Anyone who has every had a puppy feels frustration when there is a basket full of dog toys, but their puppy keeps taking their things and chews on them. If you are reading this I would be surprised if you didn’t suffer the loss of a sneaker, remoter control, have teeth marks in a dining room chair leg or if you haven’t had to chase after your puppy to get back a sock, a throw pillow, one of your kids toys, or any number of other times that don’t belong to your puppy.
This isn’t bad behavior (more on this later). It’s just puppy behavior. Your puppy doesn’t know the things within her reach aren’t hers.
Why do puppies steal things?
Here are the top 6 reasons puppy take things that don’t belong to them.
- Simply, they don’t know it doesn’t belong to them (even though you’ve said “no” a thousand times)
- Puppies get bored with their toys
- Teething hurts- the hard chair leg might help soothe your puppy’s gum or perhaps your soft slipper provides a better massaging feel to their gums
- Puppies explore with their mouths- if it’s interesting, they will pick it up
- They are bored
- It’s a fun game- when they take something they aren’t supposed to have and you chase them, your puppy learns taking things (anything in reach) creates a fun game of chase with their person- catch me if you can!
Earlier I said this isn’t bad behavior, it’s just normal puppy behavior. You likely paused for a moment and thought to yourself, “of course this is bad behavior. They can’t just take my stuff and ruin it”.
Let me explain- all behavior serves a function. I identified the top 6 reasons why puppies steal things. All of these reasons serve a function for your puppy and mainly comes down to either being fun or helping the teething process. What you see as bad, your puppy sees as regular puppy behavior.
If you can think of behaviors as “desired behaviors” (things you would like your puppy to do or things you feel are appropriate) or “undesired behaviors” (things your puppy does that serves a functional purpose for them, but you would prefer they had a different outlet to fulfill that needs), you will find yourself becoming less frustrated with your puppy, and more of a problems solver with how to meet their needs.
How Do I Stop My Puppy From stealing things?
- Puppy proof your house
- Ensure you have plenty of long-lasting edible goodies (stuff KONG, bully sticks, marrow bones, Ostrich bones, etc
- Have a variety of toys that are hard and soft to full chewing needs
- Make sure your puppy has mental enrichment opportunities during the day
- Be sure your puppy’s physical needs are being me with appropriate play and walks
- Stop playing the “catch me if you can game” when your puppy takes something (teach them giving up stuff is better than running away with it by teaching them to ‘trade’)
Your puppy isn’t stealing things to be spiteful or to make you mad. She isn’t doing it just to get your goat. Your puppy is trying to satisfy her puppy needs. The best way to keep your sanity is to use gates to prevent your puppy from going into unwanted parts of your house, close doors to rooms you don’t want your puppy to have access to, put away things that are within your puppy’s reach, and supervise her so you can redirect her to one of her toys or chews if she is getting into something she shouldn’t. Most of the times our puppies end up with something we don’t want them to have (and ruined it) is because we didn’t have proper management in place to prevent it from happening.
We are all guilty of it. Our home has had a lot of puppies come through our door. We’ve lost the occasional remote control, box of tissues, sneaker, and other items over the years. We are all human. Raising a puppy is never perfect. Despite your best efforts you will lose something during puppyhood.
Is your puppy keeping you on your toes and giving you a run for your money? Yes, help me keep my sanity!