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Beagle Training As A Beginner

by Dan Waytkus

The first Beagle I ever trained was Foothill's Doc Holiday. I had never trained my own Beagle before and was unsure on how to do it. At about 4 months of age I started working with Doc in the outdoors and at around 5 months he opened on his first cottontail. It was the best and most rewarding "music to my ears" I had ever heard. This article covers how I trained Doc.

From the time we purchased Doc as a pup I worked with him in the yard on calling him by his name and getting him to come to me. As a reward when he came to me I gave him a biscuit. And if you watched Doc eat you would know he loved these biscuits! At around four months old, I started taking him with me when I ran with my cousin and his adult dogs. This got Doc use to the woods as he would venture off with the older dogs and explore the woods.

Mostly he wouldn't leave me but it still got him use to the environment and built up his confidence. After a couple weeks of doing this I would take him out early in the morning before the sun came up and the scent was at its best, because this was in the heat of the summer and early morning hours is when the rabbits are still out and active. The best time to do this is when it is cool and the ground is soaking wet after a good rain. That's when the scent is really strong and your pup is able to smell and track things the best.

Basically, all I would do is walk down a field along side a thick hedge row that I knew had an abundance of rabbits and sit down in the field. I would let Doc venture into the brush and simply use his nose. If he wanted to come and play with me, so I would take a big rock and throw it in the bushes. Doc would hear noises in the brush and that would draw his attention back into the bushes. Basically, I just sat there and watched him use his nose and watched his reactions. When he would smell something,  you could see his tail go erratic. I spent probably 2 hours 3 to 4 times a week just doing these outdoor walks with him.

While I was training Doc I let him get a look at a domestic rabbit only a few times. The very first time I let him go and the rabbit ran which sent Doc on a sight chase running after it. The very first time you do this you should hear what your pup's tonguing sounds like. I heard Doc's tonguing and he had a really deep voice and still does today.

Another time I let Doc chase a domestic rabbit, I took the rabbit to a large field along a hedge row and released it and let held Doc while he watched the rabbit hop off into the brush. He flipped out watching it run away and when the rabbit was finally out of seeing distance (about 80 yards away down over a hill in the field), I let him go, and he ran the scent trail all the way across a dirt field in the heat of the day. This was during a drought so this made me really happy to see him still on the scent with such bad scenting conditions.

The next time Doc got was scenting for the rabbit with his head down, he got within 15 yards of it. He looked up, saw the rabbit, and then went on a site chase after it. Let me tell you it was funny and awesome all at the same time watching this rabbit running for its dear life and this little puppy with a coon hounds voice chasing it. The rabbit finally ran out of wind, and Doc caught it. I let Doc mouth the rabbit for a few minutes, then held him by his collar, and let him watch as the rabbit ran away again. This time he went absolutely crazy while watching the rabbit hop away into a hedge row. After about 2 minutes and the rabbit was out of site, I let him go again. He scented that rabbit through the huge hedge row and found the rabbit after probably a total of 80 yards of scent tracking it. I was really impressed with this! Although he never opened while scenting the rabbit he still was able to find the rabbit with his nose. I let Doc do this one more time on a different day with the rabbit and I got the same results. I then decided that it was time to let Doc run with another dog.

After a few more times out by himself, he showed more independence and interest for the woods because he knew what he wanted to find. The next time out we took him with one of our older dogs, Foothills Sweet Sweet Sylvia. After about 5 minutes, Sylvia started a cottontail and then about a minute later Doc opened on his first rabbit. Let me tell you, at the very moment I heard his voice, I was so happy knowing all that work paid off and it was just onward and upward from here.

Doc ran 4 rabbits that day with Sylvia and once he even picked the check. On that day it was like a switch turned on inside of Doc. Every time out after that it was nothing but business for Doc. He showed a lot of independence and drive. Looking back, it is not really that hard to start a Beagle. You have to put a lot of time into your puppy and A LOT of patience. Doc is still running good to this day and we have shot a lot of bunnies in front of him. Doc now resides with Steve Zatorski in NY.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).