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!

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Rachael Ray