Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How to Stop Dogs from Stealing Toys

By Linda Cole

Dogs are naturally curious about what another canine has. If one dog has something, it must be good and may be worthy of swiping. You may not have a problem at home with your dog stealing toys, but if you're at the dog park, stealing another dog's ball or toy may not be a good idea. You can stop your dog from stealing toys by teaching your dog four basic commands.

A dog doesn't know it's not nice to steal toys or that things he picks up in his mouth could be harmful to him. Basic commands help us control our dog's behavior more quickly so we can stop him before there's a problem. Start with plenty of CANIDAE TidNips treats, have patience and a commitment, and always keep it fun.

Drop it: When your dog gives up what he has in his mouth, he gets something better in return. Begin where there are no distractions. Attach a leash to his collar and let it drag on the ground. Give him a favorite toy and let him play with it for a few minutes, then show him a treat and give him the command to “drop it.” Say it only once. Your dog should obey any command as soon as you give it. If he drops the toy, give him the treat and praise. Offer him the toy and say, “take it,” wait a few minutes, then give the “drop it” command. Treat immediately when he drops the toy. If he tries to wander away with the toy, step on the leash and offer him the treat. There's nothing wrong with trying to out-wait him if necessary. He'll get the idea as long as you stay calm and patient.

Leave it: This stops a dog from picking up something you don't want him to have. With CANIDAE treats in hand, sit on the floor with your dog. If he hasn't been trained to stay, put him on a leash. Take a treat and lay it on the floor in front of him. When he starts to go for the treat, put your hand over it and say “leave it.” Remove your hand and wait for him to try and take the treat. Cover it with your hand when he tries to take it. You can do this same exercise with the treat in your open hand. When he starts to go for the treat, close your hand and say, “leave it.” This isn't a difficult command to learn.

Come: This is an important basic command every dog needs to know, and not as difficult to teach as you think. Until your dog learns to come every time you call him, don't try training him outside unless you have a fenced in area or he's on a long lead. There are a lot of reasons why you need your dog to come as soon as you call him no matter what the distraction may be. One rule to always remember: never call your dog to come and then punish him. He learns when you call his name that he might be in trouble and won't come. Always use positive reinforcement, lots of praise and make it a happy experience for him to come to you. One of the best ways I've found to teach a dog to come is to call his name, turn your back and squat or sit down. This is nonthreatening body language and will usually entice him to come. Use treats in the beginning along with praise and as he learns it's a positive experience, you can drop the treats. Running away is another option that gets him to join in on your game.

Stay: Sometimes you need your dog to stop and stay right where he is whether you're standing next to him or not. Stay is associated with sit or lie down; however, it should be taught separately. If you need your dog to stop chasing a ball rolling out into traffic, he understands the command means to stay right where you are and don't move. It means he can sit, lie down or stand while he waits. Start by having your dog sit or lie down. Wait a few seconds and then give the treat. (If he already understands either command, don't give the treat). Gradually increase the time between the command and the treat. Keeping eye contact is good because that teaches him to watch you. If he starts to look away or move, make a sound like “ah-ah” or “hey,” or click your tongue, wait a few seconds and then treat. Increase the time between the command and treat, and then practice with distractions while your dog is farther away from you. It's a little harder for a dog to learn this command, but it could save their life one day.

Photo by Schmeegan

Read more articles by Linda Cole


  1. My Border Collie had such a hard time with stay. She just can't make herself do it. We went to obedience school and everything. But she is just too nervous to do it. Great post and some really good ideas.

  2. Really good ideas, but my Hailey is a princess and a princess needs all the toys - no exceptions cause that's how princesses are. BOL(Bark out loud)

  3. Four great commands to learn for all. Lightning is still working on the stay:)

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

  4. Sigh! Eva would only come when there is treats involved!

    We have to work harder on this command.


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