Beagle hunting rabbits

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Beagle hunting rabbits

This is a discussion on Beagle hunting rabbits within the Working Dogs forums, part of the Dog Shows and Performance category; I have had my beagle for 4 years and we bought him purely as a companion, not to hunt with. I really have no knowledge ...

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Old 06-23-2016, 07:21 AM
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Beagle hunting rabbits

I have had my beagle for 4 years and we bought him purely as a companion, not to hunt with. I really have no knowledge of how beagles hunt but figure I ought to know. We recently moved to an area with a high volume of rabbits and squirrels. His natural instincts are in high drive like I've never seen before (why do beagles need trained to hunt if it's their instinct?)

I have seen my beagle countless times now slowly stalk a rabbit, then give chase, while screech-barking (hilarious). He gets so much excitement out of it. Unfortunately I have to keep him leashed or he probably wouldn't come back. So he never gets to really chase. I wish I could let him fulfill his natural desire to chase, really curious whether or not he would catch one.

How do hunters ensure their beagles will not get lost and come back? Is there something I can do for fun to explore this side of my beagle?
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Old 06-23-2016, 09:05 AM
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He may very well be able to catch one. On a hike a few weeks back, my Cocker mix caught a freaking turkey. He's super high drive too.

I've never trained hunting dogs before but I do think a large part of the training is impulse control/recall. Most you don't just aim them at the creature and have them go wild; typically you want them to work WITH you. I think Beagles are more helpful with tracking anyway than actual killing themselves...just like I think Cockers are supposed to just flush the birds out and not actually try to make a meal out of any of them. But try telling that to Chisum

You could probably read some books on it, but if you have barn hunt in your area that might be a fun thing for both of you to do. It would engage his sense of smell and prey drive.

If you're more serious about hunting, maybe there's a hunt club somewhere nearby?
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Old 06-23-2016, 10:47 AM
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He may very well be able to catch one. On a hike a few weeks back, my Cocker mix caught a freaking turkey. He's super high drive too.

I've never trained hunting dogs before but I do think a large part of the training is impulse control/recall. Most you don't just aim them at the creature and have them go wild; typically you want them to work WITH you. I think Beagles are more helpful with tracking anyway than actual killing themselves...just like I think Cockers are supposed to just flush the birds out and not actually try to make a meal out of any of them. But try telling that to Chisum

You could probably read some books on it, but if you have barn hunt in your area that might be a fun thing for both of you to do. It would engage his sense of smell and prey drive.

If you're more serious about hunting, maybe there's a hunt club somewhere nearby?
Way to go, Chisum!

I will research barn hunts and see what it's all about. I, myself, don't really care about hunting, I just love to see my pup exhibiting such raw instinct. It's a new side of him.

I think some hunters also use GPS tracking and shock collar systems, but that is very expensive and not something I'd want to get into. I could always buy a real-fur lure-type toy and have him chase and catch it I suppose. but I'd love to be able to get a rabbit in a fenced in yard and let my dog chase it without worrying about him getting loose and losing him. My bf thinks I'm so cruel that I would do that to a rabbit. Not sure if I'm a monster or not but rabbits are so plentiful.

During our morning walks we usually pass at least 3 rabbits in random yards. I'll sometimes try to run towards one WITH my beagle just for fun, but that almost had me ending up in a giant bush with my dog

Brody could be in a deep sleep and if I say the words "bunny" "squirrel" or "cat" he jumps up with so much wild enthusiasm, and runs to the window, lol. I should get a video of that sometime
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Old 06-24-2016, 09:21 AM
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I also have a beagle but he has 0 prey drive lol. I swear he thought my guinea pigs were baby puppies, he loved them XD (though, just to be safe, we never let them actually interact without a boundary).

I think part of the fun of the hunt is the actual, well, hunt though. I don't think it would be much of a game if the rabbit was just trapped in a yard... that's just letting your dog kill another animal for fun, which doesn't sit well with me personally. Then again, I also feel that it's fine to hunt, but only for food and not "game" in general. But anyways, I assume that part of the excitement is that the dog has to outsmart whatever it is tracking, and that aspect would be taken away if the animal was just trapped.

If you're really interested though, definitely look for hunting clubs. I'm sure they can give you more pointers!
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Old 06-25-2016, 06:07 AM
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I'm not really going to trap a rabbit in a yard, it was just a thought but to be fair if he did ever catch one, I'd learn how to skin and cook it for him.

I could deal with losing my dog to some disease or old age but if I ever lost him because he ran off I would never be able to accept that, so I'm not really sure what pointers they could give me...he won't be able to catch anything if kept on a leash. I appreciate the tip though!
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Old 06-25-2016, 09:03 AM
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You answered your own question of 'why do they need to be trained to hunt?' With being unsure about being able to catch the dog!

Hounds are trained to obey the Huntsman, to listen for the different calls on the hunting horn.

In the UK when hound pups are weaned they are usually 'walked' by followers of the hunt. Te pups go to the walkers home and when they are around six - twelve months they return to the Hunt for training. (The length of time they stay with the walkers depends on how long it takes for instinct to kick in and they go hunting on their own!)

