Charlie The Thief

We’ve got a bit of a problem… Charlie has become quite the thief! Anything that he can get that he knows isn’t his, he will help himself to. His favourites tend to be tea towels and oven gloves, whenever we leave them on the edge of the kitchen counter. He knows he is being naughty, as he goes up the counter and slowly pulls it, trying not to get our attention, then runs off under the table with his treasure.

Recently this has progressed to anything he can get hold of, usually from a surface higher than him. He thinks there is some kind of pot of gold (or pigs ears) on any surface that he has to stretch up to. I’ve read the phrase ‘counter surfer’ which seems to be the perfect description!

Last weekend we went to a BBQ party. Β There were a few other dogs there, so lots to keep Charlie entertained, but he couldn’t help himself giving the burgers a lick before they went on the BBQ. Luckily everyone else there were ‘dog people’ so didn’t mind, but I was mortified!

This is an appeal for help, any tips you have to stop him jumping up at surfaces, or stealing, please please share!

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Counter surfing at the table
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This is Charlie’s naughty face – he isn’t allowed on the sofa!
Stealing my husbands wallet!
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3 thoughts on “Charlie The Thief

  1. Our oldest is a HUGE counter surfer, and even worse he’s a resource guarder to boot – so he will steal something and then, if he deemed it high value, he would resource guard!!

    A lot of this is down to management…keeping surfaces clear, putting things above his height etc…it’s a pain but you kinda get used to it. If you’re anything like us though, there will be frequent slip-ups, and the easiest thing I’ve found is to first train a really solid ‘drop it’.

    Another option (and this turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever taught our oldest dog) is teaching Charlie to bring you the thing he’s stolen!!! This is great as it makes giving the item back *his choice*, so he won’t feel the need to resource guard. It also means you’re not constantly having to get up and take things off him hahaha!

    Just make sure you swap everything for really high value treats / toys to begin with, for either fetch and drop – you approaching when he has something, and you taking something from him, should feel awesome for him πŸ™‚

    If you only take things from him or punish him, he will think that you always want to steal his things, and can lead to him growling to tell you to keep away when he is older. Dogs don’t work in the same way we do; once they have something, it’s theirs.

    If he’s found something super good and doesn’t want to drop when you ask, I’ve found waggling a high value treat in front of Kasper (eg. ham) and saying “ready Kasper? GO GET IT!” and throwing it across the room just can’t be ignored!! If that fails, I say “let’s go walkies Kasper!” as walks trump everything for him πŸ™‚

    Sorry for writing so much, good luck with your little thief πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Great advice as always! He always hides under the table and I think he likes us to chase him. I know it’s just a game to him. I have found that getting a treat, or just his daily food and he will come running for it. I need to start using a command for this, makes lots of sense now you have said it! I just want him to stop stealing in the first place. It’s the oven gloves we always forget to put out of his reach, I suppose if we’ve just used them our mind is on hot food!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear you…I think the disheartening thing about counter surfing is that the more they do it and ‘steal’ something, the more they will try their luck…

        You can add an ‘off’ or ‘leave it’ cue, so when Charlie goes towards a surface / actually jumps up, you can call him off or away, and then reward him. If he’s really got it into his head that there’s something awesome somewhere, you can also teach him to go to a place and stay there…a bed, crate etc. I know sometimes Kasper becomes infatuated with a surface, and even when we move everything off it he keeps wanting to jump up…we either send him to his bed or give him something to keep him busy, such as a puzzle feeder.

        Kasper is almost 6 now, and he still counter surfs at every opportunity because he has such a huge history of success with the action…we’ve very much had to learn to live with it. We keep surfaces clear as much as we can, tell him to get off, and get him to bring any stolen items to us…it’s one of his most annoying habits, and he’s full of annoying habits πŸ˜›

        Liked by 1 person

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