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When Beagles Run |
 Escaping and Wandering

Beagles Running Away from Home - Escaping and Wandering

The Beagle, just like any other dog breed, comes with some challenges. Beagle lovers know that the amazing traits and qualities of this dog far outweigh any 'cons' and that the Beagle makes a fantastic pet and an excellent companion. 

With this said, one of the biggest challenges that owners will face is figuring out how to keep their Beagle from running away. This breed is prone to escaping and then wandering.

Being a scent hound dog, the Beagle has been bred for centuries to follow his nose. 
This instinct is extremely strong. Most often, a Beagle will run away to follow a scent. In some cases, a Beagle will run off in search of other dogs - since he is a strong pack hunter - and the urge to be with other dogs can sometimes be overwhelming. In other cases, a Beagle will run from home and wander in anticipation of finding and then tracking a scent.

This is not to say that this breed is strictly a scent hound. The Beagle has also been bred to be a loyal companion and can make for a wonderful family pet if owners take a few small steps to help a Beagle control his running urges and to provide a home environment that encourages and supports his natural instincts and impulses.

In addition, implementing some safety methods to keep a Beagle safe - should he still try to run away now and then - will all come together to provide a happy, safe environment for this scent and hunting hound that is now the domesticated canine family member of today.
Understanding the Beagle Nose and How This Can Cause a Beagle to Run

Some owners wonder if the Beagle's ability to pick up a scent is really THAT much stronger than the average dog's, that it explains the Beagle breed's need to run away.  

Canines, in general, have a much more sensitive nose than humans. Scent sensitivity varies from breed to breed. 

Depending on the dog breed, this will range from being 1000 to 10,000 times stronger than a human's. A typical human has 5 million scent glands (ethmoidal cells). Dogs will have between 125 to 300 million. The Beagle breed has 200 million.

Aside from the scent glands that are located inside of the nose, the outside of the nose also comes into play.
Scent hounds, such as the Beagle, have noses that are designed to pick up scents in the air. (The nose is large, wet and dissolves scent particles in order to identify them). This means that not only will a Beagle have urges to chase after scents picked up from the ground, he is also prone to run and chase after scents picked up in the air. 

Beagles can easily pick up a scent up to a mile away. A male can pick up the scent emitted from a female in heat from 2 to 3 miles away - and this is commonly the reason that an un-neutered male Beagle will run. Dogs pick up the pheromones from other dogs at quite a distance - it tells them the gender, health status and even the mood of the other dog. So, with all of this information being processed by a Beagle at just about all times, one can start to understand the urges and impulses to run.
Beagles running
Running to Something VS Running from Something

It must be noted that when a Beagle runs away, he is not running from you or from your house. Owners must learn to not take this behavior personally. It is no reflection on the love that owners have for their dog or the type of environment that is offered. When a Beagle runs from home - some refer to this as escaping - and wanders away, the dog is often running TO something.

Keeping a Beagle From Running Away

The most important thing that owners can do is to take steps so that a Beagle will have less opportunity to run. Here are the basics:

A safe outside area - The optimal environment for the Beagle breed will have a good sized, enclosed yard. This said, it is not a good idea to just let your Beagle be outside alone.  Not only will he not self-exercise since most Beagle need a purpose while exercising such as chasing a ball that you throw or following your lead while on leash, but there are dangers and there are often strong feelings of isolation. 

A fence will help to delay the running behavior; but a determined Beagle that has picked up a tantalizing scent will work to find a way under, through or over a fence if he wants to. 

Here are steps to take if you have an enclosed yard that you let your Beagle run in:

-Monitor your Beagle

-Limit the amount of time spent outside alone

-Inspect the fence for any weak spots

-Remove any lawn furniture or other objects that your Beagle could use to reach over the top of the fence

Here are steps to take if you do not have an enclosed yard:

Do not tie your Beagle to a tree - This causes stress in most dogs and certainly for the Beagle that will be picking up scents. When dogs are tied in this way, they will often wind themselves around the tree, leaving little room to move.

A run can be useful to allow a Beagle to run back and forth - but again, a Beagle may find this frustrating as he will be constrained.

It is suggested to accompany your Beagle when bringing him to an outside area. Using a harness instead of a leash will allow you better control. 
When Out and About

The #1 most important element that owners should remember is that a leash should never come off when outside. Too many times, an owner has let their Beagle off-leash to play with a neighborhood dog, only to have the Beagle play for a bit and then take off running. There are too many temptations for a Beagle to remain in place if off leash.

Its great to allow a Beagle to play with other dogs; learning to engage other dogs and "play nice" is an important part of socialization; however this should be done on leash. If the two dogs sniff each other and show desire to play, owners can back off - but keep the leash on if you don’t want your Beagle to run.

How to Bring Back a Beagle that Ran Off

Commands - An untrained dog will never come, sit or stay - he doesn't know the meanings of the words! Owners are encouraged to teach a Beagle the basic commands: Sit, stay, come, down. These will be invaluable if a puppy or dog accidentally goes off leash and runs. While some dogs will be so focused on a scent that they will not listen to commands, when an owner establishes himself as leader and gives a trained command, the Beagle will be much more prone to doing as he is ordered.

