Pet Lovers

Stop the counter surfing!

We adopted our sweet and lovable yellow lab Chloe two years ago and with her came some horrible habits (and yes, my kids like to dress her up in fake glasses). While our dear departed yellow lab Biko was a dead ringer for Marley from the so-named movie, Chloe is truly a pure-bred princess, even if she doesn’t always behave like one. We adopted Chloe from another family almost two years ago and I should have been tipped off when we went to pick her up at the family’s home and I watched her open their garbage and eat from it, in plain sight.

Other Chloe poor behavior traits: she lies/sleeps on all furniture – including couches and beds(!), snatches food out of kids’ hands (OK, Biko did that too), greets us at the door with a shoe in her mouth (without fail), and has to jump up and kiss all visitors when they enter our house, just once (marking her territory?). Typical lab in many ways.

I think Chloe’s worst habit is sneakily jumping up on the counter to grab food. She won’t even wait until we leave the kitchen sometimes – she is so quiet we won’t even notice until we see the evidence on the floor. She is non-discriminatory when it comes to what she eats – yesterday she snagged a chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven (score), and a bag of cocktail sauce, zip lock bag and all (yuck). She is so desperate she will even jump up and eat from dishes in the sink. So unrefined.

We definitely need a dog whisperer. We have tried a few strategies to get her to stop the counter surfing, but without success. We tried filling an empty soda can with coins and we would shake it every time she jumped on the counter. She didn’t care. We tried making her lie down and stay every time she entered the kitchen – too much work. My kids of course started going down the road of rewarding her with a treat to get her down from the counter. Bad move. Now we have resorted to trying to be vigilant about putting food out of her reach and waiting until she’s older and it will be too much of an effort to jump up on the counter. I am envious of friends who can put platters of food out on a coffee table as their dog walks right on by.

Any dog owners with reformed counter surfers out there? Please share your tips!


23 Responses to “Stop the counter surfing!”

  1. [...] Stop the counter surfing! [...]

  2. We totally bought something like this dog horn-it make a loud noise that startles the dog and literally stops them in their tracks. It’s just air you’re blowing but it scares them and is more effective I think than some other options.
    My dog, for the record, commits almost all of the same crimes!
    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.airhornusa.com/images/DogHornPkg.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.airhornusa.com/product_info.php?products_id%3D82&h=600&w=600&sz=105&tbnid=MbWZP2ix1WgUUM:&tbnh=93&tbnw=93&zoom=1&usg=__p_ofrDs7w_QLeyJggV3zKWkiF40=&docid=AaAKcb7_eErMZM&sa=X&ei=tw66UcXGF5KD0QHR_IDoBw&ved=0CDcQ9QEwAQ&dur=546

  3. Noreen Latshaw says:

    Our Joey, an almost 2 year old Weimaraner, does all the same things! The one thing that does discourage him (though we’re not good at sticking to the training) is a spray bottle of water. I set it to “mist” so that it’s gentle. Occasionally I have to spray, but usually as soon as he sees it, he changes his tune. It works especially well when he’s bothering kids (he loves to grab toys that are out and run) or when we’re eating dinner. If needed at dinner time, I just set the spray bottle on the table. Joey gets the message and leaves us alone.

  4. Plan B Mom says:

    Both good ideas – thanks! The trick will be getting my kids to follow through….

  5. PK Mauzey says:

    Sounds like a very strong -willed, loving dog. You might try starting over with training. What I mean is go to dog training sites on the web that show what to do with puppies. When training the dog have lots of treats ready for when they do it right. Take a deep breath on training day, say a prayer to the creator of both you & your dog. Give lots of love & repeat, repeat, repeat. We’ve had three bigger dogs over the past 20 plus years & we could always leave food out, but not right under their noses. That wouldn’t be fair, but they hadn’t taken food from people or children. Our dog now is a three year old choc. Lab who is definetely food-driven. I told her to stay. She would not mind I took her back to the same spot over & over & over to the same spot I left them the first time. Got kind of frustrating, but it was worth it. Good luck. Keep a sense of humor. Love your pet fiercely & firmly. You’ll make it!

  6. Plan B Mom says:

    Thanks PK. Update – Chloe ate half a birthday cake yesterday. Desperate measures needed.

