Dog Training Tips | How to Stop a Dog from Counter Surfing

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Dog Training Tips

How to Stop a Dog from Counter Surfing

Dog Training Tips | How to Stop a Dog From Counter Surfing. Do you have a counter surfing dog? Here are some tips on how to stop the surf! #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Dog jumping on counter

Does your dog counter surf? Maybe you read the title of this dog blog and you have no idea what dog counter surfing is. Counter surfing is when a dog jumps on the counter or table to steal items. These items can be paper towels, food, or anything else he thinks looks like fun.

Dog counter surfing is a pretty typical behavior for medium- to large-breed dogs. Let’s look at it from the dog’s perspective. He smells something tasty in the air and that incredible canine nose leads him to the counter. His nose reaches up, followed by his front paws. He then either snatches the delight or uses his paw to stretch and reach the forbidden fruit. Success! You have successfully taught your dog to counter surf.

How to Stop a Dog from Counter Surfing

Remember the scenario above? Now, envision your dog placing those two paws on the counter but he cannot get the prize. No matter what he does, the food, paper towel, or whatever it is remains just out of his grasp. Each and every time he tries to snatch something from the counter, he is unsuccessful. If he is unsuccessful 100% of the time, the behavior will extinguish as he realizes there is nothing to gain.

Don’t Teach Your Dog to Play the Slots

You may try really hard to keep your counter clean, but if you ever aren’t successful, and your dog is, you just taught him how to play the slot machine. He knows 1 out of 100 times he will gain a prize, so he will continue to be a counter surfer, and may even become a bit obsessive searching the counters.

Dog Training Tips | How to Stop a Dog From Counter Surfing. Do you have a counter surfing dog? Here are some tips on how to stop the surf! #raisingyourpetsnaturally
Winner!

Management, Training, and Dog Counter Surfing Deterrent

Management is always your friend in dog training. Remember, it is so important to ensure your dog is always unsuccessful in his attempts to steal stuff.

Management Options to Consider

I don’t typically—OK, I can’t think of a single time ever—recommend any kind of dog counter surfing deterrent. I’m a firm believer in training a dog to do what you want instead of punishing him because you didn’t train him. Anything a dog can perceive as scary, painful, or unpleasant has a risk of inducing generalized anxiety or fear of a room, object, or you. This is never a good solution. I would rather see a pet parent have a great management protocol instead of using something that has the potential to cause emotional or physical harm.

Rewards Are in the Eyes of the Beholder

My final thought on dog counter surfing is to remember that counter surfing is about a dog receiving a reward. Dexter, my 15.5” tall dog has a bit of a counter surfing history. It took me awhile to figure out why Dexter kept jumping up to the counter even though he never received a reward….or so I thought.

I then started to think about patterns. Dexter had a pattern of jumping up for a few moments every time a family member placed something new on the counter, like coming home with groceries, then jumping down and walking away. Can you guess what his reward was??

SEEING! We don’t call him Snoopy Pants for nothing. He wanted to know WHAT we put on the counter. Now, if he’s around, we can quickly just show him the bag, let him sniff, and he’s done. No jumping up. Goofy boy.

It’s important to remember, dogs are dogs. They do what works. We don’t need to get bent out of shape when they’re being dogs, enjoying food, paper towels, or attention. A little training or management can go a long way toward keeping a peaceful household.


Does your dog surf? Tell me in the comments.

Dog Training Tips | How to Stop a Dog From Counter Surfing. Do you have a counter surfing dog? Here are some tips on how to stop the surf! #raisingyourpetsnaturally #dogtraining #dogtrainingtips #positivedogtraining
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