It's not easy and it can be downright heartbreaking when you have to leave your Beagle home alone. Whether you work, go to school, or just need to leave to run errands, there will be times that you have to walk out the door... will your Beagle be okay?
This is a pack dog, super loyal to his owners...and this breed does not always handle the isolation of this. It's not uncommon for a Beagle to have separation anxiety issues. This goes above a dog just being a bit bored. It encompasses a range of emotions and behaviors due to stress.
In this section we will discuss the signs of separation anxiety and strategies that you can use to help your Beagle cope.
Signs of Separation Anxiety
The Beagle is the quintessential pack dog, truly enjoying the company of others, both human family members and other dogs. Left to his own devices, boredom can quickly set in...
And a panicked feeling of being alone may develop, which is commonly referred to as Separation Anxiety.
When a dog suffers from this, he is unable to gain control, he does not have the self confidence to play independently, and waiting for his owner to return can be quite emotionally tortuous.
Since you obviously will not be with your Beagle while he is experiencing separation anxiety, you may hear about some of the issues from close neighbors or hear what's going on as you come up to the door. You may also see evidence if your Beagle has become panicked in his area. The following are common signs that a dog is stressed when alone:
Whining -This often occurs as the owner is preparing to leave the house. Anxiety may set at the time that the dog realizes he is going to be left alone.
Excessive barking - This is the #1 symptom. A puppy or dog may bark to the point of exhaustion.
Pacing - This will be an obsessive pacing back and forth and may last for hours.
Destructive chewing - As a stress reliever and for some Beagles as an answer to boredom, a puppy or dog may chew everything and anything within reach; this will be non-toy items that you really didn't expect to be touched.
Escape attempts - A Beagle in emotional distress may frantically try to escape from his area. This can include trying to jump over fencing, pushing into walls, etc.
Excessive drooling - Being in such a panicked state, a Beagle may work himself up to having a lot of dribble and drool.
Coprophagia - While there are several causes for this and some dogs do this for no known reason, many veterinarians believe that anxiety can cause a dog to eat his own feces.
How to Help
Setting up the right environment -Beagles that struggle with separation anxiety often do not do well if they have the whole house to themselves. There is just too much space to roam around in which often increases feelings of isolation.
In addition, there are too many objects that may be torn apart. And of course, this is not a good set-up for puppies that are in the process of housebreaking.
However, being kept in too small of an area will also cause stress. Generally dogs will have increased levels of claustrophobia during times of stress and a crate that a Beagle may have once liked to curl up in to rest can end up exasperating the problem as it will make him feel too confined when you are away.
The best set-up for a Beagle with this issue is a gated off section of centrally located room.Often the kitchen or living room will work best. You will need to experiment to see if a window view (the slider in the kitchen, for example) increases or decreases stress.
In regard to windows, Beagles that do better with windows will be the dogs that gain some peace by seeing the outside world as it makes them feel not so confined.
Baxter, 4 months old
Photo courtesy of owner: Di - Malealea Lodge, Lesotho
However, Beagles that do worse with windows will be the dogs that bark, howl and become over-excited with every sight and sound. With a barrage of people, cars, bird and other outside elements able to be seen but not reached, a Beagle may be under even more duress.
Within that area,you can place some items that will help. You'll want a water dispenser or a water fountain if your dog normally gets so worked up that his bowl gets tipped over.
In addition, dogs that get worked up require more water and dogs that are stressed may forget to drink. A fountain, with the noise of tumbling water can attract a Beagle and encourage proper water consumption.
Food for the day can be placed inside Kongs and other treat-release toys as opposed to in a dish; this way your Beagle will stay busy when he is hungry as opposed to quickly eating his food. Unless your Beagle has a different preference, the best food to place inside is a mixture of smooth, all-natural peanut butter and dry kibble.
You'll want your Beagle to have a quality bed. If your Beagle is in his gated area and has access to a favorite chair, that should be fine. However, if he lies on the floor or does not have a supportive surface, this is not good. Not only are canine beds important to offer the right support to help prevent back and hip issues, they also offer a dog the feeling of having a 'den', which can be comforting when alone.
The right toys can be helpful.Interesting toysand comfort/ companion toys (particularly those that emit a soothing heartbeat) can help a great deal. Look for toys that speak or make interesting noises. For puppies and even older dogs that are receptive, a companion toy that emits a heartbeat and warmth (therefore mimicking a living creature) can really help a lot.
Outside the area, there are a few things that you can do:
Having the right background noises whisk away feelings of isolation. You can leave on a the TV or radio. However, choose the channel or station carefully. A light morning talk show may turn into a loud and disturbing show as the day wears on. We recommend music that can be looped that is specifically made for a dog's hearing. There's some great choices, see below.
If you will be arriving home as the sun is setting or later, be sure to leave on some lights. An empty house that is dark is going to feel a whole lot more lonely for a Beagle with separation anxiety than a well-lit one.
Offer a Mid-Day Break -If you are able to come home for lunch, this will help. Some owners worry that if they appear for just a 1/2 hour, that the Beagle will 'remember' to miss them and things will be even worse for the second part of the day. However, for most dogs, being able to see their owner, be brought outside and even taking a short 15 minute walk is the answer to relieving stress.
The puppy or dog is then able to 'reset; so instead of mounting, stress is greatly reduced and begins at a lower level when the owner must leave again.
Other choices are to hire a dog walker or to ask a friend, neighbor or family member to do this for you. You never know until you ask; sometimes a neighbor's responsible child would love to walk your Beagle for a small fee and retirees and others may jump at the opportunity to be needed.
Another option is to look into doggie day care. A good facility will separate dogs by size and offer a fun experience for your Beagle where he can play and be taken care of, which relieves all stressors.
Even one or two days a week of this will help as the number of stressful days will be reduced. If you opt for one day a week, we would suggest a Wednesday, in order to break up the week, which gives a Beagle only two days in a row that he must be alone.
To Summarize, items that will help you set up the right environment are:
A gated area
A good canine bed
Untippable water bowl or fountain to encourge water consumption