  7. Trainer Liz says:

    Try placing double-sided tape along your counters, a couple of inches in. The dog should back off after he consistently feels the stickiness for several weeks, every time he goes to steal. Pain in the butt for the family for a few weeks, but generally pretty effective.
    That being said, Labs can be very strong-willed. You absolutely need to train him on the down-stay and give him a “place” such as a rug or dog bed to stay on. You must be one step ahead of the dog, watching carefully and every time he approaches the counter or table, you should hand-signal him pointing to his “place” along with a verbal cue. Dog training is really not work, just your time and your dog is worth that time. Most of the time, there are no “quick-fixes” in dog training and if you want results, you must be willing to give your dog consistent training. You might want to hire a professional that will come to your home to help, as these are not problems that can be fixed in a group class. I don’t recommend sending the dog away to a trainer. You need to work with the person so you know exactly what to do and it’s always a good idea to SEE how someone else is handling your dog.
    Stay away from any trainer that uses any form of rough handling or punishment-based training – your dog does not deserve that. If I could recommend a great book to you it would be “The Everything Dog Training and Tricks Book” (“Turn the most mischievous canine into a well-behaved dog who knows a few tricks”), by Gerillyn J. Bielakiewicz.

  8. idalia says:

    I use ground pepper or any hot powder spice and put all over the counter. That helped some…I do like the double tape idea!

  9. Joyce says:

    Molly (EnglishSpringerSpaniel) was allowed on the furniture – but when I bought a new pastel sofa to go into the living room (bad idea – but a room that wasn’t used often) Molly loved it! Of course, she didn’t usually go in there when we were home – because she hung out in the den with us! I think she loved getting up on the sofa and looking out the front window at an elevated height – while in comfort!

    Anyway, I put lengths of freezer paper (butcher paper, wax paper – anything with some snap to it) on the sofa, topped them with small mouse traps and covered the whole setup with another layer of paper. When Molly jumped up the snapping traps got her attention! Of course, my husband and I were in the den that one time, roared with laughter as she came slinking to join us. I reset the traps making sure the paper was in position so that she couldn’t accidentally get bitten – and eventually she tried again! Same results – but never again did she jump up on that particular piece of furniture!

    Before that I had the dust-buster lying on the same sofa because she hated that particular appliance. Tried the trap snap because I didn’t want to leave it there permanently!

  10. VANLINTINA says:

    YOU NEED TO ADDRESS THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS WITH
    CHLOE FIRST;
    NUMBER ONE; GET HER A DOG BED…THAT IS HERS AND HER
    PLACE TO GO TO THAT IS HERS!!!
    STOP DRESSING HER UP WITH DOG CLOTHES…NOT FUN FOR THE
    DOG!!! SHE NEEDS LONG WALKS, TO PLAY BALL WITH…TO THROW
    A FRISBEE WITH…TO BE HUGGED AND LOVED.
    SHE NEEDS DOG STIMULATION…IF YOU GIVE HER WHAT SHE NEEDS
    SHE WILL GIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED…..
    LOUD HONKING NOISES AND NONE OF THE ABOVE…WILL MAKE
    HER BEHAVIOR WORSE….
    SHE NEEDS POSITIVE ATTENTION…AND GET DOG TREATS…NOT
    TABLE FOOD…IT COULD GIVE HER WORMS..
    YOU CAN CONSULT A TRAINER AT PET SMART AS WELL.
    SHE IS A COMPANION WHOSE NEEDS ARE IMPORTANT ALSO!!!!

    • rmanni23 says:

      Table scraps can give her worms? Must be pretty old table scraps.They might make your dog fat, but worms? C’mon.

  11. VANLINTINA says:

    GET PEDIGREE DRY DOG FOOD!!!! IT IS EXCELLENT AND THE DOG
    IS SATISFIED ON IT…THE BAD BEHAVIOR HAS MUCH TO DO WITH
    YOUR DOG FOOD…SHE IS NOT SATISFIED ON WHAT YOU ARE GIVING
    HER…YOU TO GET ALPO DOG TREATS FOR BIG DOGS…AT WALMART OR
    FAMILY DOLLAR…AGAIN, IF YOU DO THIS AND GET HER A BED.
    REMEMBER, SHE CAME FROM A BAD PAST…AND HAS DOG NEEDS.
    SHE IS A FAMILY MEMBER TO BE LOVED.

    • Mark Wurden says:

      Finally, someone with advice I can use! My dog only countersurfs at night, when we’re all asleep. So, none of the other remedies help much. I do think the food might be the issue. Same food I’ve been giving them for years (Select Food from Costco, very good quality), but they don’t seem to like it lately. Will try the Pedigree, and see if that helps. Was thinking of switching anyway, given their attitude towards it.

