Beagles are loving companions and family dogs but have a reputation for not being good listeners. They were originally bred to be active hunting dogs and their sense of smell is rated with the top ranking scent hounds. They need lots of exercise and get along with all age groups. Beagles are perfect for a family that is going to spend time with their dog and keep him busy. A bored Beagle can get up to all kinds of mischief! Beagles can be stubborn. If they catch the scent of something interesting, they will be very focused on following the trail of the wonderful smell they have picked up. Beagles need patient training for obedience when they are young, and socializing is always important for family dogs. Beagles are inquisitive dogs and will not want to listen if they are busy investigating an exciting new smell.
The Root of the Behavior
Beagles make wonderful companions, but do need stimulation and exercise because they are curious and intelligent. The Beagle is a scent hound and has been described as ‘a nose with feet.’ A Beagle loves to be taken out on walks, but it is advisable to keep him on a leash if you are not in an enclosed area. When a Beagle gets the scent of something interesting, his nose will dictate what his body is going to do. He will need patient obedience training and he responds well to food rewards. His nose is his most important sensory detector and he has approximately 220 million scent receptors compared to the 5 million that humans have. Sniffing and smelling to track and trace is important to Beagles. Their sharp sense of smell has led Beagles to be used as sniffer dogs at airports. They are good at sniffing out illegal items and at the same time they are friendly and non-threatening around crowds at airports.
Beagles will get bored if left alone to their own devices. They are explorers and may not return when you call them as they are probably on the trail of something more interesting. Beagles are good climbers and love to explore. They will not give up an exciting chase when you call them and don’t listen when you want to bring them back to your side. They need plenty of consistent training to get them to listen and follow instructions, especially if they have found something better to do. Beagles are independent dogs that don’t always care to listen to trainers. Consistent training with real rewards are needed to change your Beagle's way of thinking. They are born to hunt and use their skills to follow their prey as they pick up the scent of the animal they are tracking. Beagles are true hounds and their noses and the scent they may be following will keep their attention focused on something else. They may not feel they should listen to you.
Encouraging the Behavior
Beagles are smart dogs, they are problem solvers, but not necessarily good listeners. Although they are intelligent, they are single-minded and if they are part of a chase, then the chase will be all important. Beagles did not rank very well in the intelligence testing aimed at working dogs. The tests did not give credit to dogs with independence and creativity. These traits are the Beagle's strengths. They may not respond well to commands but can problem solve and make up their own minds. Beagles use their intelligence to get out of situations and are well known as escape artists. It is advisable to have controlled fencing and frequent outings to keep a curious Beagle out of mischief.
Older Beagles are not as energetic as their younger counterparts, although family walks will always get their interest up and running. A Beagle on a leash is the best bet on a family walk. If your Beagle picks up the scent of something interesting, he will be off and may not listen to your call for him to return. Dogs like the Beagle, who are members of the hound group, are bred to be part of a chase and get excited about running after something when they are out and about. Your training to get a Beagle to listen will need to cover the recall command very thoroughly. If you give chase to a Beagle, he is going to think you are part of the game and listening to your command will not be on his agenda!
Other Solutions and Considerations
Beagles are comical, but have minds of their own. Snoopy, the Beagle cartoon character, has managed to capture many of the Beagles familiar characteristics. He is very sociable and loves his human companion Charlie and Charlie’s friends. Snoopy is playful and enjoys team sports. He practices his football skills, but is disappointed that he is unable to find other players! He says in his football cartoon, “My problem is I can never find twenty-one other Beagles!” He is portrayed as enjoying his food and loving children as he gives out ‘kisses’ to Charlie’s friend Marcie. Beagles are loyal companions and if they don’t listen they do like to come home and spend time with their families. When Snoopy and Charlie are reunited they hug, dance, and Charlie says: “Happiness is having your dog come home!” Even if the Beagle is not a good listener, he is an endearing pet and will always be a great family dog, joining in all your family activities.
The Beagle, although he doesn’t listen, will climb into your heart. He ensures you pay attention to him with his interesting vocal chords. Beagles use their vocals in different howls and baying exercises. "Dog Song," a collection of poems written by Mary Oliver, are inspired by nature and she wrote, “What would the world be like without music, or rivers, or the green tender grass? What would this world be without dogs?" Inviting a Beagle into your home, despite his poor listening skills, will open your eyes to the delights of nature and a love of dogs.