If your shoes, wallet, cell phone, clothes and socks mysteriously go missing, you might be dealing with a thief named Fido. If your puppy mistakes your belongings for his toys, you're probably not a happy camper when you discover the items covered with teeth marks and saliva. Understand that Fido might be stealing because he's bored, lonely or craving attention. To stop his behavior, teach your little rascal right from wrong and redirect his attention to appropriate toys so he leaves your toys alone.
Clean up after yourself so your puppy doesn't have access to items that are off-limits to him -- put your shoes in a closet and pick your clothes up off the floor. Alternatively, close the door to the room with the items that your puppy likes to steal or block the entrance with a baby gate. If your puppy can't get to the items, he can't steal them.
Provide your puppy with mental and physical stimulation, because raising a lazy couch potato is just asking for trouble. Also, the quality time you spend with your puppy helps prevent boredom and loneliness. Take your pet companion on walks and play games with him, such as fetch and tug-of-war. Tire him out so he doesn't have the energy to nab your belongings. Provide him with chew toys and food-stuffed dog toys, and make 10-minute obedience training sessions part of your daily schedule.
Teach your puppy the "leave it" command so you can stop him before he takes items that are off-limits. Place a dog treat in both hands. Hide one hand behind your back when your pet companion isn't watching. Show him the treat in your other hand, before closing it into a fist. When your puppy comes closer to investigate, say "leave it." When he eventually stops sniffing and licking your hand, praise him and give him the treat you were hiding behind you back. Repeat this several times until your puppy understands the meaning of "leave it."
Booby-trap the toys your puppy likes to steal. Fill an empty soda can with about 20 pennies and seal the opening with sticky tape. Tie a piece of string to the can and tie the other end of the string to the item your puppy likes to steal. Place the off-limits item on the floor and place the can on the edge of a nearby table. When your pup goes to nab the item, the can will fall and the noise will startle him so he leaves without taking the treasure.
Spray a dog repellent on the items your dog likes to steal. Your pet companion dislikes the taste of the repellent and will leave the item alone. Before applying the repellent, test it on an inconspicuous area of the item to make sure it doesn't damage it. Alternatively, sprinkle hot sauce over the item.
Avoid chasing after your puppy or yelling at him when he gets a hold of your stuff, because he might start fearing you and might get defensive.
If your puppy gets a hold of an expensive or dangerous item, bribe and distract him to get him to drop it. Throw a ball to tempt him into a game of fetch, pick up his leash to take him for a walk, or show him a dog treat or toy. Your puppy might drop the item or come over to you so you can gently remove it from his mouth.
Items You Will Need
- Baby gate
- Food-stuffed dog toys
- Dog treats
- Empty soda cans
- Sticky tape
- Dog repellent
- Hot sauce
- Quick and Dirty Tips: Dogs Who Steal Your Stuff
- Imagine Life with a Well-Behaved Dog: A 3-Step Positive Dog-Training Program; Julie A. Bjelland
- Dog Lovers Companion; Paul McGreevy
- Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images