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Getting the Beagles Back In


Jeff Hirst

            Just about anyone who has ever owned hunting Beagles knows the frustration of not being able to call them quickly when either the hunt is over, or you want them to work a particular patch of cover.  We all know about those days when we are still out in the field after dark trying to find the last of the pack.  Or are chasing down that stubborn, yet gung-ho Beagle that just does not want to leave the woods.  Perhaps one of the Beagles got turned around out there and can’t find its way back to the hunters.  Never the less, you can get your dog in without a whole lot of effort on your part.  I’m not talking about calling in Beagles that are on a rabbit (you never want one to give up on a trail).  I’m referring to those dogs that are running off game or lost.

            Some years ago I became tired of spending time and energy calling for, whistling for, and chasing down my Beagles.  I wished that they would just mind and handle as well as my Labs did.  The question was just what was it that made the Labs so easy to work with?  Then it occurred to me.  It was their reaction to a whistle.  I train them to follow voice, visual (hand signals), and whistle commands.  The type of command from the whistle is determined by the cadence, or pattern.  I then decided to try to teach Beagle pups a basic whistle command.  COME.  It’s easy to teach.  And it’s worked on every Beagle since.  It has also been passed on to some Beagles that are owned by hunting buddies.  They see my Beagles run in to me when I hit the whistle, and they start to do likewise.

            Unless they are on game, my Beagles will come to me on the run when I give three loud blasts from a referees type whistle.  I use one that is stainless steel and has a lanyard attached.  Why this type of whistle?  Its’ sound will travel over a great distance.  During the winter when the leaves and other foliage is down, a dog can here it for nearly a mile through the woods.  Once he hears it, he knows where I am.

            How and when should you train your beagle to come to the whistle?  When is on day-one, the day that you bring your pup home.  How?  That’s simple.  Especially since Beagles of any age are easily motivated by food.  I find that bits of hotdogs, or some type of greasy ‘hunters sausage’ works well.  Not let’s get started.

            Take your pup out in the yard  and sit down with him.  Give three soft toots on the whistle and immediately put a piece of the hotdog in front of his nose.  If he’s a true beagle, he’ll gobble it right down.  Do this a few more times and then end the session.  As with any training, you don’t want to over do it.  This is especially true with pups.  After a couple of hours repeat the training session.  Your little beagle is now starting to associate the whistle with food.  In another couple of hours start another session.  Only this time you want to be about ten feet away from the pup when you blow the whistle.  When he comes to you give him the food and good praise and petting.  If he doesn’t come, toot the whistle again.  You may have to hold out the food and then pull it back so he follows you to where you were sitting.  Giving that three-toot cadence as he follows you.  When your satisfied that he’s followed you back, you can give him his treat.

            I’ve found that young pups of 6-8 weeks of age will pick up on the whistle very fast.  Most will come running across the yard to me by the end of their first day.  Remember though that some real young pups can’t see very far or very well, so you may not be able to expect them to come over a distance of more than 15 or 20 feet.  As your pup responds to the whistle better, you can gradually increase the distance.  Just don’t over do it and bore him.  Three to five times, twice a day is plenty.

            When your beagle is ready for the field, you’ll be glad that you taught him to come to a whistle.  The days of hollering yourself hoarse will be over.  You’ll save your voice for heaping praise on those little beauties at the end of the hunt.  Good luck, and good hunting.  Remember to take a kid Beagling with you.

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).