If your Beagle does not listen to you, it is time to establish yourself as leader.
Beagle on grass
Checklist for Establishing Leadership

Training for the command of ‘Come’, leash training and taking steps to prevent your Beagle from running off are important. Aside from this, an owner should do the following to establish himself as leader, so that the Beagle has the right mind-set to listen to commands. If an owner starts following these guidelines, behavioral improvements can be seen in as little as a week. 

One of the keys is to not stop! Establishing yourself as leader means very little, if you take the title away from yourself by not keeping with these guidelines. The goal will be to set the rules in place and then keep them in place and reinforce these elements on a daily basis.
1. Any time you enter the house, you enter first, (followed by any other human family members) and your Beagle enters last. You may want to be polite and let your dog enter first and this is a HUGE mistake. It is the same as saying, “Enter, my Boss, I bow to you, please take the lead’ When you ‘say’ that by the action of allowing your Beagle to run into the house before you, you are setting up the foundation of that Beagle not listening to you. Why should he? You JUST told him that he’s the boss.

2. Any time that you exit the house, you exit first, (followed by any other human family members) and your Beagle exits last. Why? See above!

3. Any time that you are planning on eating and it is also time for your Beagle to have a meal, do the following: You begin eating (even 1 bite is fine, as long as your puppy or dog sees that you did it) and then you give the ‘Sit’ command. You only place his food down once he obeys. You go back to eating. What did you just do? You showed your Beagle that you are the leader. Food is a vital element in establishing the hierarchy of the family pack. If you let your Beagle eat first, don’t be surprised if he escapes, runs away and doesn't listen to you as you are shouting out his name.

4. Once you are in a good rhythm of keeping the above guidelines in place, take the time (and have the patience) to train your Beagle the basics. This includes: Sit, down, stay and come.
Redirecting Focus - When out with your Beagle, be prepared in case he runs, even if you believe that you have taken precautions to keep him on leash. A treat that emits a dense scent may pull back a Beagle that is running. One slice of pre-cooked bacon, microwaved to a crisp and sealed in an air-tight plastic bag can quickly be taken out and used to urge a Beagle back if he escapes from leash and is taking off. Stoop down, hold out the treat and call your Beagle in an authoritative voice. Do not allow anger to show in your tone, however call out his name with confidence and authority.

NEVER scold your Beagle for coming back to you if he ran off. After all, he ran due to instinct but reigned that all in to listen to your command to return. While you may not be happy that he ran away, do give praise when he comes back to you, and do give him the treat .

Games and Activities

We can't take away a Beagle's instincts to sniff, chase and run… so we can allow a Beagle to follow through with those instincts in a controlled, safe way. An easy way to do this is to play a game of "Find". Anyone with a yard can play this with their Beagle; although the larger the yard, the more challenging the game can be. 

You'll need to plan ahead by preparing something for your Beagle to "hunt down". The above mentioned bacon works well, although chicken or any healthy meat that when cooked also creates juices will work well.

If you choose to use chicken, boil a piece of white, deboned chicken in a small amount of water or bake it, while catching the juices. Spread just a LITTLE BIT of the juices on a dog toy - Use a STURDY toy and do not smear much on it - the goal will be for your puppy or dog to track it down, not to then find it and try to rip the toy apart! You can save the chicken meat to later add to your Beagle's next meal.  

If you use bacon, you can gain enough grease from just 1 piece that is fried. That grease - when cooled down- can be smeared on a toy - remember that just a little bit goes a long way! A smudge just about the size of your fingerprint is all that is needed.

No matter which method you use to create a scent, keep some to the side that will be saved to give that scent to your Beagle, so that he knows what he is supposed to run after!

Hide the toy in the yard. The first time that you play, you may want to make this easy, but don’t be afraid to make this challenging. Stashing it in the nook of a low hanging branch or deep into a bush is just fine. Do not allow your Beagle to see you running outside to do this!

Once you are ready, put your Beagle on leash (off leash is fine if the yard is enclosed and you have checked the fencing for any weak spots).

Standing close to the door that leads to the outside area, dip the corner of a paper towel into the juice (or grease) and encourage your Beagle to sniff it. (He won't need much encouragement!) Open the door and command "find"…encouraging your Beagle to track the scent. Don't put too much concern on false trails… part of the fun for the Beagle is to find the trail and by trial and error, find the toy.

Doing this on a regular basis can allow a Beagle to satisfy his urges to chase while staying at home. Some worry that this might encourage a Beagle to run… to "remind" him about chasing after scents. However, we must remember that a Beagle needs no reminding! Those instincts are there whether or not you play this game. Therefore, when allow your dog to do this at home, he can then follow through with those instincts in a controlled, safe way.
If Your Beagle Runs Away and You Cannot Find Him

All dog owners should prepare for a lost dog that ran away before it ever happens. Never think that it happens to others and not to you. It never happens when expected!
  • Immediately contact your local animal services and all shelters within a 20 mile area - if your Beagle is found but there is no room at a local shelter, he may be transported to one farther away - and not all shelters communicate with each other regarding lost dogs that have run away.
  • Create posters that have a clear, updated photo, your information and importantly, a reward.
  • Immediately set up posters around your neighborhood, at least in a 5 mile radius
  • Set up fliers in all animal clinics and pet shops within at least a 15 miles area - Dog owners who visit these places may live close to you
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