4 Keys to Living Successfully with a Counter-Surfing Dog

Understand Your Dog

Why do dogs jump on counters? Because there might be good stuff for dogs! Dogs are natural hunters and seekers, and it's perfectly normal for dogs to look for food wherever it might be available. It's really not any more complicated than that.

Understand Yourself

It's ok to feel frustrated if your dog is a counter surfer. Yesterday I neglected to prevent my dog from licking the edge of the pizza I was building when I stepped to the fridge for more cheese-- aaaargh!

Think about how much effort you want to put into training to eliminate counter surfing. You can teach your dog to Leave It or to lie down outside the kitchen instead of being your sous-chef-- as long as you're paying attention. Of course this won't prevent your dog from eating food off the counters when you're not around.

Prevent Access to the Payoff

Even dogs who are trained not to counter surf when you're around will try it when left alone-- there really is no reason not to-- because there might be good stuff for dogs! So prevention is key:

  • Prevent access to the kitchen using gates, or set your dog up in another area of the house.

  • Put away all the good food and interesting stuff, so when your dog checks the counters, there is no payoff. Many dogs will continue checking even after months of no payoffs, so plan on prevention being a long-term plan.

Work on New Habits

  • Set your dog up with a mat or bed outside the kitchen, and reward them for staying there. You can toss treats every so often, or give your dog a long-lasting chew or frozen food toy to occupy them while you're cooking.

  • Avoid giving dog treats or food in the kitchen to make it a less rewarding place to be.

  • Form a new habit of putting food away-- my kitchen is cleaner than ever!

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