eagles are amazing dogs. They may have the best sense of smell out of any creature on Earth. These loveable pups have incredibly high energy levels so they can run and chase prey, or toys, all day. A beagle can run much further than a human can in a day. Just watching them at home in the yard is enough to wear you out. If that wasn’t enough, they’re also outstanding escape artists who know how to follow their noses, even when you don’t want them to go anywhere. What does that mean for off-leash play and walks?
Can beagles go off-leash? A beagle can learn to walk and play off-leash. It takes more patience than most breed to train beagles off-leash, but it’s achievable. While a beagle’s sensitive nose may tempt and distract them, these smart dogs are born hunters, and they’ve been returning with their catch for centuries.
Beagles Unleashed: The Downside
- Distraction- Beagles are born to follow their superpowered noses. Hence, they get easily distracted when they smell something they want to track.
- Smart- Because they’re very bright, beagles are master escape artists. They dig and can learn all sorts of cunning tricks to get away if they have a scent to chase.
- Stubborn- A beagle who isn’t adequately trained may decide to ignore commands and go where their sniffer says the action is.
- Instinct- Shaming your dog and punishing them for being who they are isn’t going to foster a good bond. Your pooch needs to trust you, so work with their instinct instead of against it.
- Attention- Keeping your beagle safe means spending more time and focus on little details like inspecting every inch of your fence line and staying where you can see them.
- Energy- Since beagles have nearly boundless energy, they can wander far and fast, which makes them hard to track.
- Legal Issues- Very few areas allow dogs to roam off their leashes these days. If you don’t want to bail your pup out of doggy jail, keep them on a leash inside the city.
Why Some Owners Should Not Let Beagles Off-Leash
Like their beagles, some owners are easily distracted and should not let their beagles off the leash. If you don’t have the time and focus it takes to properly care for your hunting dog outdoors when they’re off the leash, don’t risk the heartbreak of a lost pet.
When you get a new dog, whether you’re raising them from a puppy or re-training an older dog, never assume they’ll listen a hundred percent of the time. Set up a safe, enclosed area for your practice and playtime. Don’t leave unattended beagles outdoors. They’ll go wandering if you take your eyes off them. This includes when you’re at a dog park.
Dog lovers who are away often, or who simply don’t have the time and energy to train beagles should enlist the services of an expert. Professional dog trainers who know how your dog thinks and acts will be able to work with them to create a safe pattern of off-leash behavior. Moreover, they’ll train you too. Together you can work to get your canine companion off-leash ready.
Should You DIY Train Your Beagle
Don’t buy into the stereotype that beagles can never go off-leash. These smart hunters live to run and track. However, beagles are also bred to return with their spoils. A good hunting dog is loyal to the core and comes back without fail when they’re done running around.
While some dog owners and experts argue that it’s never worth the risk, letting a beagle who is appropriately trained run free is fine. That said, owners who can’t commit to months of daily training or hire a professional should opt-out of off-leash training. Moreover, it’s an excellent idea to choose a different breed if you’re not up to the challenge.
For hunters and outdoorsy types who spend a lot of time in unpopulated areas, a beagle can be the ideal dog. Especially if you have prey for them to fetch, a great hunting dog will happily do the job their doggy genetics tel them they should already be working toward.
Four Ways to Train Beagles for Off-Leash Time
There are four main methods that owners and trainers use to train off-leash beagles successfully. Each method has its bonuses and drawbacks. However, none of them is ‘better.’ Choosing the right way to teach is a matter of preference and what works for you and your pooch.
Keep in mind that beagle training is intensive. You can’t get instant results, and anticipating them is setting yourself up to fail. Patience and consistency are the keys. Expect to spend at least two months in training before you do a trial run. No one wants to risk their pet off the leash before they’re ready.
Unfortunately, beagles are so easily distracted; you need to take the extra time to make sure the training sticks when the chips are down, and they smell something yummy. Know when to stop and call a professional. If your way isn’t working, don’t give up, get the help you and your dog need.
Lay Down Groundwork
Before you begin serious off the leash beagle training, it’s a good idea to work on some basics. Teach them to sit, come, and stay. Spending this time together establishes a training pattern. Additionally, it shows your dog who the boss with the rewards is in the family and builds a trust bond between you.
Off-Leash Method #1- Electronic Assistance
Electronic dog collars are a great way to train a beagle to walk and play without a leash. While some owners and trainers use a shock to get their message across, I do not. It’s up to you to make that decision, but the pain is not a good incentive for a dog. It teaches them to fear instead of love.
