Beagles are very popular dog breeds that many consider as potentially wonderful pets. They are handsome and easy-to-groom, conveniently-sized, peaceful with other pets, friendly with people, and quite energetic. But as many dog owners will tell you, many a time, their beautiful lawns have been turned into a minefield, while couch, pillows, and blankets were carelessly strewn about. You’re probably wondering if this is the experience you’ll have with your beagle. Well, understanding your dog’s behavior is the first step towards finding solutions for unacceptable behavior. Many people buy a dog and toss them in the yard, expecting them to behave. But before we dive into the specifics, let’s answer one simple question first.
Do Beagles Dig? Beagles are notorious diggers, and like many scent hounds, they like to dig in the yard for in-ground prey. They will also dig between pillows and cushions; basically, they turn every soft thing that they see into an excavation site. There are several other reasons for this behavior, but whatever their motive is, find ways to discourage it before it aggravates to larger-scale issues over time.
Digging is a deep-rooted canine instinct in beagles. They are especially compelled to dig outdoors where small animals like rodents and moles live or to escape to track a scent. But what confuses many beagle owners is indoor digging. They’ll often find their dog digging through carpets, couch cushions, blankets, and pillows for no logical reason. The reasons can be anything from creating a safe and secure den-like space to hiding or storing food or treats. You can do crate training with soft blankets to create a place they can feel more independent and can safely hide their belongings without destructing or disrupting the rest of the house. There are several other ways you can discourage inappropriate digging, as we’re going to see below.
Can Beagle Dig Under The Fence And Escape (Is He An Escape Artist)?
Beagles are notorious escape artists and will become quite resourceful, including finding a way out through the fence. Most people don’t have fences that go underground, which works quite well for dogs. They can easily dig under the fence and create the perfect tunnel to make their getaway.
There are so many reasons why your beagle may escape from home. For starters, being scent hounds, they have been bred for centuries to follow their nose. Being outside means your dog will be bombarded with many scents and sounds that trigger the need to investigate. Your beagles hunting and chasing instincts will likely be triggered by the sight or smell of prey outside its boundaries, hence the need to chase after them. Un-neutered males can pick up the scent of a female in heat from up to three miles away. And, for many male beagles, not even a secure fence will get in their attempt to reach her.
Aside from running away to follow a scent, your beagle may run off in search of other dogs. Being a strong pack hunter, the urge to be with other dogs can be overwhelming. Other reasons why your dog may dig under the fence and escape are releasing pent-up energy, boredom, separation anxiety, frustration, fears, and phobias, or simply going on an adventure.
It’s important not to get angry when you find your beagle has escaped. This will only make them scared and harder to try and change their bad behavior. The best thing to do is find out how and where they escaped from and make the appropriate changes.
How to Secure My Yard?
There are a few potential dangers that you should be aware of when it comes to your beagle digging under the fence and escaping. For starters, many different types of animals could cause harm to your beagle, including venomous snakes and insects, bees, etc. Your dog could also be stolen, run over, get infections from cuts they get when digging through the fence, end up fighting with other dogs, and so on.
Knowing the reason for your dog digging under the fence and escaping is halfway there to finding a solution. It would help if you also made changes to your property to prevent the dog from escaping. This is where securing your yard comes in. To stop your beagle from digging an escape route under the fence, bury the chicken wire at the base of the fence. Your beagle will encounter the wire when it starts digging, and this will discourage further digging. Alternatively, you can place bricks, large stones, or a mixture of different textured stones near the bottom of the fence. This will irritate his paws and discourage him from digging further. Other solutions are to:
- Bury the bottom of the fence deeper below the surface (about 1-2 feet)
- Bury their poop in the hole if they’ve already dug some near the fence. Your dog won’t want to keep digging in their own poop.
- Install the dig defence deep hole blocker. These are metal spike type solutions to keep your dog from digging under the backyard fence.
- Install welded wire mesh along the fence line
- Install invisible fences, which work by creating an invisible boundary so your beagle can roam the property freely without escaping. With a shock collar around his neck, if your beagle tries to cross the boundary, he will receive a mild electrical shock, along with some warning noises, so they know to keep away from the fence. The shock is like the static you get when you touch something. So don’t worry, it’s completely safe.
Even after securing your entire yard, it’s important to find a solution to whatever makes them want to escape. Do not underestimate the curiosity or determination of your beagle. If he wants something, he will do everything possible to get it.
Is Digging A Separation Anxiety-Related Behavior?
Just like humans, beagles are a social breed that thrives on interaction with humans and other dogs. This makes them susceptible to separation anxiety, especially if left alone for prolonged periods of time without ways to remain occupied. When bored and anxious about being home alone, your adult beagle will become very distressed and need a way to channel its negative emotions. This is when they develop irrational behaviors like digging their way out of the home to reunite with their owners or other dogs. Also, outdoor digging provides physical and mental stimulation, which are necessary for curbing feelings of boredom and anxiety.
If your dog follows you everywhere when you’re home, seems to worry every time you head out, or goes berserk when you come back, you may be dealing with a case of separation anxiety. If you’re leaving your male or female beagle for a longer period of time, make sure you leave toys to keep them occupied and entertained. Secondly, avoid making a big deal out of departures and arrivals. You could establish a word or action that you can use when you leave to assure your dog that you’ll return. Lastly, create a safe place to limit your dog’s destructive digging while you’re away. You can confine the dog loosely in a room with a window and toys but not in total isolation. Some people may try crate training, but this may not be the best possible solution because your dog may still engage in anxiety responses inside a crate. This includes urinating, defecating, howling, or even injuring themselves in an attempt to escape from the crate.
Separation anxiety in pets isn’t a result of lack of command training or disobedience, rather your dog missing you, so avoid punishment or obedience training. Also, getting another dog might not help your anxious beagle because their anxiety results from their separation from you and not just from being alone.
Most importantly, make sure you spend quality time with your beagle. They will appreciate the company, and digging will not be in their thought process even when you’re gone.
What about Lack of Exercise?
Beagles are a very active breed and are always ready to run. If not consistently challenged with physical and mental exercises, they will find alternative ways to release their excess energy. Digging, for starters, takes a lot of energy, and your dog will do it as a form of self-exercise. So, if your beagle has been digging up a mess of your home, whether indoors or outdoors, it’s time to think about their exercise regime.
While we may have busy schedules, and your dog may not appear to want to go for a walk, finding time to exercise your dog will allow them to release pent-up energy. Brisk walks around the neighborhood, a game of fetch, running, and swimming is always a great go-to. Your dog will need at least 30 minutes of exercise daily; we recommend a combination of running and walking. Beagles are scent hounds, so they’ll enjoy a walk around the neighborhood or playing scent games since these provide an outlet for their instincts to sniff.
When you provide appropriate amounts of exercise for your beagle, they won’t have the energy to dig. Plus, it keeps their body strong, promotes good health, and reduces stress/anxiety, which we already discussed can be a contributing factor to your dog’s inappropriate digging.
In addition to physical exercise, your beagle needs mental exercise as well. Luckily, there are tons of mentally stimulating toys that can help keep them entertained. That being said, you may want to rotate their accessibility to different toys. This will help ensure they don’t get bored with any particular activity and turn to destructive animal behavior like digging.