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Is something seriously wrong with my dog Riley?

As most of you know, Riley has been the naughtiest Irish Setter in the whole world from birth.

Over the last few weeks he has been acting very strange and we are a bit scared. When we tell him to stop doing naughty things, he stops. When he is up at the table or worktops and we tell him to get down, he does. We can even sit at the kitchen table and eat our dinner without him jumping up and stealing our food even if it is before he has had his dinner.

What is going on with him and how did this happen.

Have any of you Setter owners experienced this strange behaviour in any of the dogs you own?

He seems to be changing into an obedient dog, well almost. (Or at least getting much better).

What should we do about his strange behaviour?

Have you heard of this happening with any other dog before?

Any help or advice you can offer will be welcome.


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Today was a very strange day. My wife had a sandwich on the table and walked out of the room. When she returned she was shocked to find the sandwich still on the plate. Riley had not stolen it although he was in the room and was not even sleeping. He has changed so much in the last few weeks. Do I trust him now, NO.

Andy it does sometimes happen that an Irish Setter gives up stealing or never steals (or borrows) food. My first Shilo never did steal food....once left a steak on the table as had to run help a neighbor who was ill and came back two hours later and steak was right where I left it. If he licked it I have no idea but steak was still there.  Our Molly does not steal food ever....when she came home she had never been in a house before and was a year old so it was all new to her.  She does borrow her tea towel and one potholder ( don't tell her they belong to her and I never use them).  The only thing I can come up with is that all my borrowers were the Irish I had when my girls were growing up...competition? Some were very cunning  in tricking my oldest daughter over and over so they could borrow and devour her sandwich much to our amusement that she never seemed to learn!!  They all have their own little antics to keep us amused and on our toes so just enjoy.  I do trust Molly here around food unless you drop it on the floor...look see and it is gone! 

Hi Sherry.

I think you are very lucky to have an IS that you can trust. We have owned them for about 30 years and they have all been borrowers, but some more than others. Riley has always been number one at stealing. He was so bad at one time and acted like a sea gull. He would launch himself up high enough to steal from our hands. If we were carrying food (or any item he liked the look of) across the kitchen we would have to hold it above our head to stop him getting it. Although that was bad, we knew what he was like. Obviously we have been training him, or trying to, but he just would not listen. When we sat at the kitchen table to eat he would try to get our food constantly. It made no difference if we ate before or after they had been fed. Most times we would get fed up and shut him out of the room. Our garden is full of tea towels, socks and other stolen items. Our other dog is a lesser borrower.

The good thing was we knew how bad he was and were ready for him. We are not sure how far we can trust him now as he is changing into a different dog. He has started to behave and do as he is told. We are not sure if we can cope with this level of obedience! We can now sit at the table to eat and most of the time he takes no notice. Has the penny dropped? We love him to bits and he is our pride and joy, but why has he changed over the last month or so, is it a ploy?

We had a IS years ago that I think was a Pig in Setters clothing. She would steal food from our other dogs and from us, but only if we left the room. She would not steal if we were near. One day my Wife called me for dinner, but I was doing something and came in for dinner half an hour later. My roast dinner was left in the middle of the kitchen table. The dog had a good sense of humour as my plate was totally clean apart from one potato left for me. The plate was so clean with no sign of gravy at all and the only thing we could do was laugh.

They do keep us on our toes, but we wouldn't change a thing (That may be a little lie) about them.

Take heart Micawber has always taken tea towels, newspapers, shoes, plastic containers etc into the garden however we have just had a breakthrough. Although he still takes everything into the garden and returns minus said items we have just managed to 'send' him back out to retrieve them. How proud our boy is when he returns with head held high and tea towel,shoe etc hanging from his mouth. He goes straight to his bed and waits for praise and a treat at last the training is paying off - clever boy




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