Has Your Pup Turned To a Life of Crime?
The Thieves Among Us!
Puppies and even adult dogs LOVE to steal stuff, it’s a great game that gets reinforced time and time again by us panicking and chasing our pups around the house. Not only can it be a lot of fun for our dogs, it can also carry a more sinister side – be it an emergency trip to the vets, or a dog that will protect its new found artefact with teeth and growling.
It’s important that we don’t become the fun police too often for our dog otherwise their new found life of crime (Stealing socks and pants) can become obsessive and out of hand. Below I’ll be listing some management techniques for avoiding rehearsal of the behaviour but what to do when you get caught out!
Rule Number One
Don’t leave your socks and pants lying around! Give a thief the opportunity and they literally can’t help themselves, when those smelly articles are lying their in your hallway every part of your pup is saying “Wow, I bet they’d chase me for AGES with that!”
Rule Number Two
Don’t chase that thief! The thrill of the chase is what is driving this behaviour in the first place and they’ve no doubt learnt you show a lot more interest in them and their “toy” when it’s a little different to all their other toys.
Rule Number Three
DO interact and play with them when they pick up their toys. These are the legal items we want our dog to enjoy and spend time with, we also want play to be a big motivator for building your relationship. Best friends are the ones you have the most fun with after all!
“I followed all the rules Lewis, but I have children and they aren’t as easily motivated with cheese or sausage and now my little puppy has a sock, I can’t live with the idea of having ANOTHER odd sock, what do I do!?”
It happens to the best of us, and we need our training in place beforehand so that when THE time comes, we’ll nail it!
To The Fridge!
Remember, we’re practicing this one when pup ISN’T halfway through scoffing a pair of pants, so that we’ve got a good chance of success.
It works like this, channelling your most Superhero-like-self point distantly towards the kitchen fridge and shout “To The Fridge!” Proceed theatrically to the fridge most enthusiastically and open it with such wonderment that your pup HAS to have something from its chilly depths. You can then pick a novel, unusual (safe) food for your pup to enjoy. You can then encourage your pup to move with you into another room or area allowing you to return to the contraband out of sight and remove it. A little scatter feeding on a snuffle mat or in the garden can help your pup forget that previous swag!
The Counting Game (Great for out on walks)
The counting game is all about showing interest in something else and activating your pups FOMO receptor in the brain (FYI this is not a real receptor). If your pup is holding onto something they don’t want to give up, be it a toy, stick or other unsightly objects you might find in the park we begin by stepping away from our dog with our back facing them.
Crouch down and begin to count out loud and dispense tasty treats. “1… 2… 3…”
You do this until your dog plods over to find out what the hell you’re up to, as they engage in scoffing up these lovely treats you move away and begin again with the treat counting “1… 2… 3…”
Repeating until your confident your pup is more interested in this new counting game than what they had before. As you progress you may want to approach the item, interact with it for a moment but then put it back or even offer it to your dog (If it’s safe to do so). What you’re teaching your dog is, you’re not the fun police, you won’t just discard or hide the item and end the game.
Remember, the more interest you show in what your pup has, the more they want to hold on to it. Unless your pup is in genuine danger, do not try to pry it from your dogs mouth – next time you may not get that opportunity as they learn you try and steal things from them.