by Charlotte Bragg
Hello everyone, it has been awhile. This month’s article is about training pups. I will go from what I taught my pups to how it has worked out for me. The pups are now 21 months old. They run beautifully and handle great.
When my pups were a few days old I left them alone because Julie (the dam) would get too excited when I went near them. Being a first time mother I didn’t want to upset her too much. After a few weeks I would pile them all in a laundry basket and bring them in the house to play. They were getting used to being handled and being around people. Then I moved to taking them outside in the grass. I would take them away from Julie for a little while; she welcomed the quiet and the pups were able to develop their ‘people’ skills.
When they were about 6 weeks old I started taking them out into our back woods. This might sound strange, but I have never before done any kind of training with Beagles. I knew they had to get out so they wouldn’t be shy, that they had to be taught to listen, and that the ultimate goal was to get them to run rabbits. I walked them through noisy leaves and kicked branches as we walked so they wouldn’t be afraid of things. Sure enough if someone threw a bolder next to them they wouldn’t flinch, and mind you these are little guys. They received their vaccinations at 8 wks. old and were dusted for fleas, and wormed.
Next, I started to teach them what “down” meant. I would gently push them on the ground and say the word “Down”. At first they looked at me like, “what are you talking about?” When they listened I scratched their tummies and gave them little treats. They loved the attention and associated something good with performing the “Down” command. The key to training a dog is to do everything by association. Before you knew it, I would bring them back from playing in the woods, and get them all rounded up to go back in the kennels. They would "Down" one by one and behaved so well. Of course, I had my days when they were just total brats, but what can you expect from puppies who are 9-10 wks old?
Around 4 months old we showed them a dead rabbit and let them play with it. My Dad and I tied the rabbit to a rope and let the pups play tug of war with each other. The ones that were the most interested would get a trip to the woods with a live rabbit. My little female, Little Jewel Jasper, chased the tame bunny and thought it was a fun game. What a feeling when they opened for the first time. A few days later my male, Hare Razor Buddy, opened for his first time. Eventually they were all started.
Once they were started I got hold of a dead wild rabbit and started making scent trails with it. I remember teaching Buddy to make a check. I pretended I was the rabbit, and did a great check, which he picked up on with no problem. I couldn’t wait to tell my Dad what Buddy had accomplished. Eventually, he picked up a check on a live, tame rabbit and he was on his way.
Meanwhile, Jewel was doing her stuff, from picking up checks to finding out where the rabbit had been last. They were all doing wonderful. I was really proud of them. I started taking them back all the time to run the tame rabbit, some days alone and some days with each other. They kept improving until it was time to take them to our running grounds where we run the adult dogs. At first they just kind of sniffed around and wondered where they were. I said to myself, "I bet more time out back in the woods with the tame rabbits would fix the problem."
My Dad and I took them again to the running grounds about a month later. They starting smelling the rabbit scent and went wild. They picked up the scent and trailed him high speed all the way across this 25-acre field, with a few short checks. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was screaming to my Dad, ‘these are our pups, these are our pups’, I was thinking of all the hard work that went into training them, and the money my Dad put out to have them. We were so happy and couldn’t stop talking the whole way home.
My pups have continued to improve and are excellent runners today. We have taken them to a few field trials already. Buddy has bench trophies from the 2 trials he competed in, but had some bad breaks in the field. He split rabbits 3 times in one cast -- the poor guy. And little Jewel, she has been in 2 trials so far and did great; not the least bit shy. I had Buddy on ‘tour’ for awhile, he was too young to run in the AKC trials that me and Dad went to, but I would bring him so he would get use to traveling, meeting new dogs, new people and visit different running grounds. We were planning on going to many field trials and getting Julie finished as well as getting Dad’s dog, Boone, certified, but Dad won’t be here to do that with me now. It is difficult now going to our running grounds without him, but I know he is watching me, and some sweet day I will see my Dad again.
Everyone has their way of training pups I suppose, but this method worked for me and my pups. My pups are FC Brinsky’s Run-Em- Over Tank x Ablett’s Julie (her pedigree has a lot of Tank’s line, and FC Wild Creek Freckled Sam is her sire). The pups are great runners and beautiful bench dogs and the sweetest little dogs one could ever want! I will always be thankful to my Dad for getting me involved in field trials; he was and will always be my ‘Beagle buddy’ and every time I hear their yips as they run a rabbit I will think of the best father anybody could have had, my Dad. Happy Beagling everyone and keep’em hoppin!