A beagle is a natural rabbit dog, able to flush out these games from their burrows and retrieve them for its master. Training a beagle to hunt rabbits starts with them being only a few weeks old.
Here are the steps for training a beagle rabbit dog.
- Have an 8-week old puppy play with a balled-up sock. Throw a sock to a short distance then command the puppy to pick it up. Once the puppy grabs the sock, it will attempt to get past you with its prize. Make sure to hold the puppy then take the sock from him while showering him with praises. Repeat the exercise until he tires of it then restart the following day. Give plenty of allowances to the pup’s short attention span during the early weeks.
- Follow up by letting him track a hotdog across a lawn. Tie a string around a hotdog then drag it across a lawn. Leave bits of meat along the grass as a reward for the puppy. Give the puppy the hotdog after he tracks it after a short distance. This will build up his stamina as well as the master-dog bond. You can also practice summons by waving pieces of hotdogs while calling his name. Pretty soon, a beagle will readily approach when beckoned.
- Use a frozen rabbit as practice. A whole rabbit wrapped in plastic and kept in a freezer can last for months. You do not need to thaw the rabbit to drag it along further and further distances along the terrain. At this point, train him with the “down” command, which orders him to leave what he’s doing and lie still. Do not let him ignore your commands or you will lose your dominance over him.
- Release a live rabbit within an enclosure. By building a starting pen, a young beagle can roam around it along with its intended prey so he can practice on his tracking skills without interference from wildlife. Guide the beagle to the rabbit without overtly bringing him to it; let him sniff out the trail left by the prey.
- Practice with firing your rifle in his presence. This will accustom him to loud explosions so that they won’t distract him during your hunts. Take the beagle to longer and longer excursions to acclimatize him to outdoor life.
- Pair up a young beagle with a mature bitch. A beagle can learn how to deal with rabbits that swerve suddenly by observing how an experienced senior dog looks for a scent. A mature companion will also be able to handle attacking prey, allowing the novice to assist at his leisure. After a successful hunt, alternate between hunting solo and in pairs for a while before allowing to join a pack. This way, he’ll be able to develop his skills in his own pace without pressure to live up to the group.
Beagles work in teams as they roam the forest and field for game. Continue to train them with harder situations and different kinds of prey, such as squirrels and quail.