Why does my dog “steal” things?
Most puppies and many adolescent dogs love to explore and chew, so it should be no surprise when they steal household objects. When you try to get these items back from your dog, a chase ensues because the game is fun, because the dog enjoys the attention and because the dog is reluctant to give up its newfound “treasure.” Dogs may raid garbage, steal food off tables and countertops, and enter cupboards or refrigerators, where they help themselves to snacks. Despite owner attempts to deter the dog, these behaviors continue.
When dealing with an unwanted behavior, look for the motivation. Food items are appealing on their own. Some puppies steal objects when they are unsupervised, because they have not been directed to an acceptable activity. Puppies may continue to steal because the game of chase is so much fun. Each of these motivations has a different treatment. If left to their own devices, most puppies will get into what we would refer to as “trouble.” Therefore, you should first focus on ensuring that your dog has a sufficiently enriched and predictable daily routine that meets its needs for social interactions, exercise, play and exploration. Puppies should be supervised at all times, since they could be engaging in behaviors that you consider undesirable whenever they are out of sight. When you cannot watch your dog, ensure that it is confined to an area where it cannot gain access to any objects or any areas that you consider “out of bounds.” Depending on what your dog might steal and where you do not want your dog to go, your options are to consider crate or confinement training or to arrange the environment so that the puppy cannot get to items. For example, close doors, or use barrier gates, child proofing devices or even motion sensor devices to prevent access to restricted areas and to properly monitor your home. It might also be helpful to booby trap objects with taste aversives or motion detector alarms, to teach the puppy to “stay away.” At the same time, place highly appealing non booby trapped items nearby so that the pet learns the safe and acceptable alternatives for chewing and play.
If your puppy steals in your presence, the best means of control and prevention is to leave a long leash attached, preferably to a head halter. Then as the puppy begins to approach objects that it might chew or areas that you consider as “out of bounds,” a quick pull on the leash coupled with a “leave it” command and praise for compliance will teach it to stay away.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Stealing in the First Place
A straightforward way to prevent canine thievery is to manage your dog’s environment. Here are ways to keep canine robbers at bay:
Get your dog to ‘leave’ without you removing the bowl
Repeat the same process as before, but, this time, do not physically remove the bowl — just give the ‘leave’ command. If you’ve practised the first step enough times, your dog should automatically remove its head from the bowl when you say ‘leave’.
How to Get Your Dog to STOP STEALING Everything Right Now!
Dogs are scavengers â thereâs no pretending otherwise. And some dogs embrace their scavenger nature more than others. If your dog seeks out food (and even things that are most definitely not food) on walks and snarfs it down, you know how scary that can be.Â
If the item they swallow is toxic or causes an intestinal blockage, that can mean an expensive vet visit. But more importantly, snarfing down unknown items is dangerous, which is why it is essential to have some answers to the question, âHow do I get my dog to stop eating everything?â
You canât stop people from littering and you canât control nature, so fast-food wrappers, chicken bones, toxic nuts, dead birds, rotting sticks, and barely-buried cat poo will always be around. What you can do is protect your dog from the dangers of gulping down the stuff they find.
If your dog is prone to scavenging, protecting them from trouble is a difficult but worthy challenge. Here are some ways to do it.