puppy training cheltenham

Arrgh! My Dog Keeps ‘Stealing’ Things …


dog behaviour training cheltenham
dog behaviour

Does your dog run off with the remote or your slippers?   Do you wonder why?  Wish you could get Fido to ‘give up’ the ‘stolen’ items?

Here are a a few handy tricks to help you do just that!

  1. Consider WHY your dog is ‘stealing’ items.

I put ‘stealing’ in inverted commas because its unlikely your dog is hell bent on a course of crime.  More likely, Fido has worked out that taking things is an effective strategy to get your attention: Picture the scene you’re ‘chillin on the sofa’  – Fido is bored (he doesn’t watch tv, cant browse facebook or read a book).  Fido spies the remote, which smells of your hands and the yummy things you’ve been eating and he’s often seen you ‘playing’ with it so, he picks it up in his mouth.  You then leap off the sofa,  shouting “drop” as you try to grab the remote back.  From Fido’s point of view ‘stealing’ becomes a natty way to get your attention:  It makes you look at him, speak to him and better still give him a game of chase.  So, of course your dog is going to repeat the ‘stealing’ behaviour next time he’s bored.

  1.  Are You A “Toy Snatcher”?

puppy training Leckhampton GL53If – in addition to stealing items – your dog then runs off and hides with it, usually its because Fido thinks you’re going to snatch it from him and leave him with zilch … or something lesser:  By way of analogy imagine you saw a £20 note lying on the ground, picked it up and then I swooped in and snatched the £20 from you.  Next time I came near, you’d probably grip your wallet tightly and move as far away from me as possible!  Its a similar scenario for Fido when he takes the remote or your slippers and you try to grab them off him – Fido sees you as a bit of ‘toy snatcher’.  However, the good news is that you can change all this ….

  1. Transform ‘Thieving Fido’ Into ‘Fabulous Fido’

Get ready to play the “2-Toy-Swap”.  Here’s little ‘Ruby’ the Cockerpoo pup showing you how!

  • When your dog has taken an item, instead of going towards your dog to grab it – walk away. By doing this you devalue the object the dog has – its as if you’re saying “pah, that object is soooo dull, I cant even be bothered to look at it”;
  • Now, get a toy that Fido can have (something good in your dog’s eyes, maybe a furry tug or a squeaky toy, whatever your dog really likes). Now, start getting very interested in that toy: Talk to the toy, love the toy, go doolally over the toy!  Usually Fido’s curiosity will get the better of him; he’ll wander towards you to investigate the wondrous object you have in your hands.  Bingo!
  • Wait till Fido gets close then make the toy you have come alive: snake it around on the floor, making it dart about as if its moving prey. This is usually enough to make Fido’s jaw drop open, releasing the ‘stolen’ item he had in his mouth (hurrah!) so he can chase the exciting toy that you’re playing with
  • Its important that you now play with the toy together for a bit – preferably away from where Fido dropped the remote (put some distance between the object your dog can have and the contraband item). Our goal is to communicate to Fido that the toy YOU have will always be the most exciting one because its the one that gives him the best game.
  • Next, throw the toy – in the opposite direction to the stolen item – and as Fido chases after the toy, you discreetly pick up the stolen item and put it somewhere safe/out of sight.

The “2-Toy-Swap” Works!

You can use the 2-toy-swap any time you’re playing with Fido, it helps your dog get used to the concept of ‘swapping’ and you’ll soon find that Fido willingly gives up the toy he or she has to come play with the toy that you have. (At first it’s easiest if you have 2 identical toys so you’re offering Fido an equal swap.)  Here’s beautiful Babel the Husky pup demonstrating the game for us:  And the remote? Pah, what remote?!  You now have a fun way to teach your dog that playing a game with you is much more fun than ‘stealing’ that remote.  Clever huh?.


Article written by Joy Matthews.  If you’d like more information about the “2-Toy-Swap” or help with any other dog training challenges, contact www.joyfuldogs.co.uk