Games to Play With Your Beagle

By Adrienne Farricelli

Categorized under the American Kennel Club's hound group and with a history as a hunting dog, beagles are affectionately nicknamed as the "nose on four legs." Despite living in comfortable homes and eating food from a bowl, these dogs are still eager to put their powerful sniffers to work. It's your job as a beagle owner to find stimulating outlets for your beagle's needs for physical exercise and mental stimulation. Playing games with your beagle can be a wonderful opportunity to keep your beagle active and happy.

Kibble Hunt Game

In this game, instead of following a trail of rabbit droppings, your beagle gets to go on a treasure hunt using his nose to find his kibble. You can play this game inside the home or out in the yard as long as it's safely fenced. You'll find feeding from a bowl useless once your dog discovers this mentally stimulating game. Here's how to teach it:

  1. Keep your beagle out of sight in another room so he can't see you.
  2. Make a trail with his kibble or hide his kibble in hard-to-find spots such as under rugs, behind table legs or in corners.
  3. Release your hound and watch him go on his kibble hunting spree.

If your beagle loves this game and his nose is up for a challenge, consider enrolling in the exciting sport of tracking, where your beagle gets to follow his natural ability to follow scent.

Never leave your beagle in the yard unsupervised. Beagles are proficient climbers and diggers who have been known to go over and under fences in search of adventure.

Canine Nosework Game

For many good reason beagles are being utilized for sniffing out contraband food being brought into the United States at airports and other points of entry. These dogs have a powerful sniffer, which is gifted with approximately 220 million scent receptors. Their friendly looks make them less intimidating to people compared to other breeds. Just as members of the "Beagle Brigade" were trained to identify problematic pieces of luggage, your beagle can be trained to detect scent in specific cardboard boxes. Here how to teach it:

  1. Have somebody hold your beagle as he watches you hide the strongly scented food in a cardboard box.
  2. Place the box among other empty cardboard boxes.
  3. Release your beagle to search for the box with the food.
  4. Lavishly reward your beagle when he finds the right box.
  5. Make the game gradually more challenging by not letting him see you hide the food.

If your beagle does well in the canine nosework game, consider enrolling him in K-9 Nose Work where he gets to compete against other dogs at various competition levels.

Round Robin Recalls

Hound dogs are notorious for having poor recall, but with the right training, you can attain some satisfactory results. In this round robin game, your beagle will learn how fun and rewarding it is to respond to his name. To set up your beagle for success, start in a low distraction area and gradually move to more distracting areas. Always practice in safely fenced areas. Here's how to play this game:

  1. Supply several players with yummy treats.
  2. Position your players in different areas.
  3. Let the players take turns enthusiastically calling your beagle and rewarding him with the tasty treats for coming.

Keep training sessions short and fun to keep your beagle's interest alive. If at any time your beagle takes off to sniff something, make a mental note of it and consider that he may not be ready yet for that level of distraction.

Hide 'N Seek Game

Another fun game based on training a recall is the game of hide and seek. In this game, you initially will be hiding in easy to find areas working up to more difficult ones. As with other recall games, it's important to use high-value treats to reward your dog. How to play this game:

  1. Have a helper hold your beagle as you go hide in an easy-to-find area.
  2. Call your beagle enthusiastically.
  3. Let your helper release your dog.
  4. Praise lavishly and reward with the tasty treats the moment your beagle finds you.

Beagles have an innate tendency to follow their noses and chase anything that runs. While you can train your beagle to come when called, don't count on this command working when he's unleashed and in pursuit of a squirrel in a nonfenced area.