Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

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ElleCoyle96
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Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:11 am

Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

Post by ElleCoyle96 » Mon May 21, 2018 12:53 pm

Hello! This is my first post so please bare with me.

My partner and I live with his grandparents. They have 3 dogs. Oscar, a King Charles cavalier (14 years old), Chilli, a golden Labrador (6 years old) and Keeley, our most recent buy as a family who this post is about. She is a black Labrador and will turn 2 in August. Around her first birthday, she started doing this funny thing where she will steal anything she can get her paws on (tissues, shoes, socks, paper, insoles even the tab off a radiator turnstile) literally anything, run away and eat it. She acts like its a game! Which to her, it obviously is. As a family, we’ve got quite good at getting the things off her but in some cases she’ll run off, hide and eat whatever she has in her mouth and sometimes we’ll have no clue what it was! We’ve been lucky so far that we haven’t had to take her to the vets. She’s become so persistent that she’ll even take tissues out of open pockets! Most recently, she ran off upstairs without any of us knowing, and ripped up 3 sheets of important paper, ate 2 poll cards and ripped up a third and almost chewed up a prescription. She also chewed up an entire loo roll. My partners grandma will coax Keeley with food and give it to her once she’s dropped the item (if she hasn’t already eaten it) though I have realised that she’s therefore rewarding the dog for her disobedience. I understand that she thinks it’s a game, but it’s not fun for us. She gives the grandmother a heart attack every time she finds whatever it is she’s ran off with and it happens more than once a day. With two older owners living in the house, it’s hard for them to keep tabs on her all the time. But it’s also difficult for my partner and I because we both have jobs and cannot look after her constantly. She gets enough attention because she knows how to get it and she plays with the older lab (and us after work and on weekends) so I don’t think it’s boredom. But I don’t know what else it could be. How can we get her to stop?

JudyN
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Re: Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

Post by JudyN » Mon May 21, 2018 1:37 pm

Hi, and welcome to the forum :D

Could you give a complete run-down of her typical day please? Include:

- walks - how many, how long, on or off lead, what happens on them (e.g. training, ball throwing, playing with other dogs, sniffing, & so on)
- the sort of attention she gets during the day: is this basically people trying to get things off her, or are there 'proper' games, training, grooming sessions, cuddling sessions, brain games? Does she get attention when she isn't stealing things?
- mealtimes - when, and what do you feed her?
- health - any general issues, or does she seem to be fit and healthy?
- are there any issues between the dogs? Do they ever fall out, do any ever get pestered into playing, do they ever get really worked up and overexcited?
- training - what skills has she been taught, and has she been to training classes?
- is she neutered?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

JudyN
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Re: Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

Post by JudyN » Mon May 21, 2018 1:38 pm

Oh, and another question: does she ever do this in the garden or out on walks, or is it just within the house?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

ElleCoyle96
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Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:11 am

Re: Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

Post by ElleCoyle96 » Mon May 21, 2018 2:11 pm

- Yes she has been neutered.
- She has been on basic training classes, but is very well behaved and well trained. She has also been on sniffer training and the owners go over this with her once a day.
- She is often played with, gets groomed at least once a day and is always around the family whether that be humans or dogs. She gets cuddles from all of us throughout the day. Brain games are included in her sniffer training that is down daily and the owner has bought a new object that she puts uses for her feeding time once a day in which she has to use her nose to locate and eat the food.
- She is fed twice a day on burns dog food.
- She is a little overweight but the food she is currently is starting to sort that out. She has had a problem with her ears for the last couple of months but that has since gone.
- There are no other issues with the other dogs. The other lab is skittish but she has been like that since she was a puppy according to Mandy (the owner and grandmother) but still enjoys playing with Keeley.
- I can’t say much on walks because the owners often walk them when my partner and I are at work. When we’ve taken her out at the weekends she does the same thing but it’s easier to get them off her because she is on a lead. When we let her off the lead in more open places (because we live surrounded by roads and houses) she does not do it.
- She does it in mainly in the house. Though does pick up stones in the garden. I’ve already mentioned walks.

JudyN
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Re: Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

Post by JudyN » Mon May 21, 2018 3:59 pm

Thanks for your replies - I was rather hoping she just needed more stimulation and entertainment but it doesn't sound like that's the case! I'm not an expert - my dog is a thief, but nowadays only a food thief, and thankfully he never used to eat non-edibles when he did nick them. But I think to start with, you have to reduce his opportunities as far as possible - close doors to rooms with 'stuff' in, have high-sided storage boxes which everything goes in, and so on. What you really want to do is to avoid having to chase her to take things off her, but just ignore her when she has something she shouldn't have. You might even have to leave 'safe' things like loo rolls around the place just so you can ignore her when she nicks them.

Have you trained a good retrieve/drop? As my dog was guardy, I rewarded him very heavily when he brought something to me and now, if he wants attention or a treat, he often presents me with a sock, or a food container he's been given to lick out, or a woolly hat... Luckily he doesn't do it often enough to be a pain and it's obviously a better bad habit than stealing things and eating them.

Hopefully others will be along soon with some more ideas, as I know it's not easy to remove everything a dog might nick, and you can't ignore her if she's about to swallow a sock.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

DianeLDL
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Re: Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

Post by DianeLDL » Mon May 21, 2018 4:21 pm

JudyN, Made some very good suggestions.

