or an actual hunting ground.
That alone explains why in this modern time, Beagle dogs are hired on actual jobs. Currently, most dogs from this hound group are used to detect prohibited agricultural imports that circulate in most parts of the world.
Let’s dive further into how Beagles execute their superb hunting skills and track down the qualities that make this breed the top dog when it comes to this area.
What Do Beagles Hunt For?
Beagles have been recorded to hunt several smaller prey which includes snowshoe hares, deers, cottontail rabbits, stoats, coyote, bobcat, wild boar, and even foxes. You might be a little suspicious as to how a medium-sized Beagle can take down all the listed animals. Well, the successful hunting background of the Beagle dog was due to their tactic- they hunt in packs.
Their human companions would normally give commands first before letting these dogs go in search of a specific prey. Once they are off, you’d automatically find these Beagles laying their heads low to the ground, their noses sniffing and looking for some scent. Their white-tipped tails would typically stand erect so their owners would know where they are whilst they do their tasks.
Nowadays, this has changed significantly. A great number of Beagles no longer have to go out and hunt but rather simply keep on putting their prey drive into practice. Owners would replace the real deal with hidden toys and then let their pooches locate where these items are. Despite the change, Beagle pups remain to enjoy this modification.
7 Reasons That Make Beagles Good Hunters
Beagles have almost all the skills needed for a victorious hunt. Aside from their high prey drive, it is fair to say that they are bred and trained to chase after small animals or participate in small games which became very prominent in the 1800s. Here are the reasons why the Beagle breed became a top choice as a companion for most hunters:
- He’s got the right amount of energy. Beagles are no lazy dogs. They love to jump and do various games and activities with their owners. Their large pool of energy enables them to hunt from sunrise to sunset without showing obvious signs of exhaustion. If you want to hunt down a deer, your Beagle is ready for that!
- He’s very determined. Determination is a crucial trait a good hunting dog must possess no matter the kind of climate he’s in. If it’s raining heavily or the sun is scorching, the hunt continues. Beagles have the right amount of perseverance to keep going in the field of hunting.
- He’s alert at all times. The hunting game, although it might sound fun, is actually very risky and dangerous. The hunting Beagle must be cognizant and alert about his surroundings to avoid getting mistaken as prey or a game animal by hunters or poachers. Thanks to this dog’s unique tail, the chance of getting shot is low.
- He’s intelligent. Although he ranks low in Stanley Coren’s smart breed rankings, there are two reasons why Beagles remain to be quick-witted- they have adaptive and instinctive intelligence. The standardized test of the famed psychologist is not an absolute measure.
- He’s got a great nose. If humans have 5 million receptors found in the nose, Beagles, on the other hand, have 220 million! Moreover, he could pick up 50 different smells and can easily remember each one in the future. If his nose is wet, the better it functions.
- He has a distinct baying voice. Since Beagles are capable of baying or letting out a peculiar bark from a distance, hunters could easily locate where the dogs are. Even if the pooches are deep within the forest, their sound can still be heard.
- He knows how to drive trails. Directing prey such as a rabbit or a fox to the hunter is one of the duties given to a Beagle during the hunt. If properly trained, he can do this effortlessly.
Is Scent Training Needed for My Beagle?
Yes, scent training enriches your dog’s ability to use his sense of smell. Not only is it a positive experience, but it also encourages both the dog and the owner to have a more meaningful bond and a stronger foundation. Building up trust between the hunter and the Beagles is necessary so that you’d go home triumphant at the end of every hunt.
How Can I Scent Train My Beagle?
If this is the kind of training you want to incorporate into your Beagle, here is the right way of doing it:
- You have to introduce the scent first. Using a few drops of essential oil on his favorite ball or toy is a good idea. The ones that are often recommended are lavender and anise, but you have to consult your vet first on this.
- On the next day, hide the scented ball. Drop a few scented oils on items such as paper and make a trail directing to the location of the ball.
- Let your Beagle follow the trail. If your dog understands verbal cues already, use the one he’s familiar with, such as by saying, “Look for it”. He should start following the scent. In case he struggles, you can direct him.
- As the training continues for several days, lessen the clues and set the trails far apart from each other. The objective of this training is for him to eventually find the scented ball without any hints.
