5 Tips for dogs that run off with stolen items:
Don’t chase them or grab at them or the item, never pull something out of their mouth. Two reasons, the first is it usually becomes a fun game for your dog and they love being chased so always run off with things, second reason it can become a serious problem where they guard items and can get protective over the item (fear of losing it) and or swallow it.
Management is key, keep things out of reach and tidy up shoes, bags, remote controls away. Puppies explore with their mouths so make sure anything you don’t want chewed gets put away.
Teach a really good retrieve or fetch. Play this game with their toys, but if they happen to pick up something you forgot to put away, then just use it as an opportunity to play retrieve. Encourage your puppy to you, then reward them from bringing it back. You can either give them a treat or a play with an appropriate toy. Remember to tidy things away next time.
The counting game. Play this even when you do not need it. Completely ignore your dog during the whole game, even if they come to you for treats, just carry on going. Get a pile of treats and start counting and placing them on the floor, counting each time you place one on the ground, making a trail on the ground away from your dog. Get them far enough away from the item so you can close a door behind you and get the stolen item later. End the trail in another room or in the garden by scatter feeding to keep them busy while you go and remove item and put it away.
Remember ALSO play this game when you don’t need it, we don’t want them to pair this game with having a stolen item.
It is possible they may not follow you straight away, that is ok, just carry on from room to room completely ignoring your dog, eventually they will be interested in what you are doing and lose interest in the stolen item. Again you will ignore your dog, then scatter feed in the final room.
Teach an interruption cue to prevent them from picking something up. Pair a noise or cue such as “what’s this” with a treat and then you can use it if they look like they are about to pick up something they shouldn’t. Then remove or tidy away the item so they don’t keep going back to it.