Stop your dog stealing and hiding objects to prevent losing valued property. Hiding, burying and general stealing are behavior issues common to all breeds. Dogs have a natural instinct to hide food and possessions, but the behavior is curable through regular training. Teaching your dog to stop hiding objects requires dedication and patience.
Hiding food and objects is sometimes done because dogs do not trust the reliability of their next food source. A wild dog hides extra food for later, and a domestic will do the same if he has reservations about regular feeding. Build trust with your dog by providing a treat when he attempts to hide food. Ignore the hiding and do not remove buried or hidden food. The dog will recognize the presence of a reliable food source and learn trust your feeding habits.
Reduce the opportunity for theft by closing closet doors and placing objects in cabinets and elevated storage areas. If the dog regularly steals the same items, make them unavailable and the dog may forget about those objects. Maintain a safe area for shoes and other common ground-dwelling items. Replace the opportunity to steal personal objects with a variety of balls and play toys.
Scent and Taste Association
Persistent hiding is difficult to cure, but playing on the olfactory system is effective. Make note of the objects your dog prefers. Retrieve the objects and place them in the normal storage area. Add a bad taste to the objects by lightly dusting them with cayenne pepper. The taste and scent prevents most dogs from grabbing that object again. This technique is also effective for spot-specific urination issues.
Train your dog to return and drop items he intends to hide with a rewards system. Make your dog sit and wait for a treat several times each day. Praise the dog when he sits on command and waits patiently for his reward. When the dog steals an item, ask the dog to sit and drop the item. When the dog successful returns the object, provide praise and a treat.
Zach Lazzari is a Montana based freelance outdoor writer and photographer. You can follow his work at bustedoarlock.com.