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How to Stop Dogs From Counter Surfing

Updated on February 27, 2012

Treat oriented dogs think counter surfing is the greatest trick invented. They wait until the humans leave the room, stand on their back legs with front paws on the kitchen counter, and then grab any tasty food within reach. But while you may lose a fresh loaf of bread or a pot roast, you may also lose your dog. Tasty foods like chicken bones, onions, fresh garlic, chocolate and grapes are dangerous or even poisonous for dogs. Instead, within a few short weeks, you can teach her to stop counter surfing and no longer have to worry about the safety of tonight's supper.

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  1. Remove all items from your kitchen counter tops that your dog might be tempted to grab. This includes everything from food to wooden spoons to empty food containers. Wipe down the counters after each use to remove all traces of crumbs, juices, and food scents.
  2. Give a stern, guttural UH-UH each time she tries to counter surf. If you are unable to make the noise (and you don't have downstairs neighbors), use an air horn or bang a metal pan with a metal spoon. Immediately give verbal and physical praise when she gets down. Your dog will associate the UH-UH with your displeasure but the loud sounds as the kitchen making scary noises.
  3. Give small, tasty treats occasionally when you know she wants to look on the counter but doesn't or when you catch her before the act. Always reward positive behavior.
  4. Gradually reintroduce distractions on the counter and give the "leave it" command. Again praise when she really does leave it.

Bitter Apple Spray

If your dog licks the counter looking for stray crumbs, spray the front six inches with a bitter apple spray twice a day for a week. The spray won't hurt her but leaves a bad taste if she tries to lick it.

All dogs are different, but most will make progress within a few days. Depending upon how consistent you are with her training and how ingrained the counter surfing was, look for training to take one to three weeks.

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    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      I've never heard the term "counter surfing," but my dog has definitely done it once or twice!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      My sister was telling me all the foods her dog had snatched from the counter or table. Time to try your tips for this.