How to Tackle Counter Surfing in Dogs

September 15, 2017
As a dog owner with over 25 years of experience, I can attest that having a dog is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in my life. The companionship and joy they bring is incomparable.

What Is Counter Surfing?

As the name suggests, this problem occurs when dogs jump on tables and counters and try to eat food from there. The interesting fact of this problem is that many dog owners fail to classify it as an issue. They feel it is only natural for a dog to search for food and try to reach for it. Many people believe it is in the nature of a predator to constantly try to get their hands on food. On the other hand, certain dog owners get really stressed because of this habit. They classify 'counter surfing' as a major disciplinary issue and seek help to fix it.

This problem is not limited to untrained dogs; even trained dogs, when left without any supervision for a long time with food around, can do counter surfing. This problem is not a very serious one, but if not detected or overcome at the right time, it can become a habit and training the dog to stop doing it will become very difficult.

Dogs are one of the most beloved pets, and dog owners take immense pride in every little thing their dog does, from fetching the stick to sitting down when asked to do so. Training a dog is an exceptional experience which teaches the owner a lot as well. This experience can get difficult sometimes, but if dealt with patiently, everything can change for the better.

For new dog owners, dealing with behavioral problems of their dog can be very difficult. Sometimes, things get so out of hand that even experienced owners have problems handling situations. Behavioral problems mean when your dog behaves differently or acts unusually. This might vary in the level of danger, but what one needs to understand is that every behavioral problem occurs due to a reason and all the dog owner needs to do is find out what caused it and work on that. Instead of using harsh disciplinary techniques, all one needs to do is understand the problem and train the dog accordingly. However, there are times you might need to change your routine and schedule to help the dog adjust.

Why Does Counter Surfing Occur?

Counter surfing is discussed in detail in the following paragraphs, but before one goes into those details, it is important to understand why a dog does it. As I mentioned before, knowing the reasons can help one remedy the problem. A dog does this when it feels hungry and believes that it will get food from that place. It might also do this when it feels that it is okay to jump on the counter and that area is not out of bounds. Lastly, it might do this because in its view, your food and its food are the same and whatever you leave behind can be eaten.

Read through this article to know more about this problem and its solutions and prevention!

Say No to Your Worries – Overcoming Counter Surfing

If your dog does counter surfing and that has kept you under stress lately, you need to stop worrying and start thinking about changing your lifestyle a bit. As mentioned before, if your dog jumps on the counter, that means two things. Firstly, it's hungry and needs food and secondly, it thinks it will get food from there.

You need to understand that a dog is different from a child. If a child does something that they are not supposed to, it is because they knew they shouldn't but still decided to go for it. On the other hand, a dog doesn't think like that. If it is hungry and smells food, it goes for it. You need to make sure you do not leave leftovers or keep food on the table while your dog is going through this issue.

Make sure your dog is well fed at all times. If its stomach is full, your dog will definitely not jump onto the kitchen counter. Also, make sure you specify a place where you feed your dog and keep it away from the kitchen. This way, you can play with your dog's psychology and teach it that it will get food from that particular place and not from the counter.

You need to train your dog step by step. It will be a gradual process and once your dog gets used to its food spot, you can start training it such that it eventually accepts that the food on the counter is not for it. Remember, it is a gradual process and you cannot expect your dog to understand things in the blink of an eye.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

"Prevention is better than cure" is indeed a true saying. Instead of being stressed and forcing your dog to adjust to an entirely different environment and habit, if you make sure that the problem never arises, it would definitely be the ideal situation. To prevent this situation from arising, you need to learn to never feed the dog from the table or kitchen counter. Yes, your beloved pet might look cute and innocent when it is looking at you from the floor as you enjoy your food. It is tempting to tear off a piece of chicken and give it to your dog, but you should not do so. Once you let the dog know that the food on the table is for it as well, changing this habit will be very difficult.

You need to train your dog to follow your order when you ask it to leave something. Your dog needs to understand that when it hears these words, it is immediately supposed to stop and not repeat the action again. This training needs to be done very early on. It is a major requirement for a dog owner who wants their pet to behave and be disciplined.

Another great thing one can do to prevent counter surfing is to specify a place for the dog in the kitchen. If you spend your time in the kitchen, it is unwise to think that your dog will not want to come there with you. Instead of banning its entry completely in the kitchen, you can limit it to a certain spot. This way, the dog will know from very early on that the kitchen counter or table is out of bounds for it.

To Put Things in a Nutshell

To conclude, it is important to understand that counter surfing is not similar to stealing food. A dog steals food mostly when it needs your attention, but a dog jumps on counters and tables when it is hungry and thinks it will get food from there. It is important to train your dog and change your own habits to overcome this problem once it arises. Leaving food around, keeping dirty dishes for long periods, and keeping leftovers on the table and kitchen counters are all actions that will tempt your dog and make it want to do counter surfing. Feeding your dog well and specifying locations from where it can get food is a great technique to overcome this problem. Preventing it is obviously ideal, and it can be done by not feeding your dog from the counter and training it to follow your orders strictly.

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