Training Your Beagle

Beagles, being the versatile dogs that they are, are eligible for several AKC performance events, including obedience, agility, and tracking. So how does a person go about getting started?

Who can participate? While age requirements vary with the event, all dogs must be at least 6 months old to participate in any AKC-licensed event. Any dog that has an AKC registration or Indefinite Listing Privilege (ILP number) may be entered, including those that are spayed and neutered. Anyone can handle their own dog in these events.

The easiest way to find out when and where any AKC event is being held is to subscribe to the AKC GAZETTE, where there are monthly listings under the Events Calendar. Many of the AKC-licensed shows throughout the country have added one or more of these events as special attractions or exhibitions and all these activities make for an interesting family outing.


Obedience Trials test a dog's ability to perform a prescribed set of exercises on which it is scored. In each exercise, you and your dog must score more thatn 50% of the possible points ( ranging from 20-40) and get a total score of a least 170 out of a possible 200. Each time your dog gets that magical 170 qualifying score, we say he's gotten a "leg" toward his title. Three legs and your dog has become an obedience titled dog! There are 3 levels at which your dog can earn a title and each is more difficult than the one before it. In addition, each level has an "A" and "B" division. Basically, "A" is for beginners whose dogs have never received a title, while "B" classes are for more experienced handlers.


Ever watched a show or movie where the bloodhounds track the criminals through the swamp? Well, AKC Tracking Trials allow dogs to demonstrate their natural ability to recognize and follow human scent. Unlike Obedience Trials which require 3 legs, Tracking titles can be completed with only one track. A dog is required to follow a human scent that can be from 30 minutes to 2 hrs old over 440-500 yards with turns.

Tracking also has several levels, including Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) and Variable Surface Tracking (VST).


If all this sounds like fun...and it is!.....then here are some ideas and resources:

  1. Don't wait! Puppy kindergarten classes are designed for 2 -5 month old puppies and really focus on the very basics of training. Many basic training classes start puppies at 5-6 months of age. Just like kids, puppies pick up lessons very quickly when learning is made into a fun activity.
  2. Local dog clubs may hold classes that are taught by people knowledgeable in the sport and can help you train for these exercises. There are 5 kinds of dog clubs to look for: Obedience clubs, Tracking clubs, All-Breed clubs, Group clubs (devoted to a variety groups, like Hounds or Toys) and Local Specialty clubs ( those devoted to one breed.). There may be either one, several or all of these in your area that either hold classes and/or publish newletters with articles. Getting involved with a club can teach you many more things about your dog that can be helpful. You can access the AKC's Website for the geographical listings of clubs across the US.
  3. The American Kennel Club can supply you with information on all of these events by accessing their website or writing and asking for free rules and regulations on your favorite event.
  4. Local libraries, book stores or pet supply stores will usually carry several books on training your dog. You'll find that every author has his or her own method - no one has a patent on the right method! It's best to explore many methods and find what works best for you and your dog.
  5. Once you've gotten started, test your budding skill at matches. These are informal, inexpensive practice shows put on by dog clubs or groups. While you won't earn legs toward your title, you will get a taste of doing it "for real".
  6. Attend some Trials to observe and mingle. You"ll see skilled dogs and handlers ( and many who need to work some more!). You can meet people who have the same interests as you and can give you some tips or direct you to other classes and events in your area.


Agility is one of the newest AKC events and it is open to every breed. Dogs must be at least one year old to participate. In an Agility Trial a dog demonstrates its ability to negotiate a complex course which may include a walk over a bridge, jumping through objects, going through tunnels and pausing on command. There are differnet height categories so each dog is tested fairly on the course. Agility is exciting for the dogs, handlers and spectators. There are sanctioned Agility clubs and there are also many breed and obedience clubs that offer agility competitions.Many of these clubs also offer classes and less formal matches for beginners.

Authored and contributed by Sandra Fikes-Kalahari Ridgebacks.Edited for beagles by Ruth Darlene Stewart.