It’s an unfortunate truth that with our busy modern lifestyles that our dogs are expected to spend time alone at home while we go to work and carry out our daily routines. Some dog breeds are more tolerant of being left alone than others, and the beagle, a social and merry hound, with hunting instincts, prefers to be around people and other dogs more often than not. However, with the proper training and preparation it is possible to leave your beagle home alone.
In this article we will explore how long you can leave your beagle alone in the house, and provide actionable tips to prevent separation anxiety and loneliness and keep them safe and happy while you are away.
How Long Can Beagles Be Left Alone
When it comes to how long you can leave your beagle alone there are no hard and fast rules. However, as a guide, puppies can be left alone for less time than adult dogs, or until such time that the puppy has had adequate toilet and socialization training.
As a starting point, a beagle puppy should not be left alone for any longer than 2-3 hours maximum. In the early months of a beagle puppy’s life they will need house and socialization training, and asking a puppy to control its bladder for any longer than a couple of hours is unfair.
A puppy will need to go to the toilet every couple of hours, maybe less. If you leave your pup to pee or poop in the house while you are out it will likely set back their toilet training. Of course, you can use training aids, like puppy toilet pads, but these should be used as a last resort, else your dog won’t learn to toilet outside.
Once your beagle has a good grasp on holding its bladder for longer periods you can extend how long they can be left alone, working up to a maximum of 8 hours. Most dogs can tolerate 3-6 hours being alone at home, and some 8 hours. However, I would advise that leaving your dog alone for 8 hours per day is an exception and not the norm.
The same can be applied to socialization of your beagle puppy. In rare cases a beagle puppy will be perfectly fine to be left alone without any socialization training. However, I’d recommend thorough socialization training to ensure that issues like separation anxiety don’t creep in.
Start small, leave the room where your beagle puppy is for a short period of time, before returning, without making fuss or drama, to show that you leaving was not such a bad thing.
Gradually increase the time you leave your pup until they show no signs of stress or anxiety. The key is not to make a fuss upon your return, don’t be tempted to overly fuss your dog, you must act cool and normal and once your dog has accepted your return, you can go back to giving them a treat or scratch of the head.
How to Prepare Your Beagle to Be Left Alone at Home
Let’s rewind a little to understand the beagle breed and how their instinct and traits influence how long you can leave your beagle alone.
Beagles were bred as hunting dogs, using their strong sense of smell to hunt small animals such as a rabbit and other wildlife in its natural environment. While beagles are not the fastest dogs, they have endless stamina to be out on the hunt all day long. Beagles are also known to be stubborn and very food motivated but with an even temperament. Combine these traits and you have a recipe that doesn’t produce a dog that is ideal to be left alone.
I have seen videos of beagles opening kitchen cabinets to find food, destroying furniture because they are bored and howling their way to upsetting the neighbors.
So, how do you avoid these and other less than desirable scenarios?
I have read in many articles that the first thing you should consider is to crate your beagle to stop your dog getting up to mischief when left alone. While crates definitely have a place I’d not recommend it as a way of keeping your beagle under control while you are out of the house. Sure, an hour or so, at most in a crate is fine for a beagle, but never longer.
If you feel you have to crate your dog for more than 2 hours to protect them and your home then you need to think hard about if a beagle is the right dog for your lifestyle.
If you do use a crate, ensure it’s large enough for them to fully stand and turn around and lie down in. Start early with crate training your beagle as it’s easier to introduce new things to puppies than it is to older dogs.
Make the crate comfortable, use pet bedding or a suitable blanket for warmth and comfort, place their favorite toys in the crate and make sure they have access to fresh clean water.
Use a Dedicated Room
If your beagle is well house trained, and your beagle is well exercised and not left alone for excessive amounts of time then you can leave them in any room of your home that you prefer. If possible a small room is the best place to leave your beagle, somewhere like a boot room for example, or somewhere with a hard floor as they are easier to clean up any accidents that may happen.
No matter the room, make sure there are no hazards. Look out for exposed electrical cables, food in easy to reach places, trash cans, medicines or cleaning products, and shoes. A bored beagle is likely to be destructive! Don’t presume your beagle won’t eat bad things, because they might do!
It should go without saying, but make sure they have some comforts, much like I suggested for in a crate, and that your beagle always has access to fresh clean drinking water.
While this may sound excessive, for most it’s just about being precautious, and preventing issues. I’ll say it again, but the best way to prevent issues is to ensure your beagle is not left alone for extended periods and exercised, both mentally and physically to keep them from becoming bored.
Over time you will work out if your beagle likes to chew things or not and can perhaps be less strict with leaving items such as shoes and clothing around.
A Note on Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is when your dog becomes anxious when you leave them alone, resulting in unwanted behavior such as becoming destructive, overly vocal (baying or howling) or pee and poop in the house. Separation anxiety behaviors are not just stressful, costly and annoying for you and your neighbors, but also very stressful for your beagle.
There are a number of reasons why your beagle may develop separation anxiety, from a specific trauma to a learned behavior. The best way to avoid separation anxiety is through the training of your beagle at a young age.
If your beagle has already developed separation anxiety, try the following tips to help deal the issue;
Give Them a Safe Space Like a Crate or Room
While I disagree with keeping your beagle in a crate for long periods of time, crates are a good way to help beat separation anxiety. Done properly, crate training gives your beagle a safe place, a den like space where they can feel comfortable and safe.
Crate training won’t work if you just put your beagle in there when you leave the house for the day. You need to teach your dog to use the crate on its own accord, even when you are home, not just when it suits you when you leave the house. Over time your beagle will actually enjoy spending time in the crate, helping them to relax and reduce the symptoms of separation anxiety.
Keep Your Beagle Stimulated
The best behaved beagle is a tired beagle. Beagles have lots of stamina and energy to burn and keeping them stimulated through physical and mental activities (such as training) will help tire them out.
So, even if you have to leave your dog while you go to work, leave them a variety of toys, especially puzzle style toys like kongs, snuffle mats and treat puzzles.
Leave the radio or TV on for some background noise, leave curtains and blinds open so they can watch the world go by. Most importantly of all, it’s crucial you walk them in the morning before you leave for work, and when you get home, which leads us on to another tip.
Hire a Dog Walker or Sitter
If you know you are going out for long periods and on a regular basis consider hiring a dog walker or dog sitter to provide your beagle with extra exercise. Choose a good dog walker that understands the beagle breed and its unique traits.
A good 2 hour walk with a trusted dog handler will do your beagle the world of good, not only will they enjoy the experience the extra walk will help tire them out during the most boring part of the day.
Another option is to pop home yourself at lunch, take them for a walk and break up the day for both you and your beagle, they will love seeing you, just remember not to make a drama when you pop home as this can further reinforce separation anxiety.
Ask an Expert for Help
Finally, if separation anxiety becomes too much and you’ve tried everything you can then speak to an expert. Ask your vet for recommendations for dog trainers that specialize in separation anxiety. Be prepared for some tough times while you try to solve the problem for your dog, and remember, your beagle wants to feel relaxed, happy and healthy, it’s down to you as a responsible dog parent to help them live a happy and anxiety free life.