How can I stop my dog from stealing?
Dogs that steal things
off countertops, tables or out of garbage cans can
be difficult to train because they are usually rewarded
by obtaining the item they stole or getting a game
of chase by their guardian. You should never chase
a dog that has a stolen item. It is better to wait
until the dog has been distracted by something else
and ignore the dog until they drop it before you
try to pick up the item.
The easiest way to
prevent a dog from stealing is to keep things out
of her reach and dog-proof all the areas the dog
is allowed. When you first bring your dog home,
keep an eye on her at all times and do not allow
her free run of the house. The dog can be connected
to you by a four foot rope attached to your belt
or crated. The following are some suggestions to
help discourage stealing.
- For countertop
stealing, place a tasty bit of food in a paper
lunch bag. Let your dog see you do this. Tie
the bag shut with kitchen string and connect
several "shaker cans" (shaker can is an empty
aluminum pop can filled with a few pennies and
taped shut) to the string in succession. Leave
the bag close to the edge of the counter and
leave the room. When your dog makes the grab
for the bag and pulls it off the countertop,
the shaker can will come with, and startle the
- Keep a long line
on the dog in the house, and as she approaches
a desired item, use a deeper voice than normal
to give your cue, "LEAVE IT" or "OFF!".
- Use a shaker can
to produce noise as she reaches for the object,
but she should not see you using the can. It
will be more effective if she thinks the noise
is independent of you and associated with reaching
for desired objects instead.
- Cookie sheets can
also be placed along countertops so that they
create a "false edge." When the dog jumps up
the cookie sheets will fall creating a loud
noise. Double-sided sticky tape can also be
used on the edges of countertops, as some dogs
will not like the feeling on their paws when
they jump up.
- Snappy Trainers
look like mousetraps with a large flap or paddle.
When tripped they spring closed, make a noise
while flipping over in the air, and startle
but not harm. Snappy Trainers can be placed
on counter tops, furniture, garbage cans or
any area that you are trying to train your dog
to avoid. They can be purchased at Animal
If you would like to
work with a Wisconsin Humane Society behaviorist
one-on-one regarding this behavior topic, please
call 414-431-6173 to schedule a consultation.