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is a Beagle a good fit for us?

2688 Views 15 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  feh
Hi folks.

After 3 years without a dog, we brought home a 2 year old Beagle from a rescue shelter yesterday. We're trying to determine if he's going to work out in our home.

He's got a lot going for him - he's very friendly...he's good with kids (we have a 9 year old son)...he's good with other dogs...he's a cuddler (which makes my wife happy)...he seems intelligent..he's cute as hell.

As for the potential problems:

* When he's on a leash, his nose takes over every ounce of his being. He follows whatever scent he picks up. Constant tugging on the leash.
* We don't have a fenced yard, and if he were off leash outside, he'd be gone, chasing whatever scent he picked up (we live in a rural subdivision; plenty of animal smells around). He seems so single-minded, I don't know if he'd return if he got away.

Putting in an invisible fence is an option for the second issue, although that wouldn't solve anything if we took him elsewhere with us, such as to a relative's house, or anyplace else that isn't fenced.

My wife would like to take him for walks with her, but unless he could be taught to heel, it wouldn't be enjoyable for her. We also have a dog park nearby where we'd like to take him off leash, but at this point, I get the impression he'd just take off, and we'd be trying to chase him down.

Our previous dog was a Springer Spaniel, and these weren't issues. He would roam a bit, but always would return to us.

Any comments or suggestions? Is it possible to train a Beagle to heel? Can they be trained to stay within X yards of their owner when off leash?

We can return him to the shelter within one week of adoption.

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I added this after I wrote everything else because it is very important and needs definite attention -
<span style="text-decoration: underline">OBEDIENCE CLASS!</span>
I think most Beagle owners will agree with this. Shiloh B. is a Canine Good Citizen and a registered therapy dog with Delta Society - he is a favorite with those we visit at the nursing home.

Hello and welcome to BW. Did the rescue say anything about having a fenced yard - they should have. It sounds like they did a lousy job of educating you about Beagles which is only doing the breed a great dis-service - maybe that's why they allowed for the week to get to know the dog.

Don't get me wrong - like many other Beagle owners, I'm hooked on Beagles and when it comes to owning another breed, I've got blinders on for the most part. And this may sound like I am trying to change your mind - Beagles aren't for everyone - mainly for the reason you stated - his nose. I have the same problem with my oldest - Shiloh B. I know that he believes he is God's gift to the hunter - or he would be if I hunted, which I don't. Beagles as a breed, have been bred for centuries to hunt - in fact that is why the breed was developed. That white tip on their tail - you should see that in all purebred Beagles - why; it is said that it was part of the breed's development so that the dog would be easier seen by the hunter in the field. Ok - enuf history.

Some (and I mean only a few) people can get their Beagles trained to go off leash - most, including me, people would NEVER allow it. Shiloh B. has gotten away from me a few times - I don't know if he would eventually come home - I've never had that situation come up. However I do know that he, and many other Beagles develop selective hearing loss when he is on a scent - you might as well save your breath because all he cares about is that scent.

But PLEASE!, do NOT let anyone convince you that Beagles are dumb and cannot learn. Most everyone here in BW along with most Beagle owners will tell you that Beagles are some of the most intelligent dogs alive today. However they do learn differently then other breeds and they require patience. When I got my first Beagle as an 8 week old pup (also Shiloh B.), I had raised a few puppies before, had dogs most of my life - but Beagles are unlike any other breed. I learned a lot with him and he is part of the reason I now have Shasta B., my second Beagle (and his niece by breeding). Shasta B. will undergo her test for Canine Good Citizen test and therapy dog test this fall.

I have to go for now - I'm sure you will get lots more helpful info from other members. There are so many good things about owning Beagles - they are great dogs for children, especially the age of yours. They are great snugglers like your wife has found out, you can walk them - it takes work and a rescue dog may need a little extra time.


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My beagle mix heels beautifully. But I was firm from day 1 with that, and had some experience with difficult dogs. And although his mix (shepherd) makes him a little more willing than most purebred beags I've known, he does have the beagle nose! It has taken a lot of work for me to feel comfortable with Henry off leash, so I believe it can be done. Thank you so much for rescuing this guy! With training and the right attitude it can be done!
I have my first beagle and he is 5 months old, so my experience will be very different from yours!

Off leash...not bloomin' likely! LOL Seriously, I would never trust Rocky off leash, even though we have had him since he was 7 weeks and he's very family oriented. We don't have a fenced yard. We have a stake you twist into the gound and a 20ft cable tie out. It can go anywhere with us. He likes it well enough too.
Walks...well, in my experience with Rocky I do best to let him have his sniff fest for the first half of the walk (it's slow going I tell ya!) and then, because he's a bit tired, he walks nicer with less pulling and listens better. As for the pulling on the leash, when Rocky pulls I just stop dead in my tracks and he will, within a couple of minutes, either come back to me or sit and wait until I come to him and say let's go. He has had a couple of periods where that wouldn't work so I would turn about quickly and go the other direction, then he would have to follow. When he would pull again, about face...I kept doing it and eventually he got the hint that I was in charge of the walk, not him. I have tried heeling a few times, but he's just too intent on sniffing so I personally have decided to forgo it and just be sure that he will go where I want, stop on command, and not pull on the leash. In the very beginning I used Cheerios as a training treat and worked on him coming and sitting beside me with a clucking and a kissing sound. He would get a treat when he did it and looked up at me. I did it at unexpected times and for no particular reason. It worked like a charm and he's really good at it, with or without a treat!

