Counter Surfing

How to prevent your dog from counter surfing

There’s nothing more frustrating than spending time cooking for you or your family, only to end up finding the nice meal you’ve made on the ground or in your dog’s mouth the second you turn away from the counter.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there! 

All dog owners have experienced their pup jumping onto the kitchen counter or the dining table trying to steal food and leftovers.

Luckily, there are ways to fix this behavior and make sure your doggy stops “counter surfing”. 

Why is your dog counter surfing? 

1) Your dog loves to eat

Your dog understands that the kitchen counter or the table is the place where he is most likely to find something delicious to eat. The counter is often a gold mine of treasures and surprises for them, and they know it!

2) A lack of dietary routine

The absence of a feeding routine can cause stress in your pet, who does not know when he will be fed and who fears not receiving enough to eat. Stealing food at the slightest opportunity is a way for them to reassure themselves that they will not go hungry.

3) Boredom due to lack of physical & mental activity

Counter surfing is a good way for them to either get your attention or play. Who hasn’t reacted to their dog jumping by talking to them, telling them to stop, or offering to go get their ball? Well, this is exactly what your dog is hoping for when they jump.

4) Stress & Anxiety

Like humans, dogs have a tendency to overeat in situations of stress or anxiety. This has nothing to do with their appetite, but rather with difficulty in managing their emotions when they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation.

What to do after your dog counter surfs? 

Dogs have no concept of what is right or wrong. It is therefore important not to adopt punitive methods, in which case you risk:

1) Reinforcing the behavior

Whether we have a positive or negative response, if our dog expects attention from us, then it is a win for them. Being punished reinforces the behavior and gets them attention.

2) Making them wait until your back is turned

In addition to not being able to catch them on the spot, you’ll have a dog that will take more opportunities to do things on the sly. Which also makes it harder for you to prevent bad behavior.

3) Increasing their need to be protective

If your dog has found a priceless treasure on the kitchen counter, punishing them will make them feel that you are trying to steal their hard-earned resource and that you are a threat to them. In addition to not having made your dog understand that taking food from the table is not allowed, you could create a new problem.

How to prevent your dog from counter surfing? 

1) Do not leave food sitting around

To avoid any temptation, the first thing to do is to keep food out of your dog’s reach. When cooking or serving dinner, never leave anything lying around near your dog’s nose.

2) Keep your dog busy while you cook

Instead of leaving them with nothing to do, provide them with an activity to keep their attention away from the cooking station.

3) Restrict access to the kitchen area

When you’re away (or even when you’re there), set up a “no-go” zone to keep your dog out. A baby gate is a perfect barrier to make them understand where their limits are around the house.

4) Teach your dog useful commands

Choose a command such as “sit”. By asking your dog to sit whenever he approaches the counter, your dog will learn to behave differently in this area. With commands such as “leave it” or “drop it”, it will be possible to better manage this type of problem.

5) Avoid giving them leftovers outside of their mealtime

If you have leftovers after your meal, don’t give them to your dog right away. Put the food aside to be used for their meal, as a complementary food.

6) Avoid leaving their bowl at their disposal

A dog should be fed two or three times a day, at set times. If you leave the bowl out all the time, some dogs can think that when they’re hungry, they can go and help themselves to whatever is available.

7) Do not chase your dog if it has stolen food

When your dog steals food, it is tempting to run after it to get it back, but this is a big mistake. In fact, your companion could take it as a game and this would encourage them to do it more often!

8) Acknowledge their good behaviors

If they have backed down and resisted the temptation, you can reward them in the way you usually do. A quick play session, an encouraging voice, or a doggy treat.

Has your pup been a really good dog lately? Why not treat them to a full day of fun with some fellow companions at our doggy daycare?

Our Doggy Daycare facilities are climate controlled and staffed 24/7 to ensure your dog enjoys a day of safe and fun play.