Some dogs can get into trouble tipping trash cans over in search of food, but others are even more sneaky. These dogs end up counter surfing in order to get to foods that are left in these open areas. Whether you have a dog who jumps onto counters or taller ones that are able to reach onto counters with their paws, you can put a stop to this behavior and keep your counters safe. Keep the following tips in mind for stopping dogs from counter surfing.
You can teach dogs that staying on the floor, rather than jumping on counters or reaching onto them with their front paws, is a rewarding experience. In order to do this, you’ll need to reward good behavior, which means keeping all paws on the floor. You can accomplish this in a couple of different ways. One is by catching dogs being good and rewarding them with a treat when you see that they have all four paws on the floor in your kitchen. You can also teach dogs a command that has them go to a certain part of the kitchen while you’re busy preparing food or cleaning up. Set up a blanket, bed or another area in one part of your kitchen that’s away from the counters. Teach your dog a command, such as “go,” while pointing to the designated area. When your dog goes to that part of the kitchen, give a treat and praise as a reward. Repeat this command on a regular basis until your dog learns to listen to it right away.
Another command that dogs can learn in order to stop counter surfing is the “leave it” command. This command helps put a stop to inappropriate behavior while also keeping dogs safe. You can use this command to stop your dog from jumping or going after food on the counter in your home, but it also works well if your dog goes after something that could be dangerous. For the “leave it” command, start by giving this vocal command and waiting for your dog to put all paws on the floor. You might need to use this if your dog goes after food that other family members or guests have left on the counter unattended. When your dog has all paws on the floor, reward with praise and a treat and repeat as needed.
To make training dogs easier, eliminate the reason for them to counter surf. This means keeping your counters clear of any food, including leftovers or scraps on plates and food in packages. Keep foods stored away in a pantry or cupboard, and throw out food scraps as soon as you’re done eating. Removing the temptation of food gives dogs fewer reasons to try getting onto counters.
Avoid shouting at or punishing your dog for counter surfing. Doing this can make dogs feel afraid, which can lead to aggressive behavior, such as growling or snapping. Focus on positive training, such as rewarding good behavior, instead of getting frustrated with bad behavior or unsuccessful training sessions. Your dog will learn to listen to your commands in time, and you’ll notice counter surfing behavior gradually stop.
If you keep having a hard time getting dogs to stop counter surfing, you might want to consider professional training. This can help your dog learn proper behavior more effectively and put a stop to counter surfing for good.
For more information on positive reinforcement training, click here to read our Simple Introduction To Positive Reinforcement Dog Training.