Does your dog play keep away?

Keep away can be described several different ways.  It can happen when you want or need to catch your dog and they stay just outside of arms reach.  They may come to you but not close enough for you to grab their collar or put a leash on.  They may steal something in the house and take off with it which creates an ensuing game of fun for the dog as it’s chased in the house staying out of reach with its prize and tons of attention from you.

Why do dog play keep away?

This can happen for several different reasons. Here are some that we have encountered.

  1. It’s fun!  Many owners will comment on how their dog has many dog toys that are out all the time.  Yet their dog prefers to play with kleenex, paper towels, rags, shoes, socks or other non dogs items in the house.  Generally when a dog is playing with their toys, their owners don’t pay much attention to this.  But the moment they dog grabs something they shouldn’t, the game is on!  They owner typically will drop anything they are doing when they notice and the chase begins to get to the dog and that they item out of their mouth.  This can teach the dog exactly what things they should grab if they want to get their owners attention right away.

  2. The dog hasn’t learned that certain items in the house are not dog toys.  Dog’s don’t automatically know which items in a house are dog toys and which are not.  We have to teach them.  Management is the easiest way to begin doing this but keeping non dog items out of your new puppy or dog’s reach and making sure to have dog items within reach.  Also rotate which dog items are out so as to keep them interesting and not boring for the dog so they are less inclined to go looking for new exciting objects to play with.

  3. Lack of supervision.  So when a dog gets a non dog item and they get to play with it on their owner without supervision if this was fun for them, they will often seek out the same object in the future.

Instead while training, keep things that you don’t want your dog to have out of reach, make a bigger deal about them playing with their toys and eventually teach them how to leave other items alone. These three main things will help create a dog that doesn’t seek out items they shouldn’t. And greatly help reduce and stop a dog who already has the habit of stealing and running off with things.