Natural Born

by admin on May 22, 2008

Natural Born

Natural Born

Beagles: Natural Born Hunters

While that little dog curled up at your feet may be the most affectionate, loving, and docile creature you've ever known, Beagles are actually quite efficient hunters. Originally bred for the purpose of tracking game and assisting their human hunters, Beagles excel in the field and at tracking.

Originally, rabbit and fox hunting were entered into as a sporting event instead of an acquisition of prey. Beagles were excellent at tracking down the prey for their hunters to kill or capture.

Beagles' primary use in modern hunting is as a flusher, a dog that will scare game out of the brush or out of burrows so that the hunter has access to it. Though Beagles are often used in packs or duos for sport hunts, they are most typically used one at a time in actual game hunts with just one hunter. Hunting restrictions have made the sport of game hunting dwindle somewhat, but Beagle clubs and the American Kennel Club all still offer hunting field trials. These trials are competitions that exercise the efficiency with which Beagles (and other breeds of hunting dogs) can perform the tasks necessary on the hunt, albeit with false or toy game.

Beagles and their handlers have the option of competing in three different types of field trials. The "Brace" type of field trial involves Beagles hunting in sets of two. These Beagles will have to track and, once it is found, indicate a hare to their handler or the "hunter". A variation of the Brace trial is the Gun Brace trial, in which the Beagles not only have to track and indicate the hare, but they are evaluated on their ability to ignore the sound of a gunshot when fired.

There is also the Small Pack trial, which is relatively self-explanatory. A smaller pack of dogs (up to seven) will perform the same tasks as dogs in the Brace category, ideally working together as a well-oiled unit. The Small Pack Option trial is the equivalent of the Gun Brace trial for this amount of dogs.

The Large Pack trial is a similar competition, but the packs are far larger. These trials typically only take place in certain states. In these particular states, the game of choice is usually the snowshoe hair. How much larger are these packs, you ask? Well, some packs can contain up to sixty individual Beagles. I wouldn't want to be that snowshoe hair!

The most beneficial part of these regulated trials is that they do not overkill hunting game and can help keep endangered species afloat. However, if you are interested in helping your dog sharpen his or her skills on the field but aren't interested in the actual act of prey hunting at all, an activity called "drag hunting" offers an all-species-friendly alternative. In drag hunting, one of the regulators will leave a trail of scent that the dogs must follow and indicate to their handlers when they have located the object producing it.

Whether hunting is one of your interests or not, your Beagle has the skills necessary for it bred into him or her. You don't have to participate in a hunt to help exercise your dog's natural tracking ability. Exploring tracking, whether hunting or not, can be a wonderful way to spend time with your Beagle and bond.

About the Author

This article was written by John Jackson and has been contributed by http://www.greatdogsite.com. For more information on the Beagle, please visit our page http://www.greatdogsite.com/breeds/details/Beagle/.

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