Our dog also used to get tissues & stuff like that. Be careful since they can clog the intestines. When I was a teen, our dog would get into the waste baskets & eat tissues. Also, he would eat sticks. Took him to the vet who pulled a stick out of his rear end & had to do surgery to clear the blockage.

With our current dog, I used the video that Victoria Stilwell posted a few years ago on YouTube. She does the drop & take. We play with Sandy using balls. He’s a small dog so we can do it in the house. But, I throw the ball, and yell take it. Then, he brings it while I gave the second ball, & I won’t throw it until he responds to drop it.
Being a retriever, Keeley might enjoy that.

As the grandmother has done, it’s okay to say drop it & offer a high value treat even if it’s a ball or piece of chicken. But, give it only if she drops the item she has taken. We have done that with Sandy. He will drop Irena for yummy chicken :D

JudyN is correct by keeping items out of your dog’s reach just as one would do with a baby or toddler. Lock up items or put above her head. In hotel rooms (we travel a lot), the waste baskets go into the bathroom & door is kept closed. Keep tissues & boxes of them out of reach. If she is picking pockets, keep items that look tempting out of pockets & maybe pin pockets closed. Or not wear anything with pockets for now.

As to items like the radiator, as I used to tell new parents (in a nurse), get down at their level & look at what might get their attention & what can you do to keep out of reach. So, I would do the same for Keeley. Get on your hands & knees & look at every room from her viewpoint.

I would ask about food. Does she have a problem with guarding? If so, it might be a reason she takes items & guards them. You said she gets food in a way she needs to do something to get it. Do the other dogs try to get in on it, too?

Hopefully someone else will have some other ideas.
Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

ElleCoyle96
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Re: Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

Post by ElleCoyle96 » Mon May 21, 2018 5:13 pm

Thanks to both of you for your replies.

We do keep all our doors closed to prevent her and even have a stair gate to stop her getting upstairs where the study is - which is where we found her the other day eating paper. You can’t always stop her is the thing.

I think the drop and retrieve is a good idea and also I think it might be good to try leaving items like toilet roll around the house and ignoring her when she has it.

I will try both and let you know how we get on. In the mean time if you have any other tricks, do let me know! :)

Shalista
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Re: Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

Post by Shalista » Mon May 21, 2018 5:17 pm

ive had rubbish luck with bax stealing things. luckily once he learned the magic of the trading game he drops what he has and comes running to em for treats when i start coming towards him. the only downside to the trading game is sometimes he steals things EXPLICITLY so he can trade them for a treat.

Baxs main thievery items were socks and underwear from the laundry room. i started by managing the room and keeping it closed at all times. unfortunately i wasn't alone i nthe house so it would frequently remain open and bax would steal a sock or some undies and chew it to shreds. once the trading game was introduced he now runs around with the sock or undie and plays 'catch me' until i appear with a treat. but he never chews it anymore.
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

ElleCoyle96
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Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:11 am

Re: Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

Post by ElleCoyle96 » Mon May 21, 2018 5:24 pm

Shalista wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 5:17 pm
ive had rubbish luck with bax stealing things. luckily once he learned the magic of the trading game he drops what he has and comes running to em for treats when i start coming towards him. the only downside to the trading game is sometimes he steals things EXPLICITLY so he can trade them for a treat.

Baxs main thievery items were socks and underwear from the laundry room. i started by managing the room and keeping it closed at all times. unfortunately i wasn't alone i nthe house so it would frequently remain open and bax would steal a sock or some undies and chew it to shreds. once the trading game was introduced he now runs around with the sock or undie and plays 'catch me' until i appear with a treat. but he never chews it anymore.
Keeley has eaten socks before. I’ve found her in the morning chewing on a pair of my jogging bottoms before. She’s also run off with my partners boxer and my sports bra. She’s also eaten embrodiered pearls and diamonds off a jumper but we only knew because they appeared in her poo. Luckily she never did that again.

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Nettle
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Re: Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

Post by Nettle » Tue May 22, 2018 3:08 am

Hello and welcome

I suggest you do some research and find a gundog trainer in your area who teaches either classes or 1 to 1, using kind reward-based methods. Thus you and K will learn to change what she sees as the "reward" of finding stuff and making a chase-me game out of it to finding stuff and bringing it back for a reward, as other posters have already said. The reason I'm suggesting gundog training rather than going it alone is that you will see how to build on it for lots of fun in the future, such as hiding dummies and getting her to search for them, water retrieves, and maybe even scurry competitions. You don't have to compete to win - it's all about building that bond with your dog so that she wants to co-operate. It will also help with her recall and general manners.

Do watch a class or two before you commit, as many gundog trainers have not yet crossed the divide between old style dominance training and better, more modern methods.

Your dog isn't being 'disobedient' so don't fall into the all-too-human trap of thinking she is 'naughty'. She is just being a dog and amusing herself. Our task is to guide our dogs into more acceptable amusement.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

ElleCoyle96
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:11 am

Re: Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

Post by ElleCoyle96 » Wed May 23, 2018 4:39 pm

Unfortunately, we have used a gundog trainer before and had very little luck with him as a trainer. Over the last few days I’ve been told Keeley has got a lot better at bringing what she should have to us and dropping it. However any other tips and tricks would be welcomed! :)

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Nettle
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Re: Constantly stealing objects and eating them!

Post by Nettle » Thu May 24, 2018 1:49 am

Trainers vary like any other professional, so if you do decide to go that way in the future, always attend a class without your dog first.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

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