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Apart from being cute and adorable pets, beagles are amazing hunters. Being hounds, they are active, energetic, and have an exceptional skill to track down scents. This makes them a perfect companion for hunting rabbits, squirrels, deers, and other small animals. So let’s get started with how you can train your beagle to hunt rabbits, deers, squirrels, and other small animals.
To train your beagle to hunt, you will first need to train it to track the scent of a particular animal. Then you will have to motivate your beagle to chase that animal when it finds it.
This was, of course, just the overview, and there’s more to it. I have explained everything step-by-step below.
NOTE: Before you hunt, make sure you are totally aware of the local laws for hunting and hunting with dogs.
Why beagles are a perfect breed for hunting
Back in time, beagles were bred to be a hunting companion. They are ideal for tracking, chasing, and hunting small prey. They belong to the hound group, and hence have an exceptional sense of smell. Their nose is capable of tracking down the scent, and their high energy level allows them to chase its prey. Beagles have an instinct to howl and notify their owner when they catch the scent of the prey.
This makes beagle a perfect companion for hunting small animals.
Training your Beagle to Hunt
It is recommended that you start training your beagle when he is a puppy. The right age to begin with his hunt-training is when your beagle is 5 to 6 months old. However, you should start with obedience training as early as possible. Puppies are easier
Step 1: Obedience Training
Well, you cannot just remove the leash and expect your beagle to start chasing animals. You will first have to teach him obedience, gain his trust, teach him to follow your commands, and then teach him how to hunt with you.
You should start with obedience training when your beagle is eight weeks old. The sooner he learns to follow your commands, the better. You should begin with teaching some basic commands to your pup, like sit, stay, no.
The Recall Command
Once your beagle pup knows some basic commands, you should teach him the “recall” command, which is will be handy while hunting. In recall command, you will have to teach your pooch to return to you when you call him. This is how you teach your beagle the Recall command:
- When your dog is busy playing or chewing on something, get his attention, and show him a treat.
- He will come running towards you to get his treat.
- When he comes to you, give him a treat (and click the clicker or say the motivating word like ‘good boy’).
- Now associate a word to activity. Call out ‘come back’ and show your beagle a treat. When he comes to you, reward him with praise and treat.
- After a couple of days, stop showing treat and just call out ‘come back.’
- Repeat this multiple times daily.
Consider teaching your beagle various tricks and commands until he is 5 to 6 months old. This will build trust and create a strong bond between you and your pooch.
Step 2: Training Collar
A training collar is a device that will help you communicate with your beagle while on a hunt. Modern collars also provide GPS to locate your pooch. In easy words, it is a walkie talkie for you and your beagle. They just make hunting much easier and safer.
In the early stage of training, a beagle may get distracted by another small animal or scent. Having a training collar attached to your dog will help you locate him quickly in such a situation. There are quite a few training collars available in the market. Get one which a walkie talkie as well as GPS on it.
Once your beagle is disciplined and follows your commands, its time to put a training-collar and teach him to follow your commands via the collar. This is how you can do it:
- You will need one more companion for this. Attach the collar to your dog and keep him in a room with someone.
- While you will be in another room and communicate to your beagle via training-collar.
- Say a command and see if your beagle follows it. If he does, then let the other person reward him with a treat. This will teach your beagle to follow your commands even if you are not around.
- Now keep your beagle alone in a room, and ‘recall’ him from a different room. When he comes running back to you, reward him.
- Once he has mastered this indoor, its time to take things outdoor.
- When you take your beagle outside, make sure the training area is confined and well fenced. Beagles are infamous for running away. So take extra precaution when training your beagle outside.
Your beagle must follow your command over the training-collar even when you are not around. Do not allow your beagle in the open without a leash until you are 100% sure that he will follow your command.
Step 3: Training your Beagle to Track a scent
In this step, you will teach your beagle to catch and track a scent that you want him to. This is advanced training, and you can start with it once your pooch has mastered ”recall’ and other basic commands like ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ etc. You can begin this training when your beagle is around 3 to 4 months old.
- Choose an area for training. It should be grassy and without any distractions. Consider doing this training early in the morning when no one is around.
- Take peanut butter, a food bowl, and some treats with you for training and rewarding your beagle.
- If possible, take a friend with you and ask him to take the beagle away from the place for a while.
- Until then, you apply a layer of peanut butter on both of your shoes and start walking on the grass with a motive to create a trail.
- At the end of the trail, put peanut butter in the food bowl.
- Make sure to remove or change your shoes or else the smell will be all over the place and confuse the dog.
- Now ask your friend to get your pooch and let him sniff and taste a little peanut butter.
- Take him to the beginning of the trail. Command him “find it” and let him sniff and follow the scent.
