Why Do Golden Retrievers Steal Things? Understanding Their Behavior

Golden retrievers are known for their intelligence, friendly nature, and loyalty. These qualities make them excellent family pets and service animals. However, they also have a mischievous side that can sometimes lead to stealing things from their owners or around the house. This blog post will explore the reasons behind this behavior and provide tips on how to prevent it from happening.

Understanding the Motivation Behind Stealing

To effectively address this issue, it’s essential to understand the motivation behind your golden retriever’s stealing habits. Here are some of the most common reasons:

Attention Seeking

Golden retrievers love attention and might resort to stealing items to get noticed by their owners. They may be feeling bored or neglected, and taking something valuable guarantees a reaction from you.


A bored golden retriever is more likely to engage in undesirable behavior like stealing because they are looking for something fun to do. Mental stimulation is crucial for these intelligent dogs.


Dogs experiencing anxiety may steal household items as a coping mechanism, especially when left alone for extended periods or during stressful situations.


Golden retrievers are naturally playful dogs and might mistake your belongings as toys if they don’t have enough playthings of their own.

Preventing Theft in Your Home: Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is crucial in preventing your golden retriever from stealing items around the house. Here’s how you can establish firm rules:

  1. Train your dog early on what is off-limits by using verbal cues like “leave it” or “no.” Reward good behavior with praise and treats.
  2. Keep valuable items out of reach or securely stored away.
  3. Provide plenty of appropriate toys for your dog so they have no reason to look elsewhere for entertainment.
  4. Make sure your golden retriever gets enough physical exercise each day so they’re less likely to become bored and steal items.

Using Positive Reinforcement to Correct Stealing Behavior

Positive reinforcement is an effective way to correct your golden retriever’s stealing habits. Follow these steps for a successful training experience:

  • Catch your dog in the act of stealing and calmly say “no” or “leave it.”
  • Encourage them to drop the item by offering a treat or toy in exchange.
  • Praise and reward your dog as soon as they let go of the stolen object.
  • Repeat this process consistently until your dog understands that stealing is not acceptable behavior.

Providing Mental Stimulation for Your Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and subsequent stealing behavior. Here are some ideas for engaging activities:

  1. Obedience training: Teach your dog basic commands and tricks that challenge their mind.
  2. Puzzle toys: Invest in toys that require problem-solving skills, such as treat-dispensing puzzles or interactive toys.
  3. Hide-and-seek games: Hide treats or toys around the house and encourage your dog to find them using their sense of smell.
  4. Dog sports: Enroll your golden retriever in agility classes or other canine sports where they can exercise both their body and mind.

Read more: What Were Golden Retrievers Bred To Do?

Ensuring Your Golden Retriever Feels Secure

An anxious golden retriever may resort to stealing as a coping mechanism. To help reduce anxiety, try the following tips:

  • Create a safe space for your dog, such as a crate or designated room, where they can retreat when feeling stressed.
  • Provide plenty of positive reinforcement during training sessions to build confidence.
  • Maintain a consistent daily routine, including regular feeding times, walks, and playtime.
  • Consider using calming aids like pheromone diffusers, calming collars, or supplements if needed.

Read more: Why Do Golden Retrievers Sleep So Much?


Understanding why your golden retriever steals things is key to addressing the issue effectively. By providing mental stimulation, setting boundaries, and ensuring your dog feels secure, you can minimize their stealing behavior. Remember to be patient and consistent with training, using positive reinforcement to correct undesirable habits. With time and effort, your golden retriever will become a well-behaved family member who respects your belongings.

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roger stanley site owner and primary author
Meet The Author Roger Stanley

Co-owner of goldenretrievergoods.com. 15 years of experience living life with Golden Retrievers and 15 years of experience spending way too much money on them – I believe life’s not worth living without a Golden involved!

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