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
- NOVICE:The first level requires your dog to demonstrate the skills
required of a good canine companion. The exercises are to heel both on
and off leash at different speeds, come when called, stay (still and quiet)
with a group of other dogs and allow a standing physical exam from the
judge. The title awarded your dog for getting 3 legs in the Novice class
is that of Companion Dog (CD) after his registered name.
- OPEN:In this class the dog must do many of the same Novice exercises
but all are off-leash. In addition, there are jumping and retrieving tasks
and the group "stays" are for a longer period with the handler
out of sight. The title earned for this class is called Companion Dog Excellent
- UTILITY:The creme de la creme of the obedience world....In addition
to more difficult exercises, like the directed retrieve and jumping, the
dog must do scent discrimination tasks. The title earned in this class
is called Utility Dog or UD.
- OTCH and UDX: The best of the best can go on for more titles. Utility
Dogs that continue to compete and earn legs at 10 shows become Utility
Dog Excellence (UDX). Utility Dogs that are ranked 1st or nd in Open B
or Utility classes can earn points toward a title called the Obedience
Trial Champion or OTCH.
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).
GETTING STARTED IN OBEDIENCE OR TRACKING
If all this sounds like fun...and it is!.....then here are some ideas
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.