Almost a year on and many of us are still living our lives from home, facing lockdown measures. Are you exhausted with being trapped at home and feel like you have run out of ideas on having some fun? Is your Beagle looking bored and restless? Well, we will share five things you can do with your Beagle to make the most of your time together..
Walking your Beagle is one of the common activities we can do during the COVID-19 crisis. You can do other activities with your Beagle, such as training, playing games that are safe and stimulating for you and your Beagle to do within your home.
These five activities can be done outdoors with your pet Beagle but can also be done indoors, which is great if like in the UK you are currently in the winter months and don’t fancy being outside.
Explore your local area
I’m fortunate to live on the outskirts of a town in Derbyshire (UK) surrounded by many fields. And during this pandemic, I did get into a rut where I seemed to walk the same route with my two girls. For the last few years, I’ve seen trails and footpaths which I’ve often wondered where they may go to. So during the autumn of 2020, I set myself a little challenge to go exploring on foot in my local area.
Armed with a map (in-case I got lost) I went exploring with my two Beagles. And it was a lot of fun for all of us, I got to take in new scenery, and the girls got to sniff new smells. I especially love the summer when the wild flowers have come into bloom, of course I took some lovely pictures whilst exploring my local area.
I’ve now gone into winter, and I have more routes with varying distances to choose from when we have our walks. It just makes things a bit more interesting for us.
What if I don’t live in the countryside?
Many dog owners live in towns and cities, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t explore with your Beagle chum. There are local parks you can visit, but with the COVID virus preventing many of us from leaving our towns or cities, parks can become overcrowded. So instead look up and take in the architecture and impressive buildings in your area. Just slowing down sometimes you see things you had maybe walked passed a hundred times before but you had your head down or on your phone.
If I go out exploring what might I need?
Heading out on your own or with your family to a new local area here are some things to consider:
- Take a local map
- Take a fully charged phone (be mindful that you might not get a signal)
- If you are heading out on your own, inform a family member or friend where you are going
- Wear comfortable walking shoes
- Wear a hat if it’s sunny or if it’s cold
- Take a waterproof jacket
- Take a bowl and water bottle for your Beagle
- Take some treats for your Beagle (and yourself!)
If you are only going for a short exploration with your dog, you might not need everything from the list above.
Depending on your Beagle’s age and health, consider if she will be able to go for a long walk, mainly if she is a puppy. We have more information on how far you can walk your Beagle puppy in this post about exercising your puppy.
Train your Beagle a new trick
We all know to train your Beagle takes time, effort and consistency, so now is a great time to teach your pup a new trick, whilst we are at home much more. Maybe he hasn’t been great at his recall, or he hasn’t quite mastered lie down, below are some things you could have a go at with your Beagle.
- Twirl (one of my personal favourites)
- Walking on lead
Online there is a wealth of tutorials and videos which show you how to train your dog.
Over here in the Uk, we have an annual dog championship called Crufts, I’ve had the opportunity to go to this event over the years. One of the competitions I always love to watch is the agility trials. It looks so much fun for the owner and dog. The communication between them is done by body language, so it requires a real connection with your dog. Also, it’s an excellent exercise for your Beagle and helps them to be more obedient.
I did some research to see how I might be able to train Bonnie my Beagle. In the UK, there are training sessions you can join where an expert dog agility professional will teach you in a group. With the pandemic, classes have been cancelled, but an alternative is to buy your equipment and teach yourself.
Amazon has a great range of basic agility training equipment from £30 to £100. There are some excellent websites and YouTube videos that will also provide beginner training. You never know next year you and your Beagle might be entering competitions together.
We all know Beagles love to play with us, whether its tug-of-war with a rope or throwing a ball (they don’t bring back!). Playing with your dog is excellent stimulation and exercise for them; it is also a good way to bond with your Beagle.
There are several ways you can play with your dog and given over here in the UK it winter, some you can do indoors.
You will need a dog rope toy, they come in different sizes and usually are made with rope! Some more comfortable rope toys have a rubber handle for you and your Beagle to hang onto. Usually, Beagle’s will take a medium-sized rope toy. Larger ones are more suited to bigger breeds such as labradors or Great Danes, believe me; there are some huge rope toys out there!
The aim of the game is pretty simple, but a top tip is to let your Beagle win, so they don’t get bored. You start the game, rather than interfere with your Beagle playing with the rope toy. If they are toy possessive, i.e. they get aggressive if you try to take any toy off them, this approach will only intensify this negative behaviour. If your Beagle has any aggressive tendencies, then playing this game may not be a good thing to do.
The rope toy shouldn’t be left out for your Beagle to sit and chew it, the strings that form the rope will unravel and end up in your dog’s tummy. We only allow our Beagles to play with the rope toy when playing the tug of war game.
Throwing a ball
Remember Beagles are not typical retrievers, back in the old hunting days they were allowed to keep the rabbit they chased. But with some training, you could probably teach your Beagle to bring the ball back.
