HINTS ON TRAINING BEAGLES
(From January 1916) By Carl Jones, Wabash IN
Dear Sir: A few lines on the training of the young beagle, which I hope will be taken for what it is worth, to the new beginner as this is not for the benefit of the professional trainer. First, get you a beagle pup, say four to six months of age from some honest breeder, a pup that comes down from a line of field winners. One word here, as a pedigree is a dangerous thing to handle, it may look good, the list of bench winners, with a long line of field trial winners, with a few champions mixed in, to set it off.
A puppy which comes from a long line of field winners which were worthy of the name, he himself should have the very best of formation, good feet, a full hard pads, hind legs must set well apart, must be very well muscled in them, keep away from the dog with an excessive wide front, he gets very little action from here. Ribs must be well sprung, front ribs should not be sprung too wide, as it might interfere with his winning. Back ribs cannot be sprung too wide, the shoulders should be light, front legs must be fairly straight and not a great amount of bone in them. The head can be of any type you like, except the nose, which must be extra good; also enough room for the brains to have working room, for here lies the greatest working part of the dog. The ear can be of any length you like, but a fine long ear don’t go good through the briars. As to speed, you can have what you prefer, your hunting grounds should tell you this. For myself I will take a real fast beagle with a nose and brains enough to know how to use it, the faster the better for me.
Now we have the right puppy, so he must be trained for a gun dog, a real for sure rabbit dog, as we all say. First, I would learn the pup common every day manners, which all beagles are not learned as they should know. But go slow in this, as I am satisfied that there is more hunt taken out of beagles in trying to learn them manners than any trainer could put in them in a year’s work afield. Hunt your pups together in pairs. It makes them more independent hunters, using their nose more and eyes less.
Some trainers use a broken beagle to start their pups with, but like take the place of the broken beagle. Hunt your pups in the likely places for rabbits; they will soon find out what is wanted of them. You will be surprised how soon they take up the trail, never sight chase a pup if you can help it, as it gets them to hunting with their eyes.
Now don’t be afraid to go right along with your pup and encourage him in his work. By this I mean show him that you too are there and not back on a fence or sitting on a stump, as he would soon learn the same habits of his master. Don’t make a big fuss and get the pup excited, as you will only have a rattle-headed dog for your trouble. Don’t pet your pups while in the field at work. Don’t keep them at work until tired and worn out, as it makes them very indifferent hunters if you do. When your pup has learned to go out and find rabbits and can trail them reasonably good, watch your chance and shoot one for him, let it lay until he comes up and noses it over. If this is repeated a few times for him I think you will have a dog that will stay with his rabbit until it is shot or holed. Remember all good breeders have learned their puppies what a gun is, as this firing of a gun has been their call for meals.
If the pup is a dyed-in-the-wool gun-shy dog just….(part of sentence has been edited out) But be careful that he is gun-shy and is not just showing a timid streak, which we find in many a well-bred beagle. I have never had one single pup that was gun-shy, but have had quite a few come in training that were inclined to be a little timid, but if properly handled and trained there is no danger from this.
When your young beagle is well broken, he will hunt at quite a rapid pace, covering lots of ground in the likely places for rabbits, for remember you have learned him where to look for game. I like to see a dog go to game, no matter how far it is. A broken dog, to suit me, must go out and start his own rabbit, then give an account of his game. I like to see the real for sure rabbit dog; there are quite a few of them. It is nothing very remarkable for a beagle to do his work well, if he has had the proper training; that is, if he has the stuff in him.
I could tell you of two breeders, who live far apart, whose dogs always go out and deliver the goods for me. So far they have never failed, not in one single instance. I have no beagles for sale, nor do I breed any beagles. The careful study of the blood lines is far easier to leave to the other fellow.
There are many good honest fellows that own and breed beagles that are advertising every day so I do not want to lay a single straw in the breeders’ way, as he has hard enough times as it is without anyone making him more trouble.
If this suits most of you, some day I may tell you of the greatest field trial dog that lives. A dog that has run under the very best of field trial judges and never failed to win a place. Good luck to you all–satisfying recreation with this, our greatest dog.
CARL JONES, Wabash, IN