According to a poll by Dogster.com, 32.5 per cent of dogs steal food. However, for some dogs, it's not just limited to food. Strangely enough dogs will also steal things like underwear, socks and shiny things. This can seem cute at first, but ultimately it can be dangerous if your dog swallows these items.
Why do dogs steal things? Well, most dogs view the objects they steal as toys. Dogs aren't born with the notion of 'stealing' things; they just see something they want and take it. They need to be taught that it is wrong to do so.
However, sometimes dogs steal things because they crave the attention. If they do it once and they get a smile or petting in response, they will do it again for attention.
If your dog is stealing items to play with, it may be time to invest in some new and interesting toys for your best friend. Stealing an object to use as a toy is a sign that your dog is bored. You may want to take a little time to play with them, so grab one of their toys and renew their interest in it.
If you have a chronic stealer already, do not constantly chase after them. This makes the whole affair a game. Instead, try calling them back and offering a treat in return for the object. Be careful though, as giving them a treat every time they get you an object can lead to blackmailing you for treats – and no one wants to be blackmailed by a dog!
The simplest way of preventing stealing is to remove the temptation altogether. This means picking up after yourself. Putting shoes in a closet and keeping your dirty laundry in a hamper – eventually they will forget about the object that they see as a toy.
For dogs who only steal food, consider switching what you feed them. Try to find a food that is more satisfying for them. A full and satisfied dog will rarely steal food right off the counter. It is also best to feed your dog before you even start cooking dinner, that way the smell won't tempt them.