Why Does My Dog Steal My Stuff? Unraveling the Canine Conundrum

Dogs, our loyal companions, bring so much joy and fun into our lives. They wag their tails, give us unconditional love, and sometimes steal our stuff. From shoes to remote controls and food, many pet parents often exclaim, “Why does my dog take my things?” If you’re one of them, this article is for you.

1. Natural Instincts at Play

First, it’s crucial to understand that dogs, like all animals, depend on instincts. Many behaviors we see in domesticated dogs have roots in their wild ancestors. In the wild, canines often steal and hide food to ensure they have provisions when resources become scarce. Your dog doesn’t necessarily see your shoe or socks as food, but the instinct remains to snatch and hide items.

2. Attention-Seeking Behavior

Imagine this: every time your dog takes your slipper, you chase them around the house, trying to retrieve it. In your dog’s eyes, this might be a delightful game. The result? They get your attention, even if it’s not what you intended. Dogs quickly make associations, so if stealing leads to fun, games, or even attention, they might continue the behavior.

3. Boredom and Exploration

Dogs are naturally curious creatures. If left to their devices without proper toys or stimulation, they’ll find ways to entertain themselves. With all their unique textures and scents, your items can be quite enticing. Shoes, for instance, carry your scent and are chewable, making them an irresistible combo for a bored pup.

4. Teething Pains

The world is an enormous chew toy for puppies, especially when they’re teething. The discomfort of new teeth can lead puppies to chew on just about anything to alleviate the pain. If your puppy is especially fond of stealing and chewing your items, teething might be the culprit.

5. Anxiety and Stress

Humans have various ways of dealing with stress and anxiety, and so do dogs. Some dogs might turn to chewing or stealing personal items to cope. This is especially true if they associate the item with comfort. For instance, if they’re anxious when you leave, they might snatch up something that smells like you, finding solace in the familiar scent.

Tips to Prevent the Pilfering Pooch

Now that we’ve delved into the reasons why your dog might be engaging in this thieving behavior, here are some strategies to help mitigate the issue:

  • Engage in Regular Playtime: Dedicate daily to play with your dog, using toys and interactive games to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
  • Provide Suitable Chew Toys: Invest in good quality chew toys that cater to your dog’s age and chewing habits.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Instead of punishing them for stealing, try redirecting their attention to appropriate toys and rewarding them for playing with the right items.
  • Ensure a Routine: Dogs thrive on routine. Regular feeding, potty breaks, and playtimes can help reduce anxiety.
  • Training: Basic commands like “leave it” and “drop it” can be lifesavers. Consider seeking the help of a professional dog trainer if needed.

Does a dog grow out of stealing things?

Every dog grows out of stealing things as they become older. Day by day, the dogs become used to the same environment, and they lose interest in regular products. As a result, they discover the variation in things and start stealing.


Dogs steal for various reasons, whether driven by instinct, a need for attention, or simply out of boredom. By understanding the underlying causes and implementing the tips provided, you can build a happier, theft-free environment for you and your furry friend. Remember, patience and understanding are key. Your dog isn’t trying to be malicious – they’re just being a dog! And with some guidance, they can learn to keep their paws off your prized possessions.

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