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Off-leash Beagle stereotype?

54690 Views 30 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  BeagleBuddy
Beagles off-leash: I've heard conflicting information from all over and I'd like to hear from real experience.

This is referring to controlled environments - dog parks, acreages etc. - and not everyday walking down the street.

I've heard different things from different people, from a local breeder saying "NEVER let your Beagle off-leash if you ever want to see it again!" to an obedience trainer offering to do focussed training off-leash.

Then I've also heard that Beagles are stubborn and near impossible to train, and that has been absolutely untrue with ours so far.

The way I see it, a Beagle needs exercise. The best exercise happens off-leash, and without a huge fenced yard, the dog park is the best place to get it. This is in combination with frequent training and callbacks even when he's doing everything fine.

Our experience has been at dog parks and Benny hasn't scampered off yet, never to be seen again. He's good about making sure we're within sight and coming with us when we call "Let's go!" Of course there are times when he's too busy playing with new friends to bother listening, but I'm not sure if that's a Beagle thing or a puppy thing. And we make sure to call him back every so often to remind him we're still here, with treats, and knowing his "rebellious" stage is coming up so we may have to leash him while we get him to listen.

Still, it gets me worried when I have someone say to me "You shouldn't be doing that with a Beagle!"
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4 1/2 mo old Cassie starts obedience training Monday. By lucky chance I found trainers who use the Koehler method of training used by law enforcement and military dog trainers. In fact the 3 trainers belong to the Sheriff Dept and train their K9 dogs with this method. Part of the training includes off leash training. I will be amazed if Cassie will behave since she is an escape artist but that is the purpose of training obedience off-leash--that comes in week two...Ill wear my running shoes if she goes deaf..haha. I will report on hers and my progress. Found this link to the Koehler website. :run:
The Koehler Method of Dog Training, koehlerdogtraining.com Home
I never gave Dillon the chance to be off leash when we're out of my fenced yard. He may be ok but I'm chicken!
I let Lucy off leash in 2 different dog parks and both times she found a gap in the fence and almost escaped. Now if I let her off I watch her like a hawk cause I am a nervous mommy.
Austin has always been awesome at the off leash park, but little Jackson is still just learning- I think that you can teach them to behave off leash, but it is best to go to a securely fenced location while you are training.
Hunter is always off leash in a fenced dog park, and we have been doing a little off leash on our hikes in the forest which are going well, unless she catches the sent of another dog
I have seen a beagle off leash in my neighborhood. She walks about 1 to 10 feet onto any adjoining yard or on the sidewalk. She is well behaved and aware of where her master is at all times. I think she is 5 or 6 years old. But, that isn't my beagle.


We actually all know the answer to this question. Beagles like to explore with their noses. And, their probiscus distracts them. If a beagles attention is diverted away from their owner, they can lose their way. A lost beagle is ripe to get hit by a car... etc.

That being said, if my beagle runs out the front door - something she has trouble refraining from when there are guests... I still have a few commands that limit her sojourn:

1. The emergency word - no matter where she is this word brings her back to me.

2. When she hears the commands - stop, sit and down command. She usually responses - unless.

The trouble is once my beagle races outside - she believes any behavior afterwards is just a big game. So, if I loose my cool (which I have done) it just spurs her on - and she further ignores me.

There is a dog park nearby that is situated in a culdesac. Once a week the dog park is closed. Then people have their dogs outside playing in a field-like area. My beagle has been very good in these type of situations.

However, it would be wonderful if she could walk on the sidewalk like my neighbor's beagle. Ah, the grass is always greener where my beagle hasn't pee'd...
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I dont buy in to the crap of never letting them off leash, because they will not return. How the heck do hunters use them then?

Id never let any dog offleash, of any breed with out training, and working up to offleash.

We walk daily offleash in the woods all around us. Solo wears a bell so i can hear him.

Like any dog it takes training and being consistant. I still carry treats for my 2 boys (almost 2 and 9 year old collie) and when they come up to me on their own, with out me calling them, they get a treat. same as when I call them back, treat. So if Iam caught off guard for some reason (they dart outside. which they dont, but you never know) I know they will come back.
Thanks for the input everyone, it's no less confusing but I think it comes down to the dog and the commitment put into it.
LAD85 said:
How the heck do hunters use them then?

Id never let any dog offleash, of any breed with out training, and working up to offleash.
I suppose it's better off for the breeder to say "never let your dog off-leash!" to cover the majority of people who would otherwise assume their dog will be like a retriever or a herder, and always want to be with their people.

