If you are thinking of getting a dog, one of the biggest questions is always what the dog is like to play with and how eager they are to have fun and enjoy themselves – with you, of course. With that in mind, you might be wondering, do beagles play fetch? Can you get a beagle to actually chase, pick up, and return the ball, or will your dog not understand this process? Many dogs simply take the ball and run off with it, which is far less satisfying for the person doing the throwing and makes it harder to exercise your dog.
So, how likely is your beagle to bring the ball back? Well, beagles are not a retrieving breed, so they don’t naturally try to bring balls back, although they do love chasing them. However, with a bit of work and proper training, you can encourage your beagle to return the ball as well as running after it.
Half of the fun in fetch is the return, watching your dog triumphantly and proudly trot back to you with the ball in its mouth. It’s also important to establish this “return” process because otherwise, you will find you are constantly having to jog after your dog to get the ball back. It might be a good daily exercise, but it’s not necessarily what you want to be doing. Many dogs will leave the ball and run back to you without it, but still expect it to be thrown again afterward. Some beagles may do this, but you can train them to fetch.
Do Beagles Play Fetch?
Not instinctively, no, but you can teach a beagle how to play fetch if you’re willing to put in some time and effort. However, you might be wondering why they don’t play naturally. Why do some adult dogs realize that they have to bring the ball back if they want the game to continue, and others don’t?
The answer is that some dogs have different instincts, and the “retrieve” instinct is common in – unsurprisingly – dogs like retrievers, but not in beagles. This active breed wasn’t “designed” that way.
Beagles were bred as excellent hunting dogs (scent hounds). They were trained to run after prey and chase down rabbits and foxes and other prey, but they were not trained to bring the prey back. Instead, their job was to guide the hunters after the animal, and run it down if they could.
Hunters could then follow the dogs (which would bark loudly to give away their position) and this helped them to find the animal they were hunting.
Over the years, some of the training that they underwent as hunting dogs likely got instilled in how beagles generally behave, altering the nature of the dog as well as its physical form.
That means that while adult beagles have a strong “chase” instinct, their “bring back” instinct is pretty lacking overall, and you’ll probably struggle to get your beagle to understand that you want the ball to be returned to you.
Most beagles will run madly after a ball, but then sit on it, or take it away and play with it elsewhere. The idea that you might want the ball returning to it might puzzle them, and it could take quite a while for them to get the hang of it. While the process might seem simple to you, your dog just doesn’t understand what you want.
You have to show your beagle what you want, training it to bring the ball back to you every time you throw it. However, beagles are notoriously difficult dogs to train, so let’s talk about that next – how do you train a beagle to fetch so you can enjoy long hours in the park together without having to constantly go after the ball yourself?
How Do I Get My Beagle To Play Fetch?
You can get your beagle to play fetch with some careful house training, although it’s important to bear in mind that beagles are pretty hard to train. They are stubborn and very easily distracted, but they are also energetic and intelligent, so you should be able to train your dog if you put the time and energy into it.
The challenge is getting your family pet to understand what fetching involves. Once it has mastered it, it should manage just fine, as beagles will usually really enjoy fetching – they just need to get the idea down first.
So, how do you do it? You will probably want a few different toys, but the most important thing is treats. Beagles are very food motivated, and if you don’t use smelly treats, you’ll find training a long and likely very slow process. Using treats should speed things up a bit!
Teaching a young beagle to play fetch is much easier than teaching an older beagle, so make sure you take advantage of your puppy’s youth and train it early when the mental stimulation is much more powerful. A tennis ball is a good way to get your beagle involved, as most beagles like tennis balls. Choose some top treats and first of all check whether your dog will chase the ball.
If it doesn’t chase it, try tossing the ball quite nearby, and make sure that your beagle is watching when you make the throw. Speak enthusiastically and encourage your dog to chase after the ball. Once it has mastered chasing – which most beagles will pick up quickly – try calling your dog back to you after you’ve thrown the ball. If the dog comes to you and if you are lucky, it will bring the ball back when it comes.
If your dog doesn’t come, use the food to incentivize it. A strong sense of smell means the beagle should soon return to your side when you start waving a nice treat around.
If your dog comes to you but abandons the ball, try getting a friend involved. Get the dog to carry something between the two of you, and praise it for handing the toy (stuffed animal) over. This should help your beagle get the idea that giving things to humans is good and results in a reward.
Training your beagle will probably take quite a bit of work, but it can be done if you stick at it. A beagle that is enthusiastic about chasing is more likely to be trained into fetching too; if your beagle isn’t keen on the first part of the equation, it might struggle with the second.
Why Do Some Dogs Love Playing Fetch?
Some dogs, like Labradors and retrievers, have been trained to fetch items. They were used to bring the game back to hunters, and have particularly soft mouths so that they could fetch fowl and other prey back to hunters without damaging it.
Fetch ties in with both this and with a dog’s natural instincts to chase after anything that moves. Hunting prey is obviously part of most wild dogs’ lives, and the game of fetch is similar. The dogs are essentially conditioned to chase down prey and will jump at the opportunity to do so, even if prey happens to be a tennis ball in this case.
That said, not all dogs enjoy fetch as a game. Some dogs don’t seem to understand it, and some need a lot of encouragement. Many, as suggested, enjoy the chasing aspect but do not like to bring the “prey” (or ball) back. This may be because, in the wild, there would have been no reason to drag food back to others if the pack was hunting as a whole. The “retrieve” instinct is, therefore, more dependent on human conditioning and may not occur in all dogs.
Because beagles don’t seem to have it, you will probably have to teach yours how to retrieve it, but this can be done reasonably easily as long as you are patient.
Often, dogs enjoy fetching simply because it is fun for them (they get to run around, chase, catch, and sometimes get treats too), and fun for their owners. Many dogs live to please, and if you are delighted by the return of the ball, the dog feels that it is being helpful and that it is making you happy!
Conclusion – So, the answer to “do beagles play fetch?” is a tentative yes, they do if they are taught to! Some beagles may naturally play, but most will need a bit of prompting and guidance in order to grasp that they need to bring the ball back to you so you can throw it again.