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Dogs soon learn what they are allowed to take, and what is forbidden, but they may 'steal' forbidden objects like food on kitchen work surfaces, or when they want your attention, or when they're just bored. Try to keep all tempting forbidden objects out of reach or locked away. Teach 'leave' and call him to you if he looks like he is about to steal something. If saying 'leave' doesn't work alone, try a whistle recall. 


Dogs often like to 'help' us in the kitchen, but they can get underfoot, are at risk from boiling water, and may help themselves to food (counter surfing). It makes sense to have them settle outside the kitchen, on a mat or in a basket, unless you're lucky enough to have enough space in your kitchen to settle them there. 

Your dog may refrain from stealing when you're in the same room, but steal when he thinks you can't see him. You can increase your control by setting up a camera and watching him from another room, saying 'leave' as you see him approaching a forbidden object. An alternative is to use a mirror which lets you watch the dog without him realising it. Some people use booby traps to tackle persistent stealing. The booby trap makes a clatter if a dog tries to steal, say from a kitchen work surface, or a rubbish container. Tin cans, or empty plastic drinks bottles can be rigged up using string or even dental floss. If you do this, make sure there is nothing in the trap that could hurt the dog, and that it's not too scary a trap, or he may become fearful of the place where it happened and refuse to obey you if you call him there. 

A variation on simply 'stealing' is for the dog to steal a dangerous or treasured object and start to chew it where you can obviously observe the 'crime'. If you instantly get up and chase the dog round the house, this is of course great fun for him, as in the classic pup game of 'I've got your sock'. Dogs are often very good at manipulating us, so you need to outsmart him.  If you want him to drop it immediately rather than bringing it to you, try doing something very interesting, like making a meat sandwich, so he forgets and drops the object and comes to you.

If your dog often steals, think of how you've structured his day. Does he have enough to do? Dogs do need to learn that they can't always have your attention, but on the other hand being with an owner who is often out, then is watching TV most of the time when they are home is very boring! Make sure he gets enough exercise, at least two good walks a day, and take time to play training games with him. A ten-minute game of hide-and seek, or 'hunt the titbit', both involving 'stay', can settle him before your favourite TV programme - much better than having him interrupt your viewing by getting up to mischief.