Basset Hounds are notoriously amicable, not usually a mean bone in their body, and are highly food motivated, which tends to result in anything but a lean dog. But they are scent hounds, bred for hunting, and have a keen nose and hunting instinct. Basset hounds are excellent at picking up a scent and tracking it to locate game. Many Basset owners use them to hunt rabbits, as they are great at picking up the trail and highly motivated to follow it. Due to their short stature, they tend to be used to hunt small game rather than large game, and when used to hunt prey such as rabbits they can be ideal as they will not be able to chase the rabbit to closely or catch it. This will result in the rabbit usually running in a circle, as rabbits are in the habit of doing, back to the starting location, where a hunter can then shoot the rabbit or rabbits can be allowed to escape, as is the case in hunting trials and competitions.
Your Basset hound will happily locate and chase a rabbit almost of his own accord, with little training and external motivation required. What is required is attention to the handler, so that your Basset hound follows direction and focuses on a fresh rabbit trail and not an old trail, or some other animal's trail. Larger, faster dogs tend to chase a rabbit so closely that they cause the rabbit to bolt down a hole or into cover, or they will catch and kill the rabbit. When hunting rabbits with Basset hounds, the goal is for your dog to chase the rabbit so it loops back in a circle towards to waiting hunters. The Basset Hound is usually far enough back from the rabbit that the rabbit can then be safely shot by hunters, or in competitions the rabbit will be allowed to escape because the dogs are judged on their scenting and trailing abilities, not catching ability. Basset Hounds are often trained to hunt rabbits in packs of 2-6 dogs. Young dogs may be started scenting and getting interested in rabbits but hunting may need to wait until the dog is mature enough to obey commands and focus on a single scent.
Your Basset hound will need to have established good obedience and off lead commands. Basset hounds can be later than some other breeds to master these skills, as they can be stubborn and easily distractible. Each hound is different, and a good knowledge of your Basset hound's personality and abilities is required before taking him out in the field. To train rabbit hunting with your Basset Hound, a starting pen with live rabbits is ideal. A dead rabbit or pelt with scent can also be used to create scent trails for your Basset to follow. A tracking collar may be a useful tool to protect your Basset on field hunts in case he becomes distracted and separated from you or the rest of the hunting pack. There are Basset hound hunting organizations in most areas that can be contacted to find other hounds and hunters that can assist in training, trials, and active hunting. Contacting your local organization is an excellent resource before getting started.