Depending on the severity of SA, it can take months to work through it but, take heart, there is hope. Because you're working, it's a bit more difficult to work on it as you can't control your time away. Is it possible for a trusted friend or neighbor to puppysit while you are out? Or, is doggy daycare a possibility for you?
In the meantime, you can work on exercises to have him feeling comfortable in the crate and alone while you are home in the evenings and weekends. First thing I'd recommend is you get yourself a copy of the book, "Don't Leave Me! Step-by-Step Help for Your Dog's Separation Anxiety" by Nicole Wilde
. She takes you through everything you need to do to manage and modify your dog's reaction to staying home alone. She also discusses nutrition, exercise, confidence building, pharmacological intervention (if absolutely necessary), amongst other important things to learn about SA.
Some suggestions as to what you can do for now until you can pick yourself up a copy (I got mine through dogwise.com):
1. Mix up your 'leaving' cues
when you are at home in the evenings and weekends. Put on your coat, pick up your keys, sit down and watch t.v.. Put on your shoes, pick up your purse or bag, then sit at a table and read the paper. Depending on the weather, leave the house in your jammies/housecoat and slippers. Wait a minute or two and re-enter before
your dog starts to panic. On weekends, pretend as if you're leaving for work (go through your regular routine).
2. Training classes:
Positive training classes are a great way to build his confidence.
Make sure your pup is getting an adequate amount daily. Beagles are high energy dogs so 2-3 hours of walking (split into two or three walks) is ideal to start with. Don't forget to mix in some training. Some off-leash playtime is also great to help him expend energy.
You can feed him his meals by mixing his kibble with some soft food and freezing in a Kong. Feed him in his crate only while you practice mixing up your leaving cues. For the days you work, leave him his breakfast in frozen Kongs as it should keep him busy for 1+ hours keeping his mind and jaw busy.
5. Crate Games
: A fantastic DVD I've come across that teaches you to teach your dog to LOVE his crate and learn to associate it with both fun and relaxation... Crate Games For Self-Control and Motivation by Susan Garrett.
Don't know how effective the following are but they are harmless and often recommended for dogs that suffer SA. Alone, they won't solve the issue but I think it can useful to add as a compliment to behavior modification.
6. Rescue Remedy
(available at most health food stores): Rub several drops several times per day on your dog's gums or on the inside of his ear lobe (do not
put drops directly into his ear). You can also add several drops to his bowl of water.
There have been studies to show that classical music, preferably simple piano, calms stressed dogs. CD's and information are available here: http://www.throughadogsear.com/research.htm#studies
(Dog Appeasing Pheromone): You can get this through your vet or pet supply store (I found it considerably less expensive at a pet store). It comes in plug-ins and spray form. http://www.petcomfortzone.com/
Please let us know how you and your pup are coming along and, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.