We have a 3-1/2-year-old Labradoodle named Rocco. He is basically a good dog, but he has a bad habit we can’t seem to break. He constantly steals stuff- socks, clothing, paper, anything he can get his paws on- and chews them and sometimes even swallows them. He even vomits stuff up sometime. We have tried everything, including hiring a professional dog trainer who was quite expensive. Nothing has worked. Can you please give us some advice?
– Frustrated Dog Owner, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Dear Dog Owner,
Your dog sounds curious and smart. Keep training him as much as possible. Trained dogs often behave better overall because the training engages and keeps their minds busy.
Next, pet proof your house, as if he is a puppy. Put clothing in the hamper, papers in drawers, books on shelves, shoes in closets, etc. I know you can’t secure everything, but secure as much as possible to remove temptation.
Finally, buy him puzzle toys. Start with simple toys like a Kong Wobbler and work your way up to more challenging puzzle toys that will engage more of his brain. When he has a puzzle toy that dispenses treats, he will more likely forget about the socks and paper. By training and engaging him in the right activities every day, he will stay engaged and eventually lose interest in the “nonrewarding activities.”
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal