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.
Teach a really good retrieve.
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.
Practice Toy Switch, being able to switch between two toys is such a valuable skill that transfers across other areas of their lives. You are teaching them the ability to disengage.
Teach Nose Target Touch as a prevention tool. Guide them away from something by asking them to do a fun game. Instead of saying “no” or “leave” and telling them NOT to do something, we want to offer them the opportunity to do something else, something fun that they love doing. When competing with the environment this is vital and the best way to get real life results.