The Root of the Behavior
Often a non-hunting Beagle will start off with a bark and then transition to his howl to alert you that he has found his toy, that the mailman has arrived, or even that he heard a leaf rustle in the breeze. His howl also carries quite far, so your neighbors may also be receiving his message. The final sound that a Beagle makes is baying, which is a cross between a howl and a bark. It has a sharper and harsher sound then the bark and is not as long as the howl. He may make it when he is sad, or when he hears another dog howling as he feels compelled to join in with his song. Many dog owners report this howl being heard across breeds, and researchers sense it may stem all the way back to the wolf ancestry. Wolves, the pack animals that they are, use the howl to communicate location and to have a sense of community. All dogs bark, and all Beagles howl at some point, some more than others. But if his barking and howling becomes excessive or a nuisance then it needs to be addressed compassionately and consistently before it impacts the quality of life for both of you.
Encouraging the Behavior
Also leave him with a time-release treat, such as a peanut butter and kibble stuffed Kong. When you return, give him time to see you before you let him out of his containment and follow it up with another 30 minutes of outside exercise time. If you cannot check in with him during the day to give him a break, consider hiring a dog walker to visit. Your Beagle may also use his howl to get your attention. At first, it may be useful to know when visitors have arrived, he needs to go out, or he is hungry. But some dogs quickly learn that howling is a great way to get a reaction out of you and will take it as a sign to howl all the time. When you are home, lavish praise and attention when he is quiet and ignore him when he howls to get your attention. Any attention, even negative attention, when he barks will reinforce his barking. Some owners also use ‘bark collars’ which spray a gas or substance such as citronella to startle the dog when he reaches a certain pitch and volume. The dog quickly learns other ways to communicate his needs to you.