68–71 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy
A Guide to Testing Your Puppy's Hearing :: What to Do if Your Puppy is Overweight :: Top Five Ways to Keep Your Puppy from Stealing Things :: A Guide To Earning Your Puppy's Canine Good Citizens Certificate
Top Five Ways to Keep Your Puppy from Stealing Things
Ah, the gentleman thief - nothing is more charming than Cary Grant or George Clooney as the cat burglar who always gets the diamonds and the girl. But it's not quite so charming when the thief is your puppy.
Puppies at this age are notoriously mischievous. The good news is that even when they steal something, they usually leave it intact as the goal is to get the object, not to destroy it. Although dogs do not experience emotions as we do, they do have a sense of humor and a penchant for trickery. For it takes both to take and hide something from someone just for the fun of it.
Two practical reasons your puppy is stealing things may be to get attention and to force you into playing a game of chase. You'll find it easy to determine if George Clooney has lowered himself to stealing shoes or if your puppy is the culprit. Dogs will take their booty to the same place every time. So, check his bed, around the couch and note any suspicious looking holes in the yard to find your stuff. This is an easy problem to fix with a little creativity.
Foiling Your Puppy's Thefts
Put Everything Away - This solves so many problems and will thwart your puppy's attempts to steal your stuff. It gets easier to remember to do and can be accomplished with inexpensive cubes and crates from places such as Target.
Make It Nasty - Spray items with deterrents such as Bitter Apple.
Spray It - This takes a little bit of work because you'll have to watch your puppy closely. Every time he sneaks toward an object he has stolen (yes, they do sneak), jump at him, give a firm "No!" and spray him with water. It probably shouldn't be, but it's awfully funny too.
Keep 'Em Busy - Put out those tasty chew toys like a Kong filled with peanut butter or an interactive treat toy. A busy dog is a dog less likely to get into trouble.
Don't Pursue Them - If your puppy grabs a sock and starts running while looking back at you in triumph, ignore him. Wait until he puts it down and then casually grab it again ignoring him if he grabs it first.
Making certain you are giving your puppy enough attention will also help break the thieving habit. And playing games with him that you choose will as well. These also help strengthen your bond. Keep in mind that this is normal behavior to your puppy - dogs were opportunistic scavengers in the old days and, if they could steal a meaty leg away from another dog, they did.
Remember to keep a sense of humor about this problem. It does not pay to be harsh with your pup about this. You want him to keep that mischievous side and that canine sense of humor. It is a joy to be around a playful dog and you never know when you might need him to steal back a love letter or a nasty note you wrote your neighbor when he stepped in your begonias.
Advice from Other Dog Owners
Puppies Eat Less When They are Teething
When my dog was teething his appetite decreased quite a bit. Our vet recommended adding water to his food to soften it up, which worked great. He did not recommend that we do that all the time because the hard food helps their dental hygiene. That worked for us! Ice cubes and toys in the freezer also helped (i.e. water down a rope toy and freeze).
~TALIE D., owner of Labrador Retriever