How to Train a Scent-Obsessed Beagle

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Patience is a virtue when it comes to training a beagle.
Patience is a virtue when it comes to training a beagle. (Image: Lunja/iStock/Getty Images)

Beagles have a lot to offer. They're usually good-natured, get along with other dogs and cats, and don't shed much. Training, however, can be a challenge. That's primarily because a beagle's nose rules his life. Training a scent-obsessed beagle takes time and patience, but you can do it.

Beagle Puppies

If you have no plans to hunt with your beagle and want to purchase a puppy, buy one from show rather than field lines. Although any beagle still follows his nose, that trait is emphasized in field hunting lines. Because beagle puppies often take longer than other breeds to housetrain, crate train your dog. If you give him unsupervised run of the house early on, you're setting him up to fail. Once he has an accident, he'll still pick up the scent of urine or feces no matter what you use to clean the carpet or floor. You can't smell it, but he can, and he considers that area a place to "go." Have patience, and your beagle eventually will get the hang of housetraining.

Beagle Training

Enroll your puppy or older beagle in obedience classes. Look for trainers with beagle experience. Beagles are bright, but quite independent. The pejorative term is "stubborn." Nor Cal Beagle Rescue recommend at least four months worth of obedience classes for the breed. For best results, engage in activities your beagle naturally enjoys. Look into local rally or tracking clubs. While beagles usually don't shine at standard obedience shows, they can do well in agility. With beagles, it helps to make training a game. Think of them as canine students who learn differently from their doggy peers.

The Other Obsession -- Food

It's likely your scent-obsessed beagle also harbors a food obsession. Use that to your advantage while training. When he responds correctly to a command, reward him with a treat. Give him lots of praise, though praise alone won't cut it with a beagle. Train him consistently, working with him every day. He also requires plenty of exercise, which can consist of long walks giving him ample opportunities to sniff.

Beagle Precautions

Even if you think your beagle is well-trained, don't take him for walks off-lead. That's just tempting fate; you're one scent of a bunny away from your dog making tracks. In addition to a collar with a license and identification tags, have your beagle microchipped. Beagles often end up as strays at shelters, far from the area in which they were last seen. Collars can come off. If you want to improve the odds of reuniting with your lost beagle, microchipping is the way to go.

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