Ask the Trainer: “Counter Surfing”

counter surfing golden retriever

Older golden retriever stands with front paws on a kitchen counter.

If your puppy or older dog is stealing food from kitchen counters, also known as “counter surfing,” prevention is the most important teaching tool. When your dog finds and eats the food, it becomes the accidental reward. The yummy food reward will make the behavior more likely to occur.

You can work food distractions into your obedience lessons with your pup; enforce that your dog only gets to eat if you are giving him his meal in a bowl, or giving him a treat from your hand.

Keep the counters clean when you cannot supervise. When you can supervise, train your dog that counter food is off limits. Place a leash on your puppy, and let it drag. Place tempting food on the counter just out of his reach; if you see him attempting to jump up or even thinking about jumping up, tell him “NO” and use the leash to direct him out of the kitchen. Practice counter surfing set-ups where you are out of sight; hide just around the corner, then appear suddenly if you hear sniffing or jumping sounds. You can also booby trap the counter with empty soda cans filled with pennies; the dog will knock them down when he goes to steal the food, and the loud noise of the cans might help deter him.

Posted on June 13, 2017 | Category: Ask the Trainer, Blog, Our Dogs