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Training Beagles for Scent Tracking

16751 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Nathayut
We all know how keen Beagles noses are. It can be a curse and a gift all at the same time. But that's what makes them so unique and lovable.

Before we got Bodie I'd never even heard of Field Trials. But coming from a long line of Field Trial Beagles I wanted to learn more about their unique traits. Even though we have no desire to participate in Field Trials, I don't want to ignore his God given gift either, sniff...sniff.

So we've been thinking about how best to utilize this gift. He's so smart it would be a shame to not train him to track something. We've heard about Beagles sniffing out cancer, narcotics, explosives, human remains, termites and just recently Bed Bugs. We saw Radar on an Animal Planet show go into hotel rooms and find Bed Bugs. We were absolutely amazed a dog could find them.

Last week I tied a hot dog to a string and dragged it all around our front and back yards. It was so cool to watch Bodie track the trail dead-on the entire way. I love the sound he makes while sniffing the ground and making his tracking howl/bark.

I'd like to train Bodie to track something. I just don't know what yet. And contrary to what Bodie wants, hot dogs are out of the question. So in the meantime I'd like to learn more about training a dog to track. I wanted to see if any of the forum members have done any such training and if so how. Or if you know of any resources or good books. I found several on Amazon which I'm trying to whittle down.

I did read an older post on Field Trails which was interesting. But I hope I can learn more and explore different ideas.
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My brother mentioned a beagle sniffing his bag during a recent international business trip. We're now hoping to train our dog to do the same and get him a good paying job at our local airport...ah, I kid.

I am interested in learning more about this as I'm looking for ways to continue to bond with our dog.
I think I remember you saying your breeder trains beagles for field work?

If so I would contact him! Your breeder is often the best port of call as they know the breed and work them every day. Training a dog in tracking isn't as easy as you first think and it can be a lengthy training process to get it right.

Are there any tracking or field clubs in your state? I would also contact them for more information
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Brien, here's a link for beagle clubs in California. There is a club in Sacramento, as well as one in Placerville. Either should be a source of good information for you.

I actually emailed the breeder earlier today. I've emailed him before so I'm sure I'll hear back from him soon.

As for the local Beagle club, I emailed the director of one in Sac a week or so ago and never heard back from him. So I guess I'll try again.

I'd keep trying, Brien - or perhaps phoning. The one in Placerville isn't TOO far from you - if you don't hear back from the one in Sacramento. One of my cyber friends in IN was going to take one or two of JoJo/Tanna puppies to train for field trials (he raises and trains field beagles, as well as being a judge for field trials) - both JoJo and Tanna are from long lines of field and international field champs - but unfortunately, their last two litters were not successful. Hopefully Angel and/or Bella will be more successful - tho I think my hopes are more on Angel - since Bella's mom is from show champion lines. A lot depends on whether I can get a male from a field line.
How old is he? If you want a military grade scent-hunting hound. You need to stimulate him earlier (since he was born).

You can start by let him smell a sausage or strong smell treat then throw that on the grass. He will track it down. Do that for a week or two (if he's 8 weeks old) OR more than that if you have older beagle.

I use the word sniff to get them to start tracking and search when they reach object under cover (bush, bags, etc). This way, your beagle will wait for your command everytime before they start sniffing. Guranteed no pull when walking or run around by himself.

After he is good with the training above, you can start draging sausage or strong scent smell on the grass and let him track to it...leave small bits to encourage it on the track if your dog didnt master the command yet.

When you play tug-of-war (you will need this skill if you want him to hunt or attack something), hold a target infront of him while he on wait (not stay. If you use stay, he will stop but wait he will stalk the target). Command Bite or Attack, he will attack it (as a Break command). Then calm him down if he doesnt release the target but if he still hold on to it. Just push the target inward.

Sometime, you will see your dog, sneaking on stuff toy or something. BE SURE, to keep saying Stalk. He will learn that he will sneak to the target and get reward.

Maybe this is enough. My current dog is 12 weeks and can do all that.

p.s. Dewclaws help them grip their prey (like lions), but make sure that they are low enough to touch the ground if not ... just cut it (it's useless).
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Thanks Nathayut, that's some helpful info. Bodie is 4 months old now. So a little older then when you started your pup.

My first order of business will be what you suggested with hiding a hot dog. I did the trail thing with a hot dog and he did very well with that. But he needs to learn the search command and this will be good for that.

I have several books on my Amazon wish list which I'm trying to whittle down to 3 or so. Which is hard because they all sound so good. Since you're pretty knowledgeable on this topic, do you have any recommendations?

Thanks again!
Umm... I use a training instruction from the army. So I can not give you any recommendations on this.

But since you start your puppy at older age. Search command is the first thing you want to teach your puppy.

You can leash your pup and tell him to stay then lay down 3 small handkerchief then put one of a hot dog the handkerchief, make sure that he doesnt know which one you put in. Say the search command while release his leash. Increase level of distraction (use toy or other food).
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