Regardless of your comfort level, most good electronic collars come with this option. The key is finding one that has sound and vibration options and using those instead. I suggest the Ipets PET618 Dog 2700ft Training Collar. It’s waterproof and has a good range so you can work with your dog at a distance. The adjustable intensity and easy recharging are incredibly helpful. You can find out more by clicking here.
The ability to use a sound or vibration to help snap your dog out of their ingrained hunting behavior is instrumental. Beagles aren’t ignoring you on purpose when their focus is elsewhere. We call it stubbornness, but in reality, it’s just a genetic disposition.
Off-Leash Method #2- Long Lead
To use a long lead effectively, you need a strong lead that’s secure, and at least two or three types of treats. It’s best if your dog has a smelly favorite. One of mine is especially fond of liverwurst.
This method is simple enough to learn. You take your dog out on a long lead. No more than about fifteen feet at most. When they near the end of the line, call them back with your voice and a firm but gentle tug. Don’t use a collar and leash. Instead, opt for a secure body harness so that your beagle can’t slip-free.
My favorite is the RUFFWEAR WebMaster Multi-Use Support Dog Harness from Amazon. It doesn’t seem to rub or cause discomfort, and I’ve never had a dog slip free from a WebMaster. I like the added security and durability. To check prices and availability, click here.
Always praise and treat your dog for returning. However, save the liverwurst or another extra desirable treat for those times when they’re reluctant, and never give them negative responses when they fail to follow the command.
Off-Leash Method #3- Follow Me
To train your dog in the Follow Me method, you’ll need treats and a large, familiar enclosed area like your yard, preferably one with plenty of cover so you can hide and move quickly out of sight. The idea is to walk together and then make a rapid direction change whenever the beagle gets far enough ahead to lose sight of you, even for a moment.
Your dog will typically come looking for you as soon as they realize they don’t know where you are. Whenever they come back to you, give a small reward and some praise. If you have to call them back (and you will eventually) provide a more enthusiastic reward when they return.
By using this pattern, your dog learns that they should always know where you are. As always, never give negative response or a penalty for failure. Training doesn’t require shame, fear, or dominance through threats. Teaching your canine companion that you are where the love and rewards come from is enough.
Off-Leash Method #4- Treats From Afar
First, choose a simple command word. In this case, we’ll use ‘come’ for the example, but the term doesn’t matter. Next, you need a super smelly treat. A reward like peanut butter or liverwurst is best because you can smear it on your hand. Finally, chose an enclosed indoor area and work your way up to more extensive and outdoor options over time.
Repetition and consistency are vital to teaching the Treats From Afar method. Start simply by sitting your dog down. Walk a few feet away, put some of the treat on your hand, and give the command to come. They will smell it and come running. Praise the beagle and let them lick the smelly goodness off of you.
Don’t push the distance at first. Spend days working on each increase in the range. Over time you’ll be able to say a word and have your canine companion come bounding back to you reliably. This fundamental training method may be too simple for some smart, distractable beagles, which is why it’s last on the list.
Beagle lovers always worry about their scent hounds being off-leash. Fortunately, there are a few extra precautions you can take to make sure they make it home safely. First and foremost, get them a proper collar with current ID tags. You’d be surprised how often this slips a dog owner’s mind when they change their phone number.
Next, you can consider chipping your dog. This won’t give you their location, but it will make sure that, should they turn up at the pound, workers there will know who to call. If you’re not comfortable with injecting technology into your dog, consider the wearable alternative.
My all-time most trusted method for dog tracking is the incredible Garmin Alpha 100 Bundle. You can use the GPS to track multiple dogs if you have more than one. The collars also function as training collars. I always suggest you stay away from the shock option and use the tone or vibration to call your dog back when they roam too far. It’s like having an electronic fence and remote surveillance in the palm of your hand. Grab yours by clicking here, and never wonder where your beagle is again.
Instead of worrying about whether your beagle can go off-leash, you should be deciding how to make it happen. Yes, training a cunning dog with a hyperactive hunting sense is tough. However, it’s also well worth the time.
You may discover that both you and your dog enjoy the challenge of off-leash training. If so, consider progressing to agility and other tricks. The bonding time is priceless, and beagles are bright enough to learn more than most people take the time to teach.
Please take extra precautions if you let a dog go without a leash outdoors. Beagle or not, your pet deserves to stay safe and always find their way home.