Training Beagles To Hunt Rabbits
These dogs are scent hounds which were developed entirely for tracking rabbits. They have very developed senses which will come in hand in your hunting adventures. Beagles are good pets because of their size, have good temper and the fact that they don’t have any inherited health problems makes it all even better! Thanks to all these factors, they are also good animal testing dogs. Beagle-type dogs have been around for 2,000 years but the “modern” Beagle was developed in Great Britain around the 1830s from combining several breeds: Talbot Hound, North Country Beagle, Southern Hound and Harrier.
As far as is training is concerned, the process should start at an early age, when they are still pups. Usually the basic training (which means retrieving and tracking a scent trail) should be started when the dog is 6-8 weeks old. Training sessions shouldn’t last long, 10-15 minutes maximum for 2-3 times per day because they can’t be attentive for a long period of time, just like children. This step of training will last for a few weeks.
Once the dog is near you, get the roll of socks and say “good dog” and start petting him. Once he starts listening to you, take him outside and place some rabbit scent on the socks. This is the perfect way to make the transition to a small dead rabbit.
Once your Beagle reaches 15 weeks or so, you should start teasing him with tame rabbits which work great due to the fact they are slower, bigger and they leave a more powerful scent trail in comparison with the wild rabbit. What you should do is put a leash on your dog and tie it to a tree or ask one of your friends to hold the leash while your dog observes you chasing a tame rabbit around the backyard. Your dog will get very excited and he will probably want to join you, he will even try to break the leash just to join you. When you see your dog is excited, set him free and let him go after it. Repeat this procedure for several times.
The next thing to do is to let the tame rabbit jump around your backyard and somewhere out of your dog’s site place the tame rabbit inside a portable holding pen at a scent trail’s end. Afterwards, put your dog at the line’s beginning and let him track the line until he will find the tame rabbit. Repeat this procedure for several times and make the distances bigger every time.
Once your Beagle reaches 6 months of age you should start training him in a starting pen (small outdoor enclosure, about 3/4 from an acre, which is reinforced with rabbit-proof fencing). Inside you should place a few rabbits and also some natural cover. Put your dog inside for a few hours per day, for several days and let him search/jump/run rabbits. If you don’t have a starting pen then you should take your dog in areas where there are lots of rabbits, before dusk or after dawn.
Next thing to do is run your Beagle in running pens which are just like starting pens, only bigger. These pens are perfect because you can let your dog run freely without any stress, as he won’t get hit by a car, nor he will get lost or stolen. You should let your hound run rabbits by himself a few times but in most cases, you should be with him, if you follow him, you will make a better team in “real” hunting adventures. If you don’t have a running pen you should take him out into the field every time you have the possibility to do so.
After finishing all these steps don’t think that the training is over because it isn’t. Run your dog as much as you can, work with him as a team, day and night. Practice makes perfect as they say so keep training him until your Beagle is an efficient rabbit hound dog.