My dog is a thief, or maybe could be considered a pick pocket. Maybe both. I'm working on the thief problem, but it sure is a hard behavioral problem to correct. First you should understand that my dog is as tall as my table. So when she stands by the table, and extends her nose, she can reach anything within distance. That means that if a dirty plate is left on the table, she can lick it clean. (I know...blech) But more importantly, if a loaf of bread, or a sack lunch is left on the table, she steals them and eats them! Usually she carries it out in to the back yard and rips open any plastic bags and eats the contents. Yes, she even opens chip bags. Whole loaves of bread have come up missing this way. Stinkin little bread stealer!
I really believe that animals should be allowed in the house. It actually socializes them and makes them calmer because they are part of the family, and aren't ignored in the back yard. So keeping the dog outside is not a solution for me. If I catch her in the act, then I lock her out for awhile, but that does'nt deter her from stealing the next time. The only prevention we have found is to keep the table cleaned off. After we eat, we immediately put everything away. We don't leave things where she can reach them. It's only occasionally that someone forgets and leaves a sack lunch or sleeve of crackers on the table, where she inevitably finds them.
Recently a family came to visit us. My daughter has babysat their children over the years, and is their favorite babysitter. The oldest little girl is about 8 now, and really wants to go on a mission when she is old enough. Her parents both served missions, so that probably has influenced her. When she heard that my daughter got her mission call, she wanted to come read the call for herself. So my daughter handed her the envelope and let her open just like as if she had just gotten it. While she was reading, and discussing the call, her brother and sister were playing with Sally.
Sally is very good with children. She is very tolerant and happy around them. I've never seen her even nip a person before. The kids were excited to see her and were squealing and running around, and Sally took it all in stride. The little boy found a toy of Sally's and was looking at it. He threw it for her, and she chased it but didn't pick it up. So he picked it up again. Then he was standing there looking at something else, holding the toy by his side. Sally very quietly walked over behind him and gently, very gently, slipped the toy out of his hand. lol It wasn't aggressive in any sense of the word, and I'm not even sure he noticed because he didn't even look down. It was so sly and subtle, she could rival the best pick pockets. I still kind of think I should have taken it away from her because I don't want her to get possessive about her toys. But I was impressed with how she handled the situation.
My husband isn't that thrilled with Sally. My neighbor says that her look is like brussel sprouts; either you love them or you hate them. I love her look, but my husband doesn't. But he tolerates her. But every time kids play with her and she happily plays with them, or every time my kids straddle her back and pretend to ride her and she tolerates it, I just tell them she is proving her worth. I just wonder if I could teach her to lift wallets....