The dog behavior of stealing is actually fairly common in dogs, particularly in puppies. While it can be cute when they take your keys or a pen off your desk, it can be annoying or even dangerous when they take off with your wallet, the TV remote, or your cell phone. Here are a few reasons why your dog may be stealing your stuff, and some tips on how to stop them.

So, why does my dog steal my stuff? Possible reasons why your dog has been stealing your stuff are that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded, it likes the taste of your stuff, anxiety, boredom, or that it likes the feeling of your stuff in its mouth.

There are actually a number of possible reasons and your dog could be doing it due to a combination of them. However, there are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it and there are a number of things you can do about it.

Reasons why your dog steals your stuff

Below are a number of possible causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.

Encouraging the behavior

It could be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as extra attention, when it steals your stuff, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to try to give it extra attention when it behaves the way you want but to avoid rewarding it when it does not.

It likes the taste of your stuff

It is likely that your stuff has a strong taste and scent due to you using it. The reason why your dog carries your stuff around could be that it likes the smell and taste. This would be more likely if it tends to steal things that have your scent on. This would also be more likely if it tends to do it more when it is likely to be anxious since the scent might calm it down.

Boredom

The reason why your dog has been stealing your stuff could also be that it is bored and looking for a way to stimulate itself. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when it has not been getting much exercise and if it calms down after getting exercise. It would help to ensure that your dog is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

It likes the feeling in its mouth

The cause could also be that it likes the feeling of the stuff in its mouth. This would be more likely if it is a puppy and it is teething. It would also be more likely if it has been putting things in its mouth a lot as well. In this case, it would help to give it other things that you do not mind it chewing on.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main cause.

If your dog always stole your stuff

If your dog did not always steal your stuff, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly it could be due to things such as teething, learning that the behavior is rewarded or suddenly getting less attention than usual causing it to do things to get more attention.

What is different when your dog steals your stuff

If your dog does not always steal your stuff, it would also help to consider what is different when it does it. For example, if it does it when you arrive home, it could be due to excitement or separation anxiety. 

The body language it shows

It would also help to consider the body language your dog shows when it steals your stuff. 

If your dog shows signs of being anxious such as crying or pacing, it would be more likely that it is doing it due to something causing it to be anxious. 

Whereas, if it shows signs of excitement such as wagging its tail, it would be more likely that it does it because it thinks it will get you to give it more attention.

What to do about your dog stealing your stuff

Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to give it rewards when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid giving it things such as extra attention when it steals your stuff.

Give it exercise

Sinceyour dog might be doing it due to being bored, if it is healthy, it would help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

Give it other things to chew on

It could also help to give it other things to hold in its mouth. Things to give it would include toys or bones.

Hide your stuff

In addition to the above, it would also help to limit its access to your stuff. Perhaps, you could put the stuff into a basket that you keep out of reach. 

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.