Dear Cesar,

My bright, affectionate six-month-old Golden Retriever named Kipper was crate-trained very early and still spends lots of time in his crate. Kipper is gentle with his mouth and wonderful with my young grandchildren. The only problem is, he’s a sneak and obsessive dog. Although he has plenty of toys, what he enjoys most is taking anything that isn’t his—dish towels, shoes, hats, newspapers, you name it—and dragging it back to his crate. Aside from the papers, he doesn’t destroy things—he just hoards them, and he knows he isn’t supposed to. He grabs out-of-reach items off counter tops, anything from cakes to medicine vials, and only when no one is looking. Although I’d prefer to give him the run of the house, I have to keep him in his crate whenever he’s unsupervised. I call him my stealth thief. Why is he behaving like this, and how can I stop him?

Cesar Millan’s answer:
Hi Jon,

Without my knowing what your dog’s daily life is like—things like how much dog exercise he’s getting—I can tell you that Golden Retrievers have an innate desire to help, and that one of the ways they do that is by bringing things. As long as a dog is awake, when he’s around you he’s observing you. He’s noticing what you touch; if you’re going to the cabinet or the counter top, he’s noticing you there. He’s in touch with what you’re in touch with, and he’s retrieving the things that remind him of you. As far as where to keep them, his crate is his only option.

With respect, I also need to tell you that your dog doesn’t know that what he’s doing is wrong. What he knows is that when he takes things, he gets a response. It seems to me that Kipper may be a little bored, and that what he’s telling you is, “I’m maturing; I need to do more.” With certain dogs, being a partner isn’t enough; it’s a pleasure, but it’s not a job—and the fact that Kipper is part Retriever says to me that he needs that job. Think of what you can do to redirect his energy and his desire to help. Look into agility or search-and-rescue training. You might even want to train Kipper to become a therapy dog. I never believe that dogs are actively trying to add stress to our lives. What I believe is that they’re trying to teach us basic life lessons.

Stay calm and assertive!

Cesar Millan


Comment on the Story Below

Related Posts

May 20, 2020

Lonely Senior Dog Unwraps A Puppy Surprise And It’s Adorable

Watching older dogs interact with younger dogs is always such a treat. But the only

July 31, 2015

Can Your Dog Read Your Mind?

Has this ever happened to you? It’s time to take the dog somewhere she doesn’t

June 13, 2017

What’s In A Breed?

Currently, there are almost 400 different domestic dog breeds that are different enough from each

Comments – Rules , Boundaries & Limitations

At Cesar’s Way , we strive to be a single pack, and packs have rules, and limitations. Here are ours for the comments:

  •  No bullying or harassment of fellow commenters. Keep it civil!
  • No foul language or obscenities, please.
  • No posting of external links

Also, please note that because of volume , we are unable to respond to individual comments, although we do watch them in order to learn what issues and questions are most common so that we can produce content that fulfills your needs. You are welcome to share your own dog tips and behavior solutions among yourselves, however Thank you for reading our articles and sharing your thoughts with the pack!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get Tips From Cesar & The Pack

Don’t get left out of the doghouse! Sign up now to make sure you’re up to date on the latest happenings!

Trending Today

Trending This Week