We have a 9-month old Parson Russell Terrier (think Jack Russell Terrier only taller). He’s a great dog… lots of energy and smart as a whip. Overall the training is going well, and he seems eager to please.
He would play fetch for hours at a time if I let him. He’s a great indoor and outdoor dog, and is a very good watch dog, as opposed to guard dog. He barks when someone or something strange comes near the house. He no longer barks at the UPS or FedEx guys since he knows them.
However there is one bad habit I am having trouble breaking and I need some advice. Like all terriers, he loves to dig and chew, and we give him size appropriate bones that he can bury in the yard. But I’ve noticed he is a very efficient thief. He especially likes to steal socks and gloves and scatter them in the yard. He doesn’t chew on them or try to bury them, he just steals them and quietly leaves them outside somewhere.
So how do I deal with this besides putting everything up beyond his reach? If I notice a shoe out in the driveway I will bring it to his attention and say ‘No’, but he has no idea what he is being scolded for. He may have taken the item an hour earlier.
Any other advice?
My advice is, get used to it. It’s a minor problem that is hard to solve, but easy to get your dog confused and not trusting you while trying to solve it. Put your more valuable things on the top shelf and wait for him to mellow out with age (give it a couple years).
You could also use this as an opportunity to teach him to pick things up and bring them to you.
He should probably grow out of it, but in the meantime keep stuff out of his reach. It does no good scolding him after the fact, but if you catch him with a sock or something then take it from him but have a ball or something to give him, and make HIS toy a lot more fun than your stuff. In other words, don’t chase him to get the sock, but offer him something much much better in trade.
You might be able to booby trap an old shoe wadded up sock or something by dousing it in Bitter Apple or hot sauce (careful w/ the sauce tho if you plan ob wearing them again!), but keeping stuff away from him is probably best.
Also, rotate his toys very few days so there’s always something “new” to play with. For occasional treats I keep marrow bones in the freezer. The ones I get are smallish, maybe 1" sections of shin bones (well, they’re small for my Lab) that I get at the meat counter. They last a long time in the freezer and take the dog a while to work through. We also now have a box o’ bones that my guys like to root through periodically. I know they’ve been bored when all the toys and half the bones are strewn around the room!
I have a golden retriever that’s a stealer, actually. She just does it for attention. She definitely mellowed out with age like Ulfreida says, but in the meantime (like the last 8 years) I have just had to make sure my clothes are in the hamper and gloves are put up high.
It’s hard to break them of this because when you acknowledge it, it gives them the attention they want. And you’re playing the game they want.
So I figured as long as she doesn’t rip stuff up, it’s ok. And I make sure my underwear is out of reach because that’s just fucking embarrassing
I also have a dog who snatches and hoards. She usually keeps a stash pile in the backyard and another one near the couch. Like ZipperJJ’s dog, she does it for attention. She wants me to chase her around the house. So, sometimes I make a big game out of it. Other times, she’s got someone’s phone or something and that needs to be rescued from her mighty jaws straightaway, so I pry her mouf open and immediately turn my back, giving her no attention at all. She’s getting better about it.
If it won’t hurt the dog, let him have it. Retrieve it later when he’s not looking so he doesn’t get a “chase” out of it. If you catch him in the act, take your thing away and immediately give him something he CAN chew on/play with. I’m also a big fan of the frozen bone-cicles. My dog loves 'em, although they only keep her busy for about an hour. Sometimes, that’s all I need. Just one precious hour. LOL
Great advice. Thanks everyone!