At the Hunt Kennels most exercising is done either on foot or with the hunt staff on bikes. The new entry (pups) are coupled with an older steady hound, this means they are collared and a short metal chain of about six inches, links the pair together.

The cries he is emitting when he is on a line (hunting) are natural, when a hound finds a scent it will call out to the rest of the pack to let them know that a scent has been found.

In the UK Beagles hunt hares, though that is now not legal.

As for catching, yes they can and will, and kill the prey though rabbits usually die of fright.

My dogs will all catch rabbits, the GSD will kill immediately, the Pointer will shake it like a rag doll and the Lab will bring it back to me alive.
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Old 06-25-2016, 06:58 PM
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I've had a Beagle companion for almost 20 years (Joe, my first one passed on after 14 years of delightful behavior). One thing about Beagles is certain: they are full of surprises. Knowing they were bred for hunting, two things are clear: The breeders wanted a dog with a very loud bark so they could locate them during the hunt. A secondary requirement was a white tipped tail so they could be spotted visually. Both my Beagles had an ear shattering bark that produced an echo when inside the house and was not necessarily favored by neighbors when outside. And of course the constant wagging of the white tipped tail is a joy. The Beagle is a wonderful animal and I am so thankful for the blessing of having one at my side.
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Old 06-26-2016, 05:47 AM
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I've had a Beagle companion for almost 20 years (Joe, my first one passed on after 14 years of delightful behavior). One thing about Beagles is certain: they are full of surprises. Knowing they were bred for hunting, two things are clear: The breeders wanted a dog with a very loud bark so they could locate them during the hunt. A secondary requirement was a white tipped tail so they could be spotted visually. Both my Beagles had an ear shattering bark that produced an echo when inside the house and was not necessarily favored by neighbors when outside. And of course the constant wagging of the white tipped tail is a joy. The Beagle is a wonderful animal and I am so thankful for the blessing of having one at my side.
This comment brought a big smile to my face couldn't have said it better myself. I feel like those that don't own a beagle just simply don't understand the magic of their big personalities. The beagle baying is annoying to most people's ears yet I think it's so adorable and can't help but laugh at the way their mouth/lips curl to make the sound.
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Old 08-02-2016, 08:55 PM
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note, make sure you check your game laws. Here in MN it's legal to shoot any dog chasing deer which is true in most states. Many states include chasing any game animal out-of-season. Same goes if the dog is harassing livestock.

Even without a leash you are responsible for your dog, for what it does AND for what might happen to it.
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Old 08-04-2016, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by srelizabeth View Post
I have had my beagle for 4 years and we bought him purely as a companion, not to hunt with. I really have no knowledge of how beagles hunt but figure I ought to know. We recently moved to an area with a high volume of rabbits and squirrels. His natural instincts are in high drive like I've never seen before (why do beagles need trained to hunt if it's their instinct?)
All purebred dogs have an instinct for a certain type of work or function, but Beagles are one of a very small number of dogs who actually are not trained for hunting. They simply need experience and to be taught by the hunter and older hounds how to go about the business in the correct way. I train my pups with scent starting around 10-12 weeks, then around 4+ months will start taking them out to the field for experience. They either will or will not have the qualities it takes to make a rabbit dog, and it's up to the hunter to hone them.

Quote:
I have seen my beagle countless times now slowly stalk a rabbit, then give chase, while screech-barking (hilarious). He gets so much excitement out of it. Unfortunately I have to keep him leashed or he probably wouldn't come back. So he never gets to really chase. I wish I could let him fulfill his natural desire to chase, really curious whether or not he would catch one.
He's not hunting, he's giving a sight chase, and barking out of frustration that he cannot get to the bunnies Beagles are expected not only to track the rabbit (or hare), but to do it in a certain way, by following the line of scent. A Beagle needs to be precise, and the pack is faulted for takign shortcuts - i.e., if the rabbit travels from point a, b, c and d, a "cheating" hound might go from point a, to b, then take a shortcut to d, instead of puzzling out the scent. That trait is why Beagles have such a problem solving intelligence. And it's also one of the most important abilities hunters try to hone in young pups.

Quote:
How do hunters ensure their beagles will not get lost and come back? Is there something I can do for fun to explore this side of my beagle?
There are a few ways, and the first starts with genetics. An intractable hound is always, without question, culled from my pack. Independence and complete lack of biddability, or not caring it it's praised or reprimanded, is literally the worst personality trait a dog can have. Personally, I try to keep back hounds that have "selective hearing" but do listen to me in a tight spot and can, to a small extent, prove reliable off leash. I once called my foundation bitch off game that crossed a busy road, and this willing to please trait is in many of her pups. My hounds hunt with me, not for themselves. And I think that makes a slight difference.

There are also things like tracking collars or shock collars that can prevent a dog from getting into a deadly situation if it doesn't come when called back. Accidents will happen even with the best trained dogs, but I think obedience training under distractions and genetics are the best ways to prevent wandering Beagles. Aside from that, they're worn out after a hunt, and many will seek out the owner as if to say "Stick a fork in me, lady (or sir)".

Anyway, that's just my experience.
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