- Once he’s successful in locating the scented ball, you can transfer this activity outside. The simpler the place is, the better as the outside environment would have more scents that can pose a distraction for your Beagle pet.
More Hunting Training Sessions You Can Teach To Your Beagle
- Pick two rooms for the activity. The first one is where your Beagle stays for a while and the second room is where you’ll hide the item.
- Show your Beagle the item or the toy he’s going to look for. Preferably, it should be something he always plays with. Let him smell it.
- Hide the toy away. Ensure your dog doesn’t follow you yet in the other room. Place the toy in an open area.
- Let him look for the item. Give him a signal depending on what verbal cue he’s familiar with such as “go look for it!” Right from the start, he might have some trouble looking for the toy, but you can give him a lead.
- Give him treats. Right after he finds the toy, reward him with a delicious snack!
- Level up! Every time your pooch is successful at finding his toy, make the task more difficult.
- Use other kinds of objects. Once the doggy masters the search for his first toy, use other items and repeat the same process if needed.
The Box Game
- Pick two rooms in the house. The first room is where your dog waits and the second room is where you hide the object.
- Show the box to your dog and place a kibble inside it. Let him see and smell it.
- Ask someone to hold your Beagle while you hide the box in the other room. Make it easier to find at the start.
- Let your dog find it. You can either direct or simply point the room to your Beagle. The moment he finds and devours the kibble, praise him or reward him with affection.
- Level up! Every time he successfully finds the box with a treat inside, hide it in harder-to-see places.
- Use more boxes. Once you’re confident that your Beagle puppy has mastered this box game method, you can use several more boxes with only one of them containing a kibble. Your Beagle has to identify which box has the treat inside.
Dos and Don’ts of Beagle Hunt Training
Discovering how magnificent your Beagle can be in the area of hunting might get you excited. There’s indeed lots of available information which you can try online, however, only a handful are effective.
To help you on this matter, I have sifted through all the important dos and don’ts every Beagle owner must know:
Treat your Beagle the way you would to a regular canine. Never force or hasten him into learning hunting skills. Let him play and explore his environment at his own pace. Trust is very important for a life-long bond between you and your pet and this develops without any hint of pressure from a doting handler or owner.
Start the Training at the Right Time
Ideally, Beagle puppies can be trained once they reach the age of 5 to 7 months. The simplest way to start skill-learning is to get them to become familiar with the smell of a hare. Bring them to the holes where the prey usually comes out of and let them explore the surroundings.
Give Them a Regular Exercise
Part of what builds up a Beagle’s determination to catch prey is if he has no problem chasing after it. Beagles are prone to obesity and this would greatly impact his duty as a hunting partner. Let him run or move around for an hour each day. This can be divided into 2 periods, morning and afternoon.
Let Your Beagle Learn From Experience
During training, don’t go through the bush or clear out the way for your Beagles. Let them do the whole thing by themselves! Beagles have a strong instinct and they can evaluate situations quickly. If you take off a part of their duty, they will assume you’d do this again in the future, thus becoming reliant. Get your Beagles to discover where the rabbits are without your help.
Let the Beagle Pup Run With the Adults
Your puppy has no better teacher than the experienced adult Beagles! By letting him join the party, he would grasp the right way to run and catch the prey. The more often he gets to join the pack, the better skills he’ll acquire eventually.
Just Teach Your Beagle the Basics
There is no need to teach your pooch the more complex obedience training. Teaching him verbal cues which are often used in the course of hunting would suffice and let their genetics come into play. Beagles are bred to hunt, they only need a quick starter or an eye-opener for them to realize that they are born to hunt!
Learning is not always a smooth ride for the Beagle pups, but they are gradually learning. Be patient with every mistake your doggy does and don’t forget about positively reinforcing him.
Don’t Overtrain Him
Beagles may seem to have an endless amount of energy and enthusiasm for the hunt, however, giving them breaks will allow them to regain their lost vigor. It’s time to call it quits and continue the next day once your Beagle shows no interest in the training.
There are lots of hunting skills you might need to teach your Beagle, but ensure that he masters the first one before jumping to another.
Beagles are ideal hunting companions. Their body structure, genetics, and intelligence will surely amaze you should you decide to bring one on your hunt. With the right attitude and determination, your Beagle will be the best scenthound to accompany you on your favorite field sport!