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Help for Counter Surfing Canines

Does your dog jump up on the kitchen counter and try to grab dinner? There are some simple tips that can help you stop your dog from "counter surfing".

Prevention and Management: We want to help our dogs not practice this behavior, as dogs who succeed in getting food off the counter will repeat the behavior of jumping up to search for their reward. Rewarded behaviors increase, while unrewarded behaviors decrease.
● Prevent access to the kitchen for a few months to help curb the habit.
● During kitchen activity when there's food on counters, put gates up or put your dog in a crate with a yummy Kong or chew.
● Put away all food or food packages in a closed cabinet, or place them further from the counter edge so that access is prevented.
● Do not leave food on an island or kitchen table, as that is easier access for the dog.
● Push kitchen table chairs in so it is harder for the dog to jump up to chair first and then the table.
● Wipe and keep all surfaces clean, so there are no crumbs or yummy drippings to lick up.
● Never feed your dog from the table or counter. Make sure all food and treats are fed low from your hand and on the floor, so he does not look to high surfaces for food rewards.
● Feed your dog in a different room from the kitchen or in their crate, so all food comes from places outside of the kitchen.

Training and Enrichment: We can train and enrich our dogs lives with a few simple training cues and games to help prevent counter surfing.
● Teach your dog the command "off" which means you want them to keep all four feet on the floor. If you see him jump up, say “off’ in a nice tone and show him a treat and toss it on the floor, praising immediately as he gets down onto four feet and gets the treat. You can also use this training cue for getting your dog "off" furniture and beds.
● Teach your dog to stay or settle on his bed or mat out of the kitchen as you cook. Start with lower distractions and work up to him being able to stay as food is prepared. See links for videos and explanations on how to teach these behaviors.
● Reward "good" behavior when you see it (e.g., When your dog sniffs the counter or table and does not jump, quickly praise him and toss treats on the floor before he might jump up).
● Keep your dog entertained when you are cooking or eating, offering plenty of chew toys and puzzle toys. Puzzle toys are toys that he has to work to get her food out of. These are great entertainment and brain stimulation for dogs.

With these few tips, your dog can soon learn that food does not come from the counter and tables, but from you for performing good behavior and having some fun. If you feel like you need help with your dog, please call a positive and humane trainer to meet with you and your dog.

Follow Dingo Dog Studio for more humane training tips for your dog!