Does your dog steal things, such as shoes and socks — and then force you to chase her around to get them back?
Many owners are faced with this problem, which can start as a silly game and result in the dog becoming aggressive about giving things up. Nip your dog’s kleptomania in the bud before it turns into an aggression problem!
A dog that chews on your couch while you’re not home is not a thief. In this article, we are talking about dogs that steal things in front of you and then run away. For most of these dogs, the “thievery” is an attempt to get your attention, as opposed to a real desire to chew on the object.
Your first line of defense is to ignore them when they have stolen something. Many dogs will drop an object and leave it alone once they realize you aren’t going to chase them. Even if you are sure your dog is going to chew something up, try to ignore him for at least 30 seconds after he’s stolen it and see how he reacts. Also, if the object is something of no value, such as an old gym sock, it is better to let him have it than to continue playing the chasing game.
Many trainers teach you to trade a treat for the object, or tell your dog to “drop it” and then give them a treat. In the context of stealing, however, trading for a treat will only prolong the game for life. Remember that your dog wants attention andor food, so she will certainly continue to grab things if she knows it will get her a treat.
The best way to break the cycle forever is to commit to three weeks of having the house bare of anything to steal. This is hard, especially if you have kids, but it will be worth it in the end. If there is nothing around except dog toys and there are several weeks in which you never have to chase around/yell at your dog, he will forget about the game and move on to another activity.
Crating your dog and keeping him supervised constantly will also prevent stealing.
Teach your dog to engage in nice behaviors in order to get your attention, such as sitting, lying down or going in the crate. Set her up for success by removing the possibility of stealing objects, and you will enjoy a peaceful relationship for years to come.