      • Missy says:

        Just so you are aware, my Great Dane was on Pedigree Dry food for the majority of his life, then one day decided he didn’t like it anymore and refused to eat for several days. I spoke to a dog trainer friend, who said that Pedigree tends to include a lot of fillers and by-products. She offered Iams and Blue Buffalo as good alternatives. I switched my dog to Iams, gradually cutting it in to his old food (not good to switch foods at the drop of a hat, but rather to do it bit by bit), and that helped a lot.

    • Emerald says:

      My dog has allergies to most grains and most dog food has corn as the first ingredient. check the labels, Do you have worms from the food you eat? Yes there are some foods like onions that dogs shouldn’t eat but since I started feeding my dog chicken and rice everyday her itching has stopped and her fur is growing back. oh did I mention I fed her pedigree

      • Jenn Giacoppo says:

        Hi Emerald!
        You could also look into Rachael Ray’s Zero Grain dog food. Of course, consult your vet on your dog’s specific needs, but that might be a great option! – Jenn, RachaelRay.com

  12. The 3 rewards dogs look for from us are our eyes, touch, and voice. Counter surfing is a way for dogs to self reward themselves . So if they jump on the counter and get something they like, whether food, paper, etc, they are rewarded. Then there you are telling them to get off, looking at them and touching them. Jackpot!
    Management is the key. Make sure that counters are free of things your dog considers a “reward”. If they jump up and there is no reward from the counter or you( you ignore them) , after enough repetitions they will no longer find it rewarding. It’s like going to the refrigerator and its empty, you do it 10 times in a row and there is nothing there…you eventually don’t go back there. Dogs learn by repetition.
    The other management tool is to keep them out of the kitchen while you are cooking if possible. Redirect their attention by giving them a yummy chew bone on their place. This will then become what they do when their is food around. Hope this helps.
    Vicki Truelove CPDT-KA

  13. Heather says:

    I know some of the bigger pet stores sell an updated mousetrap trick. It’s a mousetrap design, but with a large soft plastic flap on the bar. Dogs are driven by certain things. I have a goldendoodle I’ve had since a puppy that’s always been food obsessed, then I have a pit that was adopted from a shelter that just wants praise and attention. Of course the food thief happens to be the one who’s never been food insecure. We tried for many years to break that obsession but to no avail.

    The best results come from punishment that doesn’t come from a human, otherwise they’ll just know they can do it when you’re not around. If you want to wait around you could spy on her and when she does it throw a can at her with some pennies in it. Repetition and consistency.

    Unfortunately, despite what Vanlintina says, dogs can be just as selfish as humans. My old lady goldendoodle has always had more than enough love and hugs, beds and space of her own, homemade food of the highest quality ingredients, stability and a quiet neighborhood, etc., and STILL, I guess out of animal instinct, is always looking out for number one.

  14. Cathy says:

    I have a lab that is also a counter surfer. This is my 4th lab and the only one that has ever done this. I have tried all of the above with the exception of the sticky tape – I will try that next! The suggestion of “Pedigree” dog food – which is NOT by any stretch of the imagination “excellent dog food” being a solution is absurd. I strongly suggest the poster of that recommendation do some serious research into what ingredients are and are NOT healthy and good for dogs.

    Here is hoping that the sticky tape helps us make some headway as our puppy will “steal” anything he can… placemats, mail, keys as well as any food that has been mistakenly left on the counter. He doesn’t care what he takes, just that he can get “something”! Thanks for that suggestion :)

  15. I think there exists actually some kind of spray that should be uncomfortable for dogs….maybe that is the solution.

    • Jenni Neiz says:

      Their is! We use the spray called “Bitter Apple”. it’s originally used to stop the dog from chewing on themselves but they hate the taste. What we were told to do is spray it on a piece of bread so it is soaking, and leave it on the edge of the counter. When the dog grabs it, they get the disgusting taste in their mouth and eventually, they associate the taste with food on the counter. it’s taken a while and a lot of repetition but my dog is finally starting to get it. Best of luck!

  16. Tie a piece of string to something very tasty and then tie the other end of it to a bowl full of empty soda cans or two cans filled halfway with screws or pennies (top taped up of course). Leave the tasty morsel close to the edge of the counter so that when Chloe grabs it and pulls it down the cans will come down with it and the racket should scare her enough to make her run away from the food. You will have to do this more than once! “Leave it” is a great command to teach for this behavior as well but only works when you are there to supervise and teach it. :)

  17. Elisha says:

    Seems like a nice doggy but I agree about the need to be trained.

    Also, just like Van. said in comments above, if your dog is not carefully treated it could suffer from worms in dogs.

Leave a Reply