How to Stop Dog Stealing Things: A Comprehensive Guide

How To Stop Dog Stealing Things

Learn effective techniques and preventive measures on how to stop dog stealing things. Tackle this behavior with expert advice from The Nerdy Dog.

Dog stealing things

Welcome to The Nerdy Dog, your go-to source for all things related to dog behavior and training. In this article, we’ll delve into the common problem of dogs stealing things and provide you with effective strategies to address this behavior. Whether you’re a new dog owner or looking for ways to help your furry friend overcome this challenge, we’ve got you covered.


Dogs stealing things can be frustrating and even lead to damaged belongings or potential hazards for your pet. Understanding the root causes behind this behavior is crucial in developing effective solutions. Let’s explore this issue further.

Understanding the Root Causes of Dog Stealing

Curiosity driving dogs to explore and potentially steal objects.
Curiosity driving dogs to explore and potentially steal objects.

Natural Instincts and Behaviors

Dogs have a natural instinct to explore and investigate their environment. This includes using their mouths to grab and carry objects. Understanding this innate behavior can help us address it more effectively.

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Lack of Mental Stimulation or Exercise

Boredom or a lack of mental and physical exercise can contribute to a dog’s inclination to steal things. Dogs need regular mental stimulation and physical activity to keep them engaged and content.

Separation Anxiety or Boredom

Some dogs may resort to stealing objects as a means of coping with separation anxiety or boredom. When left alone for long periods, they may seek comfort or entertainment through stealing.

Recognizing Signs of Dog Stealing Behavior

A dog exhibiting classic signs of stealing behavior with a stolen shoe.
A dog exhibiting classic signs of stealing behavior with a stolen shoe.

To effectively tackle dog stealing, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs that your dog is engaging in this behavior. Look out for the following indications:

Hiding or Hoarding Stolen Items

If your dog has a habit of hiding or hoarding stolen objects, it’s a clear sign that they are engaged in stealing behavior. Pay attention to their hiding spots, such as under furniture or in their bed.

Aggression or Possessiveness Over Stolen Objects

Dogs exhibiting aggression or possessiveness when you try to retrieve stolen items demonstrate a strong attachment to the objects they’ve taken. This possessive behavior is a red flag and should be addressed promptly.

Sneaky or Mischievous Behavior

Does your dog exhibit sneaky or mischievous behavior when they think no one is watching? This could indicate their involvement in stealing things. Keep an eye out for any suspicious activities.

Preventive Measures to Stop Dog Stealing

Preventing dog stealing by securing objects in closed cabinets and organizing dog toys.
Preventing dog stealing by securing objects in closed cabinets and organizing dog toys.

Prevention is key when it comes to tackling dog stealing behavior. By implementing the following measures, you can create an environment that discourages this behavior:

Secure and Organize the Environment

Keep valuable or potentially dangerous items out of your dog’s reach. Use baby gates or closed doors to restrict access to certain areas. Organize and declutter your living space to minimize temptations.

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Proper Training and Reinforcement Techniques

Invest time and effort in training your dog, focusing on commands such as “leave it” or “drop it.” Consistent reinforcement and positive rewards for good behavior will help deter stealing tendencies.

Providing Mental Stimulation and Exercise

Ensure your dog receives enough mental stimulation and physical exercise on a daily basis. Engage them in interactive play, puzzle toys, and regular walks or runs to keep their minds and bodies active.

Redirecting and Managing Dog Stealing Behavior

Effective redirection and management of dog stealing behavior through command training.
Effective redirection and management of dog stealing behavior through command training.

In addition to prevention, redirecting and managing your dog’s behavior when they do steal is crucial. Here are some effective techniques to employ:

Teaching the “Drop It” or “Leave It” Command

Train your dog to respond to commands like “drop it” or “leave it” when they have stolen an object. Practice these commands consistently, rewarding them when they obey.

Utilizing Positive Reinforcement and Rewards

Reward your dog with treats, praise, or playtime when they refrain from stealing or willingly return stolen items. Positive reinforcement helps reinforce desired behavior and encourages them to make better choices.

Using Diversion Tactics and Distractions

If you catch your dog in the act of stealing, divert their attention by offering them a more enticing alternative, such as a favorite toy or engaging them in a game. This redirects their focus away from stealing.

Corrective Measures for Dog Stealing Behavior

Using positive reinforcement to correct dog stealing behavior.
Using positive reinforcement to correct dog stealing behavior.

In some cases, corrective measures may be necessary to curb persistent stealing behavior. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

Consistency in Discipline and Boundaries

Establish consistent rules and boundaries for your dog. Enforce these boundaries firmly but without resorting to harsh punishment. Dogs thrive on consistency and clear expectations.

Avoiding Punishment-Based Training Methods

Avoid punitive measures that may instill fear or anxiety in your dog. Positive reinforcement and redirection are more effective and humane approaches to modifying behavior.

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Seeking Professional Help if Needed

If your dog’s stealing behavior persists despite your best efforts, consider seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide tailored advice and specialized training techniques.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can neutering or spaying help reduce dog stealing behavior?

Neutering or spaying your dog can help reduce certain behavioral issues, including roaming and aggression. However, it may not directly address stealing behavior. Consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice.

What should I do if my dog becomes aggressive when I try to retrieve stolen items?

If your dog displays aggression when attempting to retrieve stolen items, it’s important to prioritize safety. Seek professional help to address the underlying causes of aggression and to develop a safe plan for managing the behavior.

How long does it take to train a dog to stop stealing things?

The time required to train a dog to stop stealing things can vary depending on the dog’s age, temperament, and prior training. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key. It may take weeks or even months to see significant progress.


In conclusion, tackling dog stealing behavior requires understanding the root causes, implementing preventive measures, and employing effective training techniques. Remember, addressing this issue takes time and patience. By following the strategies outlined in this guide, you can help your furry friend overcome their stealing tendencies.

At The Nerdy Dog, we strive to provide you with professional research, studies, and practical advice to assist you in understanding and addressing various dog behavior issues. Visit for more informative articles and resources.

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