The Beagle is a talented scent hound and his sense of smell is his most powerful tool. Even if you choose not to train your Beagle for hunting and tracking, you should still make an effort to help him use and develop his scenting skills. Keep reading to learn more about simple games you can play with your Beagle to engage his keen sense of smell.
How Strong is Your Beagle’s Nose?
You don’t have to be a dog owner yourself to know that a dog’s sense of smell is exponentially stronger than your own. What you may not realize, however, is just how strong a dog’s sense of smell can be. All dogs have 45 times the number of scent receptors in the nose than humans have and the olfactory lobe in their brains is 40 times larger than yours.
While all dogs have a stronger sense of smell than humans, the Beagle’s senses are among the strongest. In fact, they are the breed with the second strongest sense of smell, coming in just behind the Blood Hound. Blood Hounds have a total of 300 million scent receptors while Beagles have 225 million. To put this into context, consider that the human nose only has about 5 million scent receptors. If you were to unravel the Beagle’s scent membranes it would cover an area of 60 square inches – a human’s would only cover 1 square inch. Imagine that!
Scent Games to Play with Beagles
The Beagle is one of the dog breeds with the strongest sense of smell but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on improving it. As is true for any skill, it takes time and practice for your Beagle to learn how to use his keen senses effectively. One of the best ways to help your Beagle engage his senses is to play scent games like those described below:
- Find It – When you are out walking your Beagle, keep a pocket full of treats on hand and hide them from time to time. To teach your Beagle the game, start by telling him to Sit and Stay then place a treat on the ground a few steps away. When you return, reward your Beagle for staying then say “Find it!” and let him go for the treat. After a few repetitions, start hiding the treat under things and place it farther away so your dog has to smell for it.
- Create a Scent Trail – Teach your Beagle how to follow a scent trail by breaking up a few treats in to very small pieces and drop them every few inches along the way to a place where you will hide a larger treat. Lead your Beagle to the start of the scent trail and let him go – it shouldn’t take long for him to figure this game out.
- Food-Dispensing Toys – Interactive toys and food-dispensing toys are a great way to engage your dog’s mind, especially when you have to leave him home alone for long periods of time. To really engage your Beagle’s sense of smell, however, you should try hiding these toys around the house. The first few times you hide them, let your Beagle see you doing it so he learns the point of the game. Once he understands you can start choosing more challenging hiding places.
Now that you have a better understanding of just how strong your Beagle’s nose is, you should be able to understand that it is an important part of what makes a Beagle a Beagle. Even if you don’t want to train your Beagle for tracking you should still give him an opportunity to use and strengthen his keen sense of smell – playing scent games is an easy and fun way to do this.
Photo credit: Malingering/Flickr