Every pet owner has at least one story to tell about the new puppy that “stole” the pork sandwich from off the eat outside table, or took his master’s car keys and concealed them in its bed. These stories are amusing, even endearing; but, the problem can be annoying and the behavior should be stopped. First though, a clarification of terms.
Dogs do not steal. They can, they don’t understand the principles of ownership. They only understand the concept of ownership. If something is available, and they are interested, they’ll take it unless they’ve been trained not to.
It’s fairly easy to understand why dogs take food that hasn’t been fond of them — it’s food! Dogs can be trained that is expected a dependable meal a couple of times a day, and will look forward to it. But the concept of regular scheduled meals is a human creation based on the requirement that food is always available. Dogs, in fact all animals, will eat every time they are eager and food is available.
The most straightforward way to stop 14 from taking food this is not offered is to keep all food out of reach. 14 can be trained that certain places are not available to him. He can learn to understand that the dining room table, kitchen table, and outdoor eat outside table is off limits for any reason; that front paws on the table are not acceptable behavior.
When he is so trained, food placed on these tables while you are train food around should be perfectly safe from being purloined. I wouldn’t advice that you leave a pork sandwich on any of those tables, however, when you are away during the day. It would be an excellent test of the dog’s training, but would nonetheless be do it yourself. Dogs want to take food that is appealing.
Never feed your dog from the table at which you are eating. This simply reinforces the dog’s experience of the table as an acceptable food source, and turns him into a beggar. If you wish to share some food from the table, eliminate it from the table and offer it to the dog in the dog’s traditional eating area or items.
Determining why your dog takes your personal property requires more investigation to find a reason. Often, when the dog takes something while you are watching and taunts you with it, the dog simply wants to play and is using your readily available property as a toy. This is common behavior for dogs that have learned to play games like “tug-of-war” with an old sock.
From the puppy stage, your dog should be trained that is expected that such games will be played only while using the dog’s own toys, and suitable toys should be provided to allow for these different games. If an owner succumbs to the provocation of playing pull of war with a kitchen towel, the dog will learn that she can play that game with any situation that the proprietor happens to be holding.
Again, as with food, any things that are susceptible to damage or could hurt or injure the dog should be kept out of the dog’s reach. When the dog is caught taking items, such as shoes, house slippers or other clothing normally stored on to the ground, give the dog a sharp “no” command, and then lot praise and petting on the dog for dropping the item.
Occasionally dogs will chew on available items when home alone or bored. When a dog will get suitable toys that she has been acknowledged for using, he will delay payments on to those toys for play rather than taking your personal property.