Benny and I have done lots of training together before we went to the dog park for the first time, and I hope not to be proven wrong in putting my trust in him but I will always be prepared for the worst with lifelong training, a handy leash, the best smelly treats, and eternal vigilance.
My grandfather had a place we called "the farm", but we never farmed it. He went there on weekends and hunting season. It was a big old house surrounded by Pennyslvania State Forest land. We owned 100 acres. Anyway he was a hunter and he hunted his Beagles and they never got missing. However, several times over the years OTHER people's Beagles would turn up at our place. Luckily they had collars with tags-I remember many came from Maryland. Anyway, he said that was common with Beagles. They'd be out chasing rabbits or whatever, and just lose all track of everything, including how to get back where they came from! So apparently that IS a Beagle trait-these lost dogs were all hunting Beagles. And these couldn't have been dogs that got dumped after hunting season either, because they all had tags which enabled him to track the owner.
i posted on here just over just over a year ago saying "will i ever have the confidence to let her off the lead" - that seems soooo long ago, and things have changed so much for us well me actually:D Poppy is always off the lead:D:D Well that is apart from on the road but away from traffic she runs in fields off lead (we dont have dog parks in this country!) well not where i live anyway. She loves playing with other dogs and running about sniffing etc, still have to watch her where rabbits :rabbit: are concerned - but usually we walk the other way and she comes running 99% of the time anyway. Saying all this it will be just my luck for her to do the opposite tomorrow. I also find with her you could walk her for 20 miles on a lead and she will not be tired but a good 20 minutes running off lead in a field and she will sleep all day:zzz: Also I always carry treats and she always gets one when she comes back after being called.
Let's clarify. Of course beagles can be off leash in rural or wooded areas. That's because the area for safety and recall is pretty vast.

The issue in this thread - I believe, relates to off-leash exploits in urban and suburban areas. Here, the Woodhouse Way of getting a tight heel - off leash - is in my estimation difficult for most beagles and beagle owners to achieve.

It is hard to get a beagle to stay close on the sidewalk and not meander into traffic. Successfully walking a beagle off leash in this environment is the epitome of training.

My beagle is trained better than most - but I am loathe to walk her off leash on a sidewalk, next to traffic. Until, I get trained better - and then she does, my girl will be staying on leash for all her urban and suburban walks.
Brilliant clarification of this this thread Bailey....
Bailey Star's Dad said:
The issue in this thread - I believe, relates to off-leash exploits in urban and suburban areas....

It is hard to get a beagle to stay close on the sidewalk and not meander into traffic. Successfully walking a beagle off leash in this environment is the epitome of training.
True enough. It's like every direction is a cornucopia of new smells and they have to take them all in at once! Serious heeling is a challenge I'm up to but it will take persistence and patience and be limited to situations I can control - like obedience class or the backyard.
From the original post:
Mrs. Archer said:
This is referring to controlled environments - dog parks, acreages etc. - and not everyday walking down the street.
I don't expect to ever be able to walk Benny in the city streets without his leash. On top of being scary (I've heard way too many horror stories of dogs running into traffic or unexpectedly attacking people while the owner looks on in horror, helpless to stop them) it carries a fine where I live, and I would consider it rude.

The only exception is, it would be nice to go to a regular park and let him romp and know he wouldn't leg it through a hole in the fence; I try to limit this to times when there's nobody else around, and put his leash on when someone else shows up. Although this also carries a fine, sometimes it's all we have available and at least he can run with less risk of getting hit by traffic.

So the purpose of the thread was to see whether it's reasonable to expect that he'll be able to listen in those kinds of situations - as the general attitude towards Beagles is that my expectations are unattainable!
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I wouldn't say unattainable. It's about knowing your dog's characteristics and habits. Every individual dog is different, even when it comes to Beagles. Now mine is typical Beagle, an explorer and easily sidetracked on Squirrels, cats, other dogs and that is even with lots of training. I'm always confident to let Kunu roam in a controlled fenced dog park setting but that is the extent of his off leash. Even when we hike at the park or hit the lake, Kunu is tethered to someone. My father has let him off leash at his house in the country but had to go track him down to bring him back. His recall is not even close to 100 and I'm not sure we will get there for a year or so since he's still in his puppy phase. But that's not every case.

Some of those hunters that a previous poster talked about, some put GPS trackers on their Beagles so if they get lost on a scent, they can find them.
Total Recall - Not Just A Schwarzenegger Movie...

I believe close to 100% recall is possible with a beagle. I get about 90%. I've practiced in fields, dog parks, in the back yard with near perfect success. This isn't only my anecdotal experience, but pretty easily attained by every dog owner. The only caveat is because the command works so well - be very careful of it's use in urban and suburban areas. Your beagle will make a bee-line to you and could get hit by a car.

First, some beagle breed specific observations. Beagles are the type of dog that are Benefit Driven. So, the command "come" sometimes has little meaning. You know that blank beagle stare when you've said one or another command. They look at you like "no - I don't see a treat or a ball or anything I really want in your hand, so I think I'll just stand here and ignore you."

