How do I stop my dog stealing?

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Does your dog steal food from the worktops? Behavourist Claire Arrowsmith tells us how to stop your dog doing this...

"There are devices that can help to limit this problem, they can be mounted on a kitchen worktop or surface and emit a loud noise if your dog jumps up.

However, I always prefer to spend time training rather than relying on devices. If your dog really wants to steal food, because he has learnt how pleasurable it feels, then it is likely a mature dog will soon learn to ignore the sound in order to reach his prize. However, if you combine this with training then it will be much more reliable.

Adolescent dogs still have a strong desire to chew so make sure that you always leave your dog with several favoured items he can chew and play with when unsupervised (this is assuming he is not chewing due to stress from being left alone).

You can try using stuffed Kongs and activity toys that most breeds find highly interesting. Rotate these around so he stays interested and spend time encouraging him to play.

Increase the time you spend training and exercising, while introducing more distractions. Ensure that everything else is put out of his reach so he discovers that it is more worthwhile to focus on the toys available on the floor than the work surfaces that are bare.

If all these suggestions are put in place and your dog is not overly worried by noises or surprises then you may find a behaviour interrupter device helpful. Please first consider your dog's temperament and the fact that there is the potential for other problems to develop as a result of misuse or accidental trigger.

Initially arrange it so you can enter when your dog has retreated back to the floor after the alarm has sounded and then encourage him to play with his own toys. He should always be praised for making the correct choice and for leaving items not meant for him.

If you suspect that such a device may not suit your dog consider a one-to-one training session where you can learn how to teach an effective "Leave it" command and other tried and tested methods.