Stella LOVES to carry stuff. One of the first things she did when she first came home was pick up the cat's dish and carry it around the house before stopping to clean out any last remnants of food. She continues that every day so it is always a hunt to find out where the cat food dish has been left. She loves our shoes, slippers, hats, gloves, socks and underwear and if none of the above is available she will settle for one of the many dog toys. Luckily she is mainly gentle with her treasures (other than a few of my slippers) and she has trained us to be much better at putting things away properly. When we go out walking she constantly scouts the ground for something to pick up and carry and if we are in the trails she often has a stick in her mouth. Luckily she is pretty good at dropping things when told outside and also happily gives us her treasures in the house.
I know that carrying stuff is mostly her genetics but it is also an attention seeking behaviour so its a balance to not reinforce the pattern. Riley has been very good at training me to reward that type of behaviour. When we hike he loves to search for golf balls, any small remnant piece of a ball, piece of plastic or anything he thinks I might want to take from him. He then bounces up to me with his find and tries to entice me into "playing" with him. Playing for him means trying to play keep away from me! I usually carry a squeeky ball with me to trade for whatever he has which I realize just rewards the behaviour but honestly I am stumped as to how to deal with the situation without using punishment.
Stella has been a wee bit more "naughty" these past weeks which is probably due to her age (9 months) and growing levels of independance. We also have been dog-sitting another dog for the last 10 days which means a little bit more competition for attention in the house. I am not concerned about this minor blip and know that we will work through it. I have reduced some of the extra freedoms she was earning and have crated again when leaving the house to err on the side of safety.
Last night I was booking our summer camping trip and left the room to switch over the laundry. While folding I heard a crinkle, crinkle noise so headed back and found her with the wrapper of something I was eating. She happily gave it to me and I returned to my folding. Next sound came to me and I went back to check only to discover that she was chomping on MY CREDIT CARD!!! I rescued the card but it has some pretty big teeth dimples in the plastic and some of those are on the magnetic stripe so I'm not overly hopeful that it is gonna work anymore. Yes, it was my fault for leaving it on the coffee table but really shouldn't my dogs understand how important that sacred piece of plastic is for maintaining all the wonderful comforts of their life :o). BRAT! Obviously we still have a ways to go with puppy antics.