Goldendoodle Breeder

What is the best way to deal with stealing?


Most puppies love to explore and chew, so it’s no surprise when a young puppy steals household objects. When you try to get these items back from your dog, a chase ensues. When dealing with an unwanted behavior look for the motivation. Some puppies steal objects when they are left unsupervised, because they have not been directed to an acceptable activity. Puppies may continue to steal because the game of chase is so much fun. Each of these motivations has a different treatment.

If left to their own devices, puppies will get into trouble. It is important to supervise your puppy at all times. Keep the puppy with you and in sight. Be sure that you schedule adequate play times daily so that you are helping your puppy engage in the proper behavior. Arrange the environment so that the puppy cannot get to items. For example, close doors, use barrier gates, crate training or motion sensor devices to monitor where your pet can go.

If your puppy continues to steal in your presence, the best means of monitoring and prevention is to leave a long leash attached, preferably to a head halter. Then as the puppy begins to wander, or puts its nose into “out of bounds” areas a quick pull on the leash will teach it to stay away.

If your puppy is stealing things because the game is so much fun, then don’t play. Instead of chasing your puppy all over the house, try crouching down in a happy voice - with open arms call your puppy to you. When the puppy looks towards you, say “good puppy, come show me!” Keep up the praise as the puppy approaches. With a treat, entice the puppy to come, show the treat and when the puppy drops the stolen object, say “good dog”. Make it come closer, sit, and then give the reward.

Most importantly, never reach for your puppy in anger after it has taken something. Remember, the behavior you want to change is the stealing, not the cowering under the table. When you threaten your puppy in that way, your risk fear and later an aggressive behavior. For some puppies if you ignore then when they steal things and try to engage them in something else instead, they may “give up” the object voluntarily.

Every effort should be made to avoid punishment for new puppies as it is generally unnecessary and can lead to avoidance of family members, at time when bonding and attachment is critical. By preventing problems through confinement or supervision, providing for the entire puppy’s needs, and setting up the environment for success, little or no punishment should ever be required. If a reprimand is needed, a verbal “no” or a loud noise is usually sufficient to distract a puppy so that you can redirect the puppy to correct behavior.