Memorial Day Sale: Up to 40% OFF
Memorial Day Sale: Up to 40% OFF
Your Cart is Empty
Keeping your counters safe is not only important for you (hands up who's lost a meal they were really looking forward to?), but it’s hugely important for your dog’s health too. Getting their paws on something they shouldn’t could result in toxicity poisoning for your dog, and a hefty vet bill for you!
Whether your young puppy is now big enough to start exploring the new heights of your home, or you’ve noticed your dog suddenly counter surfing - this guide can help.
We’ll explore why dogs counter surf so that we can apply effective management, prevention, and dog counter surfing training techniques…all to keep those counters clean and paw-free!
Have you ever walked into your kitchen and gasped…”My dog is counter surfing!”
While at the time it’s obvious to us that this behavior is wrong, to our dogs it’s perfectly natural. And we’ll explain why.
Drilling down into the reasons behind dog behavior can be a useful approach when examining all kinds of problematic things our dogs do, as it helps us formulate a plan that combats the direct cause.
The main cause for counter surfing is usually the enticing smells of yummy food!You might be leaving freshly cooked meat, smelly cheese, or other tasty treats lying around, and for a dog with no prior counter surfing training, that’s an open invitation to investigate!
Other dogs, such as more adventurous breeds, might simply be curious about exploring this new space. This is often true of larger breeds, like huskies, malinoises, and labs, who find it easier to reach the dizzy heights of your kitchen counters.
To tackle a counter-surfing dog, you’ll need to take a 3 step approach - management, prevention, and training. This combined approach works to prevent your dog from rehearsing the undesirable behavior, whilst learning a new one.
In other words, they are discouraged from doing what you DON’T want, whilst learning what you DO want them to do.
How to prevent a dog counter surfing? The easiest way to tackle this is to simply block their access to rooms where they have the urge to counter surf.This might mean installing a baby gate in your kitchen, shutting the door whenever you are not present, or restricting their access for a matter of weeks until you have worked on the training enough o be able to trust them again.
As we said above, prevention, whilst time-consuming or slightly inconvenient in the short term, is a key part of the training process. Because the more your dog rehearses the behavior of counter surfing, the more likely they are to keep doing it in the future!
Prevention isn’t always possible, especially if you need to spend some time with your dog in the room where they often counter surf, or you have no option but to leave them in that room for a period of time alone.
In these cases, you’ll need to employ some management techniques. Firstly, you can manage this behavior by simply removing the reinforcer and/or stimulus. Ie: keep all food off counters and away in drawers/fridges/cupboards. This should remove the desire to counter surf for most dogs.
If you are preparing food, or need it to be left out, make sure it’s all well away from the edge.
If you are with your dog and notice they are about to counter surf, quickly intervene and redirect or distract them.This could involve throwing a treat along the floor or asking them to offer an incompatible behavior - such as sitting or lying down.
Now for the pièce de résistance….dog counter surfing training!
A quick reminder that the optimum training method for your doggo is positive reinforcement, which you can learn more about on our dedicated guide. So if you’re thinking of disciplining your dog for counter surfing, think again. Because this action would simply encourage your dog to perform the behavior when you aren’t present, rather than addressing the root cause!
In contrast, using positive reinforcement will allow you to fully trust your dog again, and help them feel good performing behaviors that you prefer. Win-win!
To apply positive dog training counter surfing techniques, you can use two main strategies - the ‘place’ command and training a new ‘default’ behavior.
We hope this guide helps you keep a dog from counter surfing in your home. Because we all want clean counters, happy dogs, and a better bond! Taking a positive and proactive approach to this behavior is the best way to achieve this.
Good luck, and well done to all the good doggos nailing their counter surfing training as we speak :-)
Learn how Potty Buddy™ products help pet-parents keep their homes clean and their pets comfortable.
CHECK OUT OUR MOST POPULAR CONTENT