Does your dog steal items? What are you doing about it? Your dog may be stealing shoes, food, stuff from the garbage… they’re stealing everything! We are going to talk about why your dog is stealing items, what to do when you catch them stealing items and some training to prevent them from stealing.

 

Types of Dog Stealers

  • Stealthy Stealers: dogs that wait until the coast is clear before stealing anything. 
  • Attention Seeking: dogs that steal something and dangle it infront of you and wait for you to chase them and play tug as you try to take the object away. 
  • Catch-me-if-you-can Criminals: dogs that steal things and wait until you engage with them in some type of fun play. 
  • The Collectors: dogs that steal things to hide them in different places around the house or in just one area.

 

What do you do when you catch them in the act?

First and foremost… NEVER CHASE YOUR DOG. If you catch your dog in the act, don’t chase them because this is most likely what they want. They want you to engage in play and fun. If you start chasing them, they will continue to do it all the time. 

Ignore your dog when you catch them stealing something. Act like you didn’t see it happen. Of course, if it’s something dangerous, you always want to act quickly and get them out of danger. If it’s not dangerous, just ignore them

After ignoring them, grab a treat and calmly walk up to your dog and dangle it around them. Once you have your dog’s attention, wait for them to release the object before giving them the treat. This does not mean you are treating your dog for a bad behavior. 

You just don’t want to pull out the toy or object from their mouth right away because it might turn into a game of tug. Offer them something more interesting than what they have. If you do that each time they steal something, you an inadvertently teach them ‘drop it’. 

 

What training is recommended to stop/prevent stealing?

Leave It

Train your dog the command ‘Leave It’. This is essentially holding a treat in your hand in a closed fist. Let your dog muzzle around your hand. When your dog stops sniffing or muzzling, open your hand and give them the treat. 

This training rewards your dog’s ‘stopping’ and ‘leaving the treat’. What you’ll notice is that every time you do that, your dog will leave it quicker by less muzzling and sniffing because they’ll realize they’ll