As I’ve spoken of a number of times here, Beagles are by their very nature explorers. Much of their time at the dog park is spent investigating whatever catches their attention, be it a scent, a molehill or even a particularly interesting (and/or tasty) plant. This means that they tend to spend a lot of time wandering off in one direction or another. At times, they’ll venture into the bushes, or into tall grass that takes them out of my sight. When I first started taking the dogs to the park, this worried me to no end. After all, the last thing I want to have to do at this point is tell my Mom that I lost one of her dogs, and it’s easy to get paranoid about this type of thing. The advice that I was given on the topic was to just go ahead and let them wander into the bushes, and trust that they will want to stick close enough to the pack leader that they won’t get themselves lost. I was also told that whatever I do, I should not try to chase them into the bushes either, as they will then think that they are the ones leading the way and go further in.
To be honest, i still worry just a bit when the dogs wander out of sight, but as I’ve gone through this last week and a half, I have found that this piece of advice has been true. Even though Imola and Minardi may chase something or another into the bushes and out of my sight, they won’t wander far enough away to lose sight of where I am, and so far at least, they have always come back. The trick seems to be for the pack leader to just stick to the usual route, and although I do slow down a bit to make sure they can find me when they come back, you can’t just watch them the whole time. If you do that, they’ll start to think that you are looking to them for guidance, and they are likely to head off in a different direction than you had originally intended. As you walk along the path, you can see them glance back at where you are every so often, looking to you for direction.
You have to realize that the dogs are going to look to you, the pack leader, for guidance, and that as long as you can trust them to follow your lead, you should be fine as far as actually having two dogs with you when you get home from the park. You’re not always going to see where they are going, and you’re not always going to be able to follow them there. For that matter, on many occasions it turns out that following them is just going to cause problems. Of course, the fact that I came into this already having the trust of the dogs was a big advantage. In fact, it surprised me somewhat just how well the dogs accepted me to be the one in charge while my parents are away, even though I only see them occasionally. My Mom was expecting them to be stressed about about her being gone for at least the first couple of days, but as far as I can tell, this never happened, and the dogs have just stuck with their usual routine, even if the pack leader looks a little different than normal.