I recently adopted a 4-year-old beagle who's very sweet and very high-strung. He has to be with me all the time and seems to be a nervous wreck much of the time, pacing and panting and barking at every little noise. We're new to each other, but do you have suggestions on ways I might get him to calm down a bit?
Congrats on adopting a new pet!
It takes four to six weeks for dogs to get acclimated to their new family and surroundings. However, he may be starting to show the signs of separation anxiety. Many dogs will develop this after being dumped by their owners in a shelter or to a rescue. The dogs are scared, confused, lonely and missing their former family. I would recommend a trainer to assist you in this process. If left unchecked, he could become quite destructive.
In the meantime, make sure he gets plenty of exercise. Completely wear him out.
Dealing with this may take several different types of resources to help him calm down.
There is a great product that might work called Thunder Shirt. People who do Therapeutic Touch created the shirt that will apply pressure on anxiety target areas of the body. There is also a product called Rescue Remedy that helps with dogs with anxiety or nervous behaviors.
Sometimes, white noise helps calm them, like a TV or radio left on to static or something like Animal Planet. Some will have music playing; there is music out there directed at pets.
You don't mention if he is crated or not, but you might want to try that route. He would need to be worked into it very slowly. When you leave, make sure he is tired and has some great treat, like a Kong stuffed with peanut butter, that he can have.
Work with him on training, using only positive reinforcement. This will help with the bonding and also shows what is expected of him.
There is also acupuncture — even a massage can help calm him down.
It will take several different trials to see what he responds to; it never hurts to involve a trainer. Make sure you get references from the trainer and that they use positive reinforcement. Have one come to you — don't go with a class. You need the focus to be on you and your beagle to help you work through his nervous/anxiety behaviors.
This week's expert is Kristin Tamke, founder of Behavioral Healing. Send your questions to email@example.com.