Being - Benefit Driven - getting a beagle to do a command actually means teaching a beagle two or three alternative commands in order to achieve the same thing. The beagle of course, does not know that the other commands achieve the same goal. They are just doing the one they like over the one which at that moment they chose to ignore.

Parents of human children remember a version of this approach, when they asked their child a question like, "do you want to take a nap OR play with your brother?" The point of the question was to limit behavior and illicit a response that conforms to the confines of the parent's question.

With a beagle, "come" is but one command in an owner's training arsenal to bring the dog to you. Next, try "touch me" - which brings the dog to you and has them lick your hand.

Now, if you are like me - a natural born cynic - you are thinking, okay but the difficult recall situations usually involve my beagle's attention being drawn by another animal, something gross or dangerous. The beagle doesn't hear me... when do I do then?

Well - besides reinforcing the existing commands of "come" and "touch me" - the one command that I believe is the most important command to any beagle or dog owner (for that matter) is the Emergency Word. This command will simply save a dog's life - especially a beagles. It's kept mine from danger on already a half dozen occasions.

The best part of the Emergency Word is that it is simple. And, the beagle like Pavlov's dog - reacts on an almost automatic level. The best training is where a dog understands and can accomplish a command easily, wants to do the command and looks forward to the benefit as a result of completing the command.

Now the almost idiotically simple mechanics of the Emergency Word. Pick any unusual word you can remember that you do not use in normal conversation. I use the word SHMUTZ (a yiddish word for dirt). A foreign language word like AGITA (an italian word for indigestion or agitation) works well too. Do not pick an Emergency Word like "come" or "here". That's because the point of this word is that it is very special. The word is only ever uttered for the purpose of training this specific command or in an emergency. It is not used in any other situation - or like Kryptonite with Superman, it loses all its power and effectiveness.

Shout the word - yup, shout it out - loud, then give your dog the most delicious treat they ever had - one you otherwise never feed your dog. And praise your dog profusely. Pat them and tickle them - get them extremely excited and happy about their achievement.

The special treat I give my beagle is a tiny piece of a hot dog, steak or roasted chicken. Believe me - this will get your dog's undivided attention. Over a weeks time repeat the Emergency Word command two or three more times - putting distance between yourself and your dog. Place obstacles in their path; say the command when they are out of sight - so they have to search for you.

Don't overdue the command - three times a week should be fine. In two weeks - you will have provided yourself and your dog - the most important tool against losing your beagle in an open field. Your dog should come to you 90% of the time. Keep in mind - this is an emergency recall command. If overused - this command will become like "come". Then your beagle may simply look at you, then decide whether they want to come. With the Emergency Word - the command's response should be damn near automatic.

Try the Emergency Word command in an expansive area that is still enclosed - like a baseball, soccer or hockey field. Let your dog meander away from you then shout the word! They will spin on a dime and run back.

Now, I've had a situation in a dog park - where my beagle was getting into a tussle. She didn't respond immediately to the Emergency Word - it took two or three times uttering it But, her focus changed and she eventually came to me. It may have been - all the noise that prevented her from coming as she didn't hear me, or the fact that I don't regularly practice the word enough to keep her sharp.

I keep looking for situations where there are distractions that aren't dangerous but are captivating for her. Places to hone our Emergency Word skills.
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Leash laws are different depending on where you live. Some places have them others don't. One size doesn't fit all.

We have leash free beaches where I live. And there are parks with and without leash restrictions.

No one is advocating breaking leash laws.

I look at it this way, not having a dog who is trained to be off-leash, equals a much greater likelihood of trauma or tragedy, than having a dog able to walk on-leash or off-leash. The off-leash training is part of being an model canine citizen.

Also an Emergency Word recall method has nothing to do with leashes. It is used to recall a dog who has run free for any number of reasons.
I would suggest to just KNOW your Beagle!! If you are comfortable with letting him off lead knowing that he will return EACH and EVERYTIME you call, then by all means let them run till their tounges fall out :)

I've had mixed results and always check my surroundings when hes off. But I will NEVER let him off in an unfamiliar place or a place where theres traffic unless its in an enclosed area. The times when he didnt return on call have all been when his nose was to the ground and he had gotten a good jump on me. I considered it lessons learned on my behalf. Maybe when hes older and too slow to chase rabbits and squirrels he'll be off lead more, but for now hes fine being let off occasionally.
Honestly. I break the leash law every day. Dogs are to be on a 6 foot leash when in public here, unless in the dog park, or your property. If my dogs had to be on a leash for walks, well they would never get proper excersise. I dont let them off in busy areas. Just the woods around here, where 99% of the people out there also have dogs offleash. if i run in to some one walking with a dog on leash or no dog. I call both of mine and leash them, or have them sit stay until people pass.
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