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Beagles have been selectively bred for hundreds of years to have the instinct to run off and follow a scent.

When beagles catch a scent, their noses hit the ground and they follow that scent anywhere. Unfortunately, when they do this, they are on "autopilot."  All other senses will be turned off, and no matter how loud you yell "come," a beagle will not listen and will not come back. It's not that they don't love you and want to run away or that they are being purposefully disobedient. They are just following their noses. That's the job of a beagle. We humans, as their guardians, need to make sure that they are safely contained so that their noses don't get them into a dangerous situation.

The only way to ensure their safety is to have a securely fenced yard for them to have off-leash play time and do their business. This is a requirement for adopting through Seattle Beagle Rescue.

"What about invisible fences?"

Invisible fences are not sufficient for a beagle's safety. Beagles are very stubborn dogs, and they often consider that it's worth a zap to get out and get at what they want to explore. It only takes once for them to do this and put themselves in a life-or-death situation. It's just not worth taking a chance.

The other (big) problem with invisible fences is that even if they do keep your dog inside, they don't protect your beagle from other animals or people coming in!

"Will a kennel do in lieu of a fence?"

We'd hate to see you waste any money installing a kennel. Kennels do not solve any of the problems that require a fence. A beagle cannot have off-leash playtime in a kennel, and it's unlikely that it will work as their potty area. The only purpose served by a kennel is for outside "storage" when you don't want the dog in the house. That's not going to work for a beagle.

Beagles are not only unhappy in an outside kennel, but you also will see behavior problems. Kennelled beagles tend to howl, which results in neighbor complaint, and the beagle will dig to try to get out. Because a kennel makes beagles unhappy and it doesn't remove the need to have a fence for exercise or potty time, it's just not worth having. Take the money that you were going to spend on installing a kennel and apply that to your fencing budget.

"What if I am willing to go outside on leash every time my dog wants out?"

That is a solution, but think hard about this solution before committing to it. The weather in our area is nasty for many months out of the year. Are you really truly willing to go stand in the rain 5-6 times a day, every time your dog asks to go out? It's really not much fun. It tends to be something that you think that you're willing to do when you are excited about the prospect of getting a dog, but after 6 months or a year, it starts to be a real drag.

You don't want to start dreading caring for your new dog. You want your relationship with your dog to happy and positive. You're going to have enough challenges with a new dog between housetraining and obedience training and just plain learning how to cohabitate and speak each other's language. If you can eliminate this big hurdle, you're much more likely to have a positive and rewarding experience. Waiting until you've got the physical setup to accommodate a beagle really is worth it.

"Jeez, aren't you guys a little paranoid about this?"

Perhaps, but we think it's a healthy level of paranoia. Beagles are among the top 5 breeds most commonly found in shelters and rescues in our area. The single most common reason that beagles end up in shelters is that they were found out wandering the streets and were brought in as strays. Those were the lucky ones. Many more end up dead or injured because beagles are not street smart. They are so busy following their noses that they don't look up or listen to see if there is oncoming traffic. After seeing the magnitude of the problem and the sheer number of beagles that end up lost and in shelters, we do take this very seriously.

Once you have installed your fence, we would be happy to introduce you to some wonderful beagles and see if you can find your soulmate!