Given Beagles will chew, I’d recommend buying a ball that’s made out of tough rubber. Kong does excellent indestructible toys, and their rubber ball is fab. Tennis balls will over time, break down, and if your Beagle eats the ball or parts of it, they will not be able to digest it, which means stomach surgery could be required.
Bonnie, my two-year-old Beagle, is very intelligent and does get bored quickly. So for Christmas (and yes Santa Paws does come to our house!) I bought her a treat maze.
These toys come in all shapes and sizes, and the aim of the game is to hide a treat under a flap or lid. Your Beagle has to use her exceptional sense of smell to find the treat. For treats, we use a single kibble biscuit, fish skin bite or a piece of carrot. It needs to be something that you know your Beagle will love to eat. It’s so much fun watching them attempt to find it and move the lid to get the treat. You can pay anything from £5 to £20 for a treat maze, the one we have is made of wood so if they run off with the lid (like Bonnie did) shes only chewing wood rather than plastic.
Because Beagles tend to chew things I would recommend this is a game you play together. Rather than leave your Beagle on her own with it.
Spa Day at Home
If you are unable to take your beloved Beagle to the dog groomer, that’s OK. You can still ensure you have a lovely looking Beagle by grooming them yourself at home.
Give them a bath!
Why not pamper them, so rather than use a cheap old dog shampoo, treat them to a dog shampoo that’s just a little bit more special. There are some lovely organic shampoos available online. Remember to buy a dog-specific shampoo; human shampoo can be too harsh on your dog’s skin. When it comes to washing them, depending on how your home is set-up, you can wash your Beagle outside or indoors in a shower or bath. If its the winter where you are, I would recommend you opt for an indoor wash, so your Beagle is nice and warm.
Top tips for bathing your Beagle:
- Firstly give them a good brush to remove excess hair. As Beagles are short-haired a soft-bristled brush will work just fine
- Depending on how your dog behaves around water and bathtubs, I’d recommend having some tasty treats on hand. If your Beagle looks stressed or becoming aggressive, I recommend not bathing them and leaving it to a professional groomer. My dogs usually will look thoroughly cheesed off when I plop them into the bath. After a couple of treats and some reassuring words, they are fine.
- Use warm water to rinse them down, like you would do if you bath a baby check the water is not too hot or cold. If you don’t have a bath with a showerhead on the tap or faucet, I use a plastic jug to pour water on them. Be careful not to pour it into the ear canal, as this can lead to an ear infection which can be quite uncomfortable for your Beagle and require a trip to the vet.
- Once there fur is suitably damp, pop a small amount of shampoo in your hand and give them a good rub. My girls love this bit. Again avoid getting shampoo in their ears and especially their eyes. As a general rule, I don’t shampoo their head if their ears are a bit crusty on the ends use a damp cloth to clean them gently.
- Now time to rinse, this is when a jug is super useful as you can be very thorough in rinsing the shampoo from their fur. This stage will take a few minutes, and you need to rub your hand all over their body to make sure you haven’t missed a soapy spot.
- Time to hold a towel up in between you and your Beagle because I’m pretty confident they will now want to have a big old shake. At which point your Beagle loses a load of water off its fur, and it ends up all over you and the bathroom.
- Once the shaking has finished, grab a big towel, lift them out of the bath or shower and give them a good rub to remove the excess water.
Ensure you are satisfied you have got them reasonably dry. If your Beagles are anything like mine, they will go nuts, run downstairs and then proceed to do zoomies. If its the summer and it’s mild outside, let them run around in your back yard to dry off. It’s not a good idea to let them loose if they are still damp and cold outside.
Clip their claws
If you Beagles are anything like mine, they hate having their claws cut. Anyone would think I’m chopping their paw off the way they react. There are several ways and tools online that show you how to cut claws If it’s going to be a stressful experience for both of you, I would suggest you skip this part of the spa experience.
And finally, have a nice shower or bath yourself, chillout with your Beagle with a good book or listen to some relaxing music.
Life after COVID
With vaccines starting to be rolled out for the COVID virus, and the subsequent reduction (we hope!) of lockdowns, we will at some point, return to some normality. For those who have been able to work from home, we probably will return to the workplace. This means our dogs will no longer be with us all day. Like most dogs, they will have become accustomed to having us around, so separation anxiety is a potential issue. I would recommend whilst you are at home, to have periods of the day where you leave your Beagle in another room to get used to being on their own.
Dogs love consistency, so adopt a routine now that you can continue if you return to the workplace. For example, you walk them in the morning at a time that is still achievable when your back to commuting to work.
Our post ‘Do Beagles Get Lonely’ talks in more detail about separation anxiety and how to deal with it.
In summary, many of us are in some sort of lockdown, and it feels like groundhog day for us and our Beagles. Rather than walk them around the block every day, think about doing some other activities with them. It’s great stimulation for them and a lovely opportunity to bond with your dog.