Two brothers broke into an unoccupied house in their street to steal a carpet.
Andrew and Mark Turner, with their dog, were found by police in the house in Cornwall Street, Hartlepool.
Both brothers have a record for burglary, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Andrew Turner was given a suspended sentence.
Mark Turner was jailed because he has a more extensive record.
"The house they broke into was boarded up," said Emma Atkinson, prosecuting.
"Police received information a burglary was in process.
"When officers arrived, Andrew and Mark Turner, and their dog, were inside the property.
"Floorboards had been lifted, and there was some cable coiled on the floor of one of the rooms.
"When questioned, both said their intention was to take some carpet.
"The owner of the house said it had been broken into several times in the past."
Mark Tuurner, 46, and Andrew Turner, 48, both of Cornwall Street, Hartlepool, both admitted burglary on May 7.
Martin Scarborough, for Mark Turner, said: "His record for burglary means he qualifies for a minimum sentence of three years, unless such a sentence would be unjust.
"This was an unoccupied house, and there's no suggestion Mr Turner caused any damage, or took anything from the property.
"Mr Turner's brother relies on him for help with his care to a limited extent."
Paul Abrahams, for Andrew Turner, said his record for burglary was not as bad.
"There have been periods when he has not offended at all," added Mr Abrahams.
"His partner proved to be a stabilising influence, but sadly she died in 2015, followed a year later by his mother."
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton sentenced Mark Turner to 20 months in prison.
Andrew Turner was given an eight month sentence, suspended for two years, including 20 rehabilitation activity days.
The judge said: "The house may have been unoccupied, but it is still someone's house.
"Mark Turner, you are what's known as a 'three strikes' burglar, but I do find three years would be unjust in your case.
"Andrew Turner, you have shown that you can behave yourself for lengthy periods, and you have responded to probation in the past.
"Hopefully this sentence will nip your latest offending in the bud.
"If not, we will meet again, and I will lock you up."