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Solivagant Offline
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My dog is a thief. He keeps stealing things and destroying them. - April 5th 2014, 07:53 AM

I have a 8 month old lab. He knows very well what all things he isn't supposed to take. But he still takes them. He keeps eyeing them and as soon as we look away he takes them and runs away and hides.

This is a problem because he will be harming himself in the process. He'll eat anything that he has stolen, clothes, slippers, pens etc.

How do I put an end to this habit? Currently what we do is we tie him with the leash as a punishment. But it isn't working.



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Re: My dog is a thief. He keeps stealing things and destroying them. - April 5th 2014, 08:48 AM

Take his muzzle in your hand and give him a not-too-hard smack on the nose, saying "No!" in a loud voice. To stop a bad behavior, you need to intimidate or give them a reason to stop. Just putting him on a leash is not going to do much, just as a slap on the wrist is not going to do much for a bad child. Take away something they like or make them fear consequences, and it will deter that kind of behavior.
   
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Re: My dog is a thief. He keeps stealing things and destroying them. - April 5th 2014, 10:09 AM

Rather than smacking him on the nose, I'd suggest you give him something else to occupy himself with, a toy that he's allowed to chew on, playing with him etc.
Stealing stuff & running away with it might be a way to gather attention too, sometimes ignoring (if the item getting stolen isn't too important) can help too.
   
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Re: My dog is a thief. He keeps stealing things and destroying them. - April 5th 2014, 11:24 AM

We can't give him any toy for more than 10-15 minutes because he eventually eats them.



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Re: My dog is a thief. He keeps stealing things and destroying them. - April 5th 2014, 09:59 PM

Oh dear.

Since your lab is 8 months old, he's clearly still in the puppy stage so this behavior is natural. Although it doesn't make it less annoying and I think your clothing would agree.

You could tire him out daily by taking him for walks, playing fetch with him etc. Can you get him one of those hard chew bones? This seems to occupy them for awhile and it'd take him awhile to chew through it. Sometimes, yelling at your dog or popping him simply won't do the trick. Puppies tend to annoy the living daylights out of their owners for attention. When you're occupied with him, talking to him/yelling, you're giving him attention which may encourage his behavior again. So I suggest keeping a newspaper around, roll it up and rattle it whenever he takes your stuff. You can lightly pop him with it too if just the noise alone doesn't work. Newspaper really scares them but doesn't physically hurt them so I liked this method. If you wish, you can also do something similar by putting rocks or something in a plastic bottle and shaking it for the noise.

Hope I helped! Good luck.

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Re: My dog is a thief. He keeps stealing things and destroying them. - April 6th 2014, 02:57 AM

Hey.

I have a few approaches to this, so let's see how it goes.

First, make sure there's no underlying reason why he's stealing things. For example it might be a ploy to get attention, or he might have a sore mouth and be trying to relieve the pressure. So be sure his health is okay, and that he has enough of his own toys to play with.

Second, and this is what I have to do with my dog because she gets her teeth on everything, try to keep things out of reach. In my house we always put things in the middle of the table (not near the edges), we don't leave things on the floor, and we put all our clothes away so there are no stray socks or scarves. This mostly keeps the dog and cats away from, although of course it's not foolproof. So as much as you can, remove temptation and just keep everything out of his reach.

Punishing him is probably not going to help, so I wouldn't bother tying him up afterwards. Instead, try to catch him in the act. Like Serena said, a sharp loud noise, just enough to startle him, might be enough to deter him. You could also try a squirt of water (this works on my dog; just point a spray bottle at her and she stops whatever she's doing) or anything else that says 'I know what you're doing, and you're not meant to'.

Also, teach your dog 'leave'. I've found this command invaluable with my dog, because my entire family is clumsy and we're forever accidentally dropping things on my floor. My dog, of course, lunges for them, but you just tell her to 'leave' and she does... mostly. Like, 9/10 times. Make sure you reward the dog when they do, so that they know that NOT stealing whatever it is will actually be more beneficial.

For the bigger/less easily damaged objects, you could try some kind of chemical deterrent. There are products out there designed to stop dogs from chewing/biting, so you could just spray some of that a couple of times and see if the lesson sticks.

And of course, give him plenty of exercise. Labs love to run (when they're not busy being couch potatoes), so be sure to tire him out. That way he'll not only be happier and healthier, he may well be too exhausted to even consider thievery.

Good luck with it. Let us know how it goes!


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