When it comes to hunting skills, the Beagle is unquestionably top dog. The breed's talent was developed over centuries of hunting gopher, rabbit, and small game. In the 1800s, the Beagle's popularity began to dwindle as fox hunting became popular and the Foxhound stole the limelight. But determined and passionate breeders kept the Beagle breed alive. Today, this beloved hound is still one of the most popular breeds for hunting small game.
What makes the Beagle a prized hunting dog?
Driving trails: When hunting rabbit, a dog is expected to direct the prey towards the hunter. The Beagle has a knack for doing this effortlessly.
Scenting: The Beagle has full nostrils ideal for scenting (sniffing out scents). He is almost always found with his nose to the ground. Sometimes a Beagle's keen sense of smell can even lead him to uncover things on his own.
Baying: The Beagle is recognized by hunters for his unique bark which is called a bay. This distinctive sound can be heard deep within the woods.
Determination: Drive is an important trait in a hunting dog. In some cases climate conditions can make a hunting dog's job that much more difficult. The Beagle's perseverance in tracking game makes him a great companion for hunters in the field.
Energy: Hunting trips often start very early and last until the sun goes down. A hunting dog must have the energy to keep up the pace. Beagles are almost always ready to run.
Alert: When out in the field, a hunting dog must know what is going on at all times so that other hunters don't mistake him for a game animal, such as a deer. They must also avoid potential danger with larger animals. Beagles are not only alert, they are intelligent—the perfect combination for a good hunting dog.
Beagles are loyal, energetic little dogs that hunt intensely with all their heart. But your Beagle can be just as happy in the backyard as long as he has regular exercise and a loving owner.
Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.
The benefits of play
Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:
Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.
How to play with your dog
There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.
When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.
When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.
Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!