The Beagle is quite a unique breed and as such, may require a special set of conditions as a family pet. As the Beagle was originally bred to hunt in a pack, they long for companionship. Being left on their own for long periods of time may make for an unhappy and often bored Beagle. A happy Beagle is one that has company for much of the day.
The behaviours and traits bred in the Beagle for hunting carry over into the nature of the Beagle in their general lives and in sports they may undertake. Those who own Beagles will often talk about their Beagle “never getting their nose off the ground”, “barking frantically while they are sniffing” or “never walking in a straight line”. It is important to remember that these are desirable traits for the purpose of the breed and that the Beagle is happiest when they have their nose down, searching for a scent, their tails high.
The most powerful trait of the Beagle is their inquisitive mind and strong sense of smell. This is what made the breed such a useful hunting dog and what makes it such a useful working breed today. Beagles will want to smell anything and everything and always want to know what’s on the other side of the fence. Beagles will wander if they are able to and will love roaming the streets, seeking out new smells. A good high fence, secured at the bottom, is a must for a Beagle, as well as supporting responsible dog ownership. The fence should be at least 1.5 metres tall, as many Beagles will climb or jump a low fence.
In days gone by, when Beagles were in a pack hunt, they were often away from home for long periods of time without being fed. As a result, their instinct now is to try and eat anything and everything whenever they can. Obesity in the breed is common as a Beagle will appear to be hungry even after a big meal. Many owners will tell you of stories of their Beagle eating whole roasts, working their way through a bag of dog food or even eating wedding cakes, only to turn around half an hour later looking for their dinner. A controlled balanced diet, along with regular exercise is most important for a Beagle. The rule of thumb is don’t wait for your Beagle to tell you when they are full because they will never tell you.
The nature of the Beagle makes them a dog that can certainly be trained but which has some specific requirements as part of their training program.
As the nature of the Beagle is to keep their nose on the ground and to sniff everything in their path, it can be frustrating at times when you are wanting a nice leisurely walk yourself. Training will assist to alleviate this but keep in mind that this is what a Beagle is bred to do and is happiest doing.
The Beagle’s sense of smell is their most acute sense and they rely on this as much as a human relies on their sight or hearing. When a Beagle is in a training program, often their instinct is to put their nose on the ground, find out what smells are around, and then pay attention to their trainer. To successfully train a Beagle it is most important for the Beagle to focus on the trainer. This can take a lot of work but must happen before any form of training can take place. One big advantage with a Beagle is that they are almost always very motivated by food. A Beagle will focus on their owner when they have food, so you can use food as a reward when training your Beagle.