Why Start Beagles in a Running Pen?
The right way and the wrong way
Life is busy at Yellow Roses Kennel. Rabbit season comes in next week. Now is the time everyone decides they want a good rabbit dog. Everyone else wants to talk about rabbit dogs. Reason being, it seems rabbit hunters are the procrastinating type, and no time like rabbit season to remember that ones hound still has no idea how to run a rabbit. So a great deal of the hunting population will baptize their dog by fire. Instead of having the dog trained to handle, and exposing it to as many rabbits as possible in a starting pen to get their dog running they will make the grave mistake of just taking the dog hunting and see what he or she does in the field. If this sounds like you, don't do this!
Hunters, there is a week left before rabbit season get your dogs to a starting pen. It doesn't have to be mine, it doesn't need to be big, you can build one very easily, just something that exposes the hound to a lot of rabbits in a short amount of time. It would take the entire season of rabbit hunting for your beagle to see the amount of rabbits it would see in 24 hours in the pen.
Problem number two with hunting right away: Beagles have the desire to hunt and run something, the handler is the one that makes sure it knows its purpose in life is to run rabbits. Here lies the problem, most beagles start site chasing first before they use their little sniffers to run rabbits. When a hunter takes an inexperienced beagle to the field it is looking for those key opportunties in your training where a rabbit presents itself to the beagle and the hounds light bulb comes on and decides to give chase. This is what hunters are looking for in their dog. The moment when preparation meets opportunity. But what if it is not a rabbit that first appeals to your hound. What if you are walking the fenceline and a deer decides to come busting out of the brush instead. This is an appealing chase for a dog. Hope the e-collars are charged up. But insuing shock to keep the dog from running a deer to a dog that has never ran may completely shut the hound down for couple of hunts. My experience is the dog will just stop hunting because now it is completely clueless as to what it is doing when it goes out on these walks in the field.
So start the dog right. It has to have a bit of a clue that a rabbit is the game of choice to make the connection that will lead to the hound in mouthing pursuit. For those without access to a starting pen, rolling cages and a tame rabbit will stimulate the dog a bit. Release the rabbit and let the hound chase it on site for a bit and the dog will eventualy start smelling for the line. But whatever you do, do not just start hunting your dog and hoping for the best. I have seen this destroy more puppies then it has ever started.
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