- Let him lead the way and find the food bowl. When he reaches the end of the trail and find the bowl, praise him and give him some treats. Do not allow him to eat that peanut butter.
Start with a short distance and gradually increase the length of the trail. In the beginning, stick to one smell only.
Step 4: Introducing an Animal
Once your pooch has mastered tracking scent, its time to introduce an animal scent, I would suggest initially using a tamed rabbit for the training. Wild rabbits can be a little too aggressive as they can scratch and injure your beagle puppy.
Start the training in a fenced ground or backyard or else the rabbit and your dog, both will run away.
Let the beagle sniff the rabbit. Hold the rabbit in front of your beagle and let him sniff it.
Don’t allow your rabbit to play and get comfortable with the rabbit. Just let him take a sniff.
Step 5: Chasing
Once the pooch has had a good sniff, its time to encourage him to chase the animal (rabbit).
- Tie your beagle somewhere where he can see you and the rabbit.
- Release the rabbit
- Start chasing the rabbit. This will entice your beagle to join you. He will show his excitement by trying to break the leash.
- And when he seems excited, release your pup and let him run behind the rabbit.
- When your pooch is chasing the rabbit, make sure to praise him. If possible, even you join the chase to catch the rabbit. This will motivate your beagle to outrun you to catch the rabbit.
You will have to do this for a couple of months until your beagle is used to the scent of the rabbit and chasing it when he sees one.
Gradually increase the radius; this will give the rabbit enough area to hide and allow your beagle to use his scent to find and chase the rabbit.
Put on the collar during these sessions and try to communicate as much as possible. This will strengthen the bond between you two.
Step 5: Prepare your Beagle for Hunting
Several months of chasing rabbits will help build stamina of your beagle puppy. Now its time to take your pooch for trial hunting.
- Once you are 100% sure that you can trust your beagle out in the wild without the leash, take him to a spot where you know there are lots of rabbits around and no other animals.
- Stay close to your rabbit and motivate him to find the scent.
- If possible, let him loose with an older and experienced beagle dog. Your beagle will learn more quickly if he is with an older beagle. Consider asking your neighbor or check in a local dog club.
- Get him used to the noise of shots.
Do this for a week or so, let him get used to the jungle environment.
Step 6: Take your Beagle on a Hunt
- Initially, make sure you take your beagle directly to a place where it is easy to find a rabbit. The ideal period for this would be early in the morning or in the dusk.
- By now, your pooch knows what he is supposed to do. So he will immediately catch the rabbit scent and start tracking its source.
- As soon as he finds the rabbit, the chase will begin.
- Rabbits don’t go far from their homes and usually circle. So if your beagle takes off chasing the rabbit, don’t worry, the rabbit will circle and you will have to be ready when he comes back.
As the beagle ages and gets experienced, his skills will develop. It takes around a year for your beagle to master hunting. If you are into this sport, then its all worth it.
Training your Beagle to Hunt Deer
Once your beagle has learned to track and chase rabbits, its time for leveling up. Your beagle already knows how to hunt with you, so teaching him to track and chase deer won’t be difficult.
- Introduce your beagle to the deer scent. This time, of course, you cannot get a tamed deer to help with training, so you will have to use manufactured deer scent. You can find a bottle of deer scent on any hunting store or even on amazon. Put a few drops of it on the ground and let your pooch sniff it.
- When your dog is inside the house, create a trail by dropping a few drops of deer scent on the ground or the grass.
- Bring him out and let him track that smell.
- When he successfully reaches the end of the trail, reward him and praise him.
- Now its time to go in the woods. Take your beagle at a place where deers are a common appearance.
- When you find a deer, take your beagle there and let him sniff and track the trail.
- After doing this for a week, you let your beagle off-leash and chase the deer.
Training your Beagle to Hunt Squirrel
Training your pooch to track down squirrels can be a little tricky but possible.
- First, you will have to introduce squirrel-scent to your beagle.
- Then create a trail of squirrel-scent on the ground and allow your beagle to track its source. Your beagle already knows how to do it with rabbit and deer so that it won’t be difficult this time.
- Once your beagle is capable to successfully track the trail, its time to take him out in the open and practice.
Do’s and Don’ts
Build trust: It is necessary for your beagle to trust you. And the best way to build it is by training and a positive reward system.
Don’t over train your beagle. As soon as you notice that your beagle is losing interest in what you are teaching him, stop the training and continue it the next day.
Be patient. This may take months to achieve, so be patient and persistent with your training.
Don’t confuse them. Teach them one thing at a time. Do not try to teach your beagle various things all at the same time.
Training your beagle to hunt with you requires time, effort, and consistency. It usually takes around a year for a beagle to properly learn to hunt with you. Also, make sure to check and follow all the local, state, and national laws regarding hunting and hunting with dogs.