Getting my dog to stay off the counter!

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by mikey67tang, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. mikey67tang New Member

    Madison is one of the smartest 6 month old Black Lab (got just about 15 tricks in the bag so far) BUT when I'm gone she continues to jump on the counter (2 front feet only) and grabs anything and everything within reach. I've stopped putting anything on there but if there is something (she got a wood ruler and plastic cups) she gets them.

    When I'm home she's busy playing and doing tricks so she doesn't even think about getting on the counter. It's when I'm GONE that she does it and I have no way of scolding her because I haven't seen her do it...

    WHAT CAN I DO? - She only does it when I'm not home.

    The other thing I should mention is she has a Kong (which she's mastered and guarantees me a nice 30 minutes of occupation) AND a buster cube and a nice big bone she gets when I leave. I've also since started to play frisbee for about 10 mins before I leave for work and 10 mins during the end of my lunch break.

    Can anyone help with tips? :-)

  2. snooks Experienced Member

    Sorry but the only cure is to keep the counter clear. The good news is prevention is 100% effective. I've never had a dog counter surf but have plenty of friends that do. The biggest difference is I keep food off the counters and if it is there it's pushed back and I am nearby watching. When I leave or go outside food or interesting objects go up or the kitchen or room is gated off.

    In all of the dog classes I go to I hear people arguing with the trainers. Aww do I really have to keep the counters clear?? The answer has always without exception been yes.

    The problem is that whatever is up there is self-rewarding right now. The behavior no matter what the consequence is so much more rewarding than anything else that it will not stop unless the reward is removed. Dog memory is about 1 minute max for adults. The other problem is later when you get home there is no way to correct the offence after the fact because the dog can NOT reason and understand that he got on the counter, that you are correcting HIM being on the counter, that the objects now on the floor were on the counter, or that you are unhappy about the stuff on the counter being touched.

    One suggestion that might make things slow down is more more more exercise. Labs need 2+ hours of vigorous exercise per day-not just running around the yard but organized with mental stimulation and interaction. Have you thought about a dog walker during the middle of the day? Freeze the kong so it will last longer, and they make kong dispensers believe it or not but they are pricey. Hide food around the house in inventive places and teach him how to search for it. Don't put it in places that will encourage undesired behavior like on the counter. :dogtongue2: Also consider doggie day care 1-2 times a week. Nothing tires a dog out like playing with other dogs.

    Have you videoed this counter violation happening? What's going on when he does it? Boredom? Frustration? Anxiety? Maybe finding the why might help with the solution too. If you must leave stuff on the counters then gate the kitchen if you are sure he won't hop the gate maybe. Much Luck :dogbiggrin:
  3. mikey67tang New Member

    I've not yet video taped her doing it but thats a GREAT idea. I'm sure anxiety has a lot to do with the problem. Her and I play, do tricks, open & close cubbards :dogtongue2: work out in the garage on the weekends then BAM, Mon - Fri, twice (4 hrs before lunch, 3hrs after) I'm gone and she's home alone. I'll video tape this behavior as well as constantly keep clearing the counter. :dogbiggrin: Thanks so much!
  4. fickla Experienced Member

    I agree that keeping the counters free of stuff 100% of the time is really your best option. You also try kenneling her when you are gone so she doesn't have time to keep practicing it.

    While you are home, I would teach her leave it and then practice doing leave it on the counters. You can also try booby trapping. Some methods of booby trapping are stringing a bunch of pop cans filled with pennies together and rigging it so it falls when she jumps up. Or getting a device that makes a loud sound when she jumps on the counter, or something that puffs air out to startle her. However, I'm not the biggest fan of booby trapping and would personally just manage it (kennel, or nothing on counters) and teach leave it (including doing out of sight leave its).
  5. snooks Experienced Member

    Try to figure out a way to work WITH her instincts to help solve the problem. My dogs are Goldens and like your Lab are working/hunting/scent dogs. Hiding the food around the house and using her hunting abilities really helped. I have to be sneaky or she'll find them all before I leave. :msnwink:

    The video camera is the perfect spy dog behavior tool. Most anxiety destruction happens within the first 30 minutes. So after she finishes her kong that's when you might see the true nature of what's going on.

    I agree with Flickla and am not a big fan of booby traps esp if this is an anxious dog. Traps could make things worse and the dog more fearful. Also be aware that some anxious dogs feel worse crated.
  6. snooks Experienced Member

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