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I really need help with this. I have a cavalier king charles and he's 8 years old. The stealing kind of suddenly started a few months ago. When he was younger he would steal the odd sock that fell to the floor (very rarely though) and he would always give it back without a problem. But now he will steal anything from shoes, towels, shopping bags to basically anything he can touch. When we try to take the stuff from him he gets really aggressive - growling and snapping. He has never done this before so I really have no idea why he does it. He has plenty of toys and gets walked everyday but nothing will stop him stealing. We can't just move everything because he will just find a way to take something else. Can someone please help with this problem?
 

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well it didn't just happen suddenly but the stealing has gotten worse over time. He used to just take teddies off beds as I said from the first message, but when we removed the things he takes he just takes anything he can reach. As for his behaviour he usually growls when he's playing with his toys but thats not an aggressive growl. Its like he suddenly became protective of everything he takes. He will lean over the things and growl when you get close. If the problem is neurological how would a vet fix this problem?
 

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This is an older thread, so this might not be relevant anymore. I agree with the PP that a vet visit is in order.

This here from a site to give you an idea what it might be:

The very first course of action when your dog shows aggression is to visit the Veterinarian for blood work to rule out a medical problem. This is especially true if your dog's aggression appeared suddenly and is escalating in intensity.

Brain Chemistry It is possible for dogs to have a chemical imbalance just as it is with people. In humans, this manifests itself as anxiety, depression, or obsessive compulsive disorder. The treatment is also the same as it is for people - a combination of medication and behavior modification. Yes, you and your dog could both be on Prozac and undergoing therapy at the same time!

Lyme Disease Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria transmitted by ticks. It can cause sudden aggression in both dogs and humans. This culprit is often overlooked by Veterinarians, so be sure to ask for this test specifically if you think this could be your problem. Some laboratories have better tests for Lyme Disease, so be sure to ask about the accuracy as well. more...

Thyroid Dysfunction Another medical problem that can cause aggression is thyroid disfunction, an abnormality in the secretion of thyroid hormone. more...

Encephalitis Distemper and Rabies fall under this category.

Hypoglycemia, brain tumors, epilepsy, seizures, head trauma, and hydrocephalus in brachycephalics (water on the brain) are other potential medical causes of aggression. To summarize, anything that affects the brain or central nervous system can show aggression as a symptom.
http://www.caretoadopt.org/info/display?PageID=2243
 

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I know it's an oldish question, but I just wanted to mention that it's a bad idea to just take stuff out of a dog's mouth (unless it's dangerous and it absolutely must come out right this instant.) Unsurprisingly, the dog will get upset that you took away his chewy and start resisting. The best way to handle it is to use the opportunity to start teaching the "drop it" command (some people call this "leave it"). Basically, you get the dog to drop the item in exchange for a tasty treat, marking the behavior with the words "drop it" or "leave it". That way, you're not angering the dog by ripping away the chewy, possibly leading to escalation, and, it could save their life in the future if they get hold of something poisonous.
 
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