Beagles are smart, affectionate, curious, friendly and playful. They are ideal family pets because of their size, groomability, and easy going nature with children. Beagles are full of energy, and benefit from an active family with a yard where they can run around and explore. Couch potatoes will want to steer clear of beagles; this breed loves constant activity and the outdoors.
Despite their compact size, beagles require a lot of exercise. At first glance they might seem like a good apartment dog, but families who don't have fenced yards for beagles to run in should be sure to walk them and take them to the park regularly in order to keep their weight down and to prevent boredom. Because they were originally bred to be hunting dogs, beagles like to stay active and love being outside. Breeders recommend several long walks a day, plus time for running.
Beagles have been labeled stubborn dogs, and have a reputation for being difficult to train. It is recommended that obedience training be introduced as early as possible, before stubbornness can set in. Beagles respond best to training done with treats as well as positive reinforcement – punishments only cause them to develop avoidance behaviors.
The Beagle's response to scent is both a blessing and a curse. Their highly evolved sense of smell makes them some of the best hunting and tracking dogs around, but if your family beagle catches a scent while outside, he will employ what some trainers call, “selective deafness,” meaning he will tune you out completely and will not respond to your calls for him to return. For this reason, breeders recommend never leaving your beagle off-leash in an area that is not fenced in.
Separation anxiety, barking, and destructiveness are common behavioral problems in beagles. Fortunately, they can almost all be prevented by keeping your beagle well exercised. Taking your Beagle for a long walk before leaving the house will leave him with little energy to be destructive. Beagles who bark or howl are often doing so because they are bored. Ensuring your dog has plenty of exercise and toys or bones to chew on, will keep him entertained and will stave off many of these undesirable behaviors.