I hope this helps...
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I had problems with Corey on leash, to the point of I end up with two pulled arm muscles and a sprained knee before I said enough was enough. I got him head harness and as long as he has it on he walks beautifully right next to me. Well the beautiful part took some training but it got him to stop pulling like crazy.
I have a rescue Beagle and had the same problem with the heeling. What are you walking yours in? I used a prong coller for awhile and now have switched to an easy walk harness and now Colby walks wonderfully. I would also suggest talking your dog to an obedience class. You will be surprised at how much that will help.
With consistent work, it is possible to train a beagle to heel, or at least walk without pulling. I don't think it's possible to train a beagle to not run off when they catch a scent. At least 99% of them, anyway. I have a rescue beagle, and I hate it that she can never be off leash.
Thanks for the replies everybody.

Any comments on invisible fences? Would that allow us to let him outside without worry about him getting away?
Invisible fences can be very effective. Alternatively, some dogs are clever enough to get 'around' them. But the greatest drawback to them, I believe, is the fact that they don't keep other animals out of your yard. That's what would make your beagle bolt across it. Just my two cents lol.
My beagle walks on a loose leash and does great formal heelwork, so it is possible to train.

However, and without wanting to sound harsh, IMO a beagle is not for you if you can't keep it contained to a yard.

Beagles are scent hounds, therefore their strongest instinct is to scent. Part of being a responsible dog owner is containing your dog to your property safely.
I have no experience with an invisible fence, but from reading Beagles-on-the-web, the Kramers have one around their property and it doesn't always work. They have a real fence for the yard, and an invisible one for the rest of the property. If a beagle get's a good scent, they will take the shock in order to follow it. Problem is they may not be willing to take it on the return trip. Unless you have a beagle that doesn't have a strong tracking instinct, it will not work. Even then, as moentioned before, it doesn't stop animals from entering your yard. One good bunny or cat in your yard and you may never see your beagle again.

On a personal note, I just spent the money to put a fence up at my new house. Yes it is expensive, but the peace of mind is worth it. I put up a vinyl fence, but even a cheap chain link will do.
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Chain link is not always safe with a beagle. My small (11) beagle can both climb and jump my 4' chain link fence! I had to add stuff to the top of the fence to keep her in. Thankfully, she is not a digger. A friend of mine from the dog park has a digging beagle, and she had to put a row of pavers all along the perimiter of her fence.
Back to me - I also have a chainlink fence but thank goodness neither of my Beagles are climbers - HOWEVER, I do have the opposite problem - Shiloh B. is a avid digger. I soon learned tho that Beagles - if they don't get the desired result in say 15 minutes or so, will try somewhere else. I had to resort to putting in rebar - weaving it through a couple of links then pounding it into the ground, leaving enough in the fence to hold the fence down but I wanted enuf in the ground to provide that barrier. Shiloh B. has now learned that his mama wants him to stay within that fence cause he rarely tries to dig out and when he does look like he is trying - he's not, he's just digging. Shasta B. has never really tried except when she sees Shiloh B. - usually it is just to imitate what he is doing and not trying to get out.

Oh and I have no experience with an electric fence - would not have one for the reasons stated. Maybe you could control the dog to stay in the yard but can't control what else mite come into the yard - not just wild critters like rabbits but also other dogs that could cause trouble, maybe even scare your dog to leave the yard - not good.
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I have found that once obedience training takes place, my beagle has gotten out of the fence, but when I go looking for her, and find her, she knows she is in trouble and I command her to sit, and she does...So, I have always gotten her back. Beagles are completely different then the spaniel family, and may be a little overwhelming at first, but will take some time. Especially since your beaglet was rescued, there are some habits need broken. i strongly suggest you start with obedience classes. Give the pup a chance, beagle are the best dog ever. They are our lives!
Me again - I just wanted to add something here then I'll TRY to leave it alone. Reading back over all the responses, it almost sounds like we are trying to discourage you from keeping your little Beagle friend - well, in a way maybe we are. We are all avid Beagle owners and strong Beagle fans. Most, if not all, have heard of or actually seen some of the horrors that can happen to our happy little hounds simply because the dog is being nothing more than true to his/her breeding. Yes, there are challenges in owning a Beagle but the rewards are so great and as the Beagle grows and matures, these rewards become much more. Should you make the decision to keep your friend - we won't try and sugar coat it - there will be challenges and you will find yourself wondering whatever possessed you to do that - we all have those times but like I said, give the Beagle time with you, do your homework as well as the dog do their homework, and you can have one great companion. And besides that, we all understand the challenges, the frustrations and we all know the joy and great excitement in having one (or more) of these merry little hounds in our midst - whatever you decide - you couldn't find a better group of people who will be here for you.

Ok - that all may have sounded a little sappy but it all true. Bak to work I go........
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Thanks for the replies everybody.

Just for a quick update - he really is a fabulous dog. Loving and smart. He fits in really well with our family.

It's just this one problem (and it is a big problem) of not being able to have him off leash.

We still have a couple days to think about it, but at this point we are leaning toward not keeping him. I've read that invisible fences cannot be trusted to keep a beagle contained, and we simply aren't willing to put up a physical fence.

As much as we like him, if we can't keep him contained and safe, we probably shouldn't have him.
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