Anyone who owns a large dog knows what counter surfing is. For those of you who don’t: it is when the dog puts his paws on the kitchen counter in search of anything appealing. Until you have experienced this canine phenomenon you have no idea how far a dog can extend his otherwise stubby neck when a highly valued item is just a few more inches away. Dogs stealing food from the kitchen counter is a dog obedience problem you can solve.
I consider myself an expert on the subject as a dog trainer and puppy owner I have, over the years, personally lost: baked goods, tissues, medication, a bologna sandwich and on one occasion the contents of an entire dinner plate in this manner. It can be humorous, but this habit is definitely dangerous.
Before I discuss what you can do I will explain why you should do something immediately.
I could go on and on about how embarrassing it is when you have company over for dinner and the dog runs off with the roast, or how difficult it is to clean gravy out of tile grout. But first and foremost, the reason is to preserve both yours and your dog’s health and safety with the proper dog training techniques.
Usually it is enough to point out that dogs use their paws to walk on and all dogs, on occasion, walk on poop. Then they put their paws on the kitchen counter where you prepare food. Get the picture! And what if they pull down the cookie jar; are you willing to bet your bare feet on the fact that you got all the glass up?
I understand that your health and safety might be secondary to your canine.
After all, dog owners are known for sacrificing themselves for Fido’s happiness and comfort. If this is you, then think about that cookie jar. How are you going to keep your dog from gobbling up a mouthful of glass along with the cookies? And if he has already stolen something tasty from the counter; when he goes counter surfing again, he is going to think that the medicine bottle also contains goodies. For the safety of both you and your dog; behavior modification (dog training) is needed.
There is hope, but you are going to have to do some work.
The good news is that there are as many dog training ways to stop this problem canine behavior as there are dogs. It’s called dog training. The bad news is you are going to have to take some time to figure out what works for your family puppy. Dogs tend to repeat behaviors they are rewarded for and tend to avoid behaviors that bring consequences they dislike. If your dog has a problem with this behavior, then he, at least once, must have gotten something off the counter that he liked. This was his reward. Dog physiology 101; in order to extinguish the behavior you will now have to see to it that he brings on consequences that he dislikes every time he performs the same problem behavior.
Below I have listed a few reasons you can give your dog to dislike kitchen counter surfing, but since different dogs have different dislikes you will have to keep trying until you find the dog training technique that works for you. Set the scene for your experiments when you are going to be around so you can see what your dog’s reaction is. Try not to let your dog associate what is happening with you. Use some bait (something the dog wants) to get him to perform the bad doggie behavior. And, remember to be consistent.
1. THE POT & PAN MONSTER
Your dog may not know that the very scary pot & pan monster lives on the counter. You can teach him this by setting a cookie sheet hanging slightly over the edge of the counter where he is sure to pull it down when he tries to put his paws up. By stacking a few non-breakable pots on top of the cookie sheet, you can create a very noisy scary event when he pulls it down. Use your imagination, the more noise the better. Put your bait behind the cookie sheet and leave the kitchen.
2. THE KITCHEN STINKS
A canine’s strongest sense is his sense of smell. That being said, find something the dog hates to smell (but you can tolerate) and put it on the counter where he is sure to pull himself up and take a good whiff. Possibly put it in a container that he has stolen before or something he would have to pop open to get to the good stuff, like a small plastic butter container. Your bait can be a smudge of butter on the outside. Make sure the top is on loosely so he is sure to get it open. Or, you can soak some paper towels in bad smelling stuff and put them on the counter. Please do not use anything that will make your dog ill.
3. KITCHENLAND SECURITY
If your dog does not like noise, then go to your nearest home improvement store and look for alarm devices. You should be able to find a few inexpensive, cool devises that are normally used on doors and windows. They usually have two small parts that are silent when they make contact with each other and set off an alarm when separated. Set a trap that will cause the alarm to go off when the dog steals something off the counter. If you want to get real fancy, get the one with the laser light that can be installed at the kitchen entry. When the dog passes through the light beam the alarm will go off. If your dog learns not to go in the kitchen, then he won’t be getting on the counters.
You can also go to your local pet store or search online for devices made to keep dogs and puppies off furniture (scat matt) or out of garbage cans (snappy trap) and put them on the floor or counter in the kitchen.
Good luck and don’t give up. Use your imagination. Anything that is safe is worth a try. If your dog continues his dog counter surfing then maybe you need to keep the counters clear. That would also solve the problem. If all else fails, find a good dog trainer to assist you in dealing with your dog behavior problems.