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In the dog training world we call it “Counter Surfing.” We’ve all seen the dog that knows it’s height and likes to use it to their advantage to grab food off the countertops. I’d be a liar if I said I haven’t had several of these myself. It’s easily one of the more common reasons I get called. Heck, I’m actually working with a Goldendoodle at the moment with this issue. This one is actually really tricky to fix because the dog learns very quickly to only jump up there when you’re out of the room. They learn by trial and error to be perfect little angels when you’re right there but the moment you walk out of the room they’re goin surfin! So with out having a super power that allows you to see through walls how do you know when they’re jumping up there and furthermore how do you correct it?? The answer is simple and quick! Many of you are wondering what the step by step process was to properly set it up and solve it. Well here’s a first class, ABC, 1,2,3 break down of the process…

You’ll need a few tools to help in the process. First tool you’ll need is the one and only penny bottle (20 pennies in a plastic water bottle). Next you’ll need a baby cam/monitor. This will be the secret weapon in the process. You can find a cheap one online for $120 or even a used one on Craigslist for $50. Trust me it’s the best investment you can make when training your young, inexperienced dog because you can use it time and again to solve countless problems. And last but not least you’ll need some bait. I’d recommend something like turkey slices, roast beef, ham, etc. All the good stuff that’s gonna want to make them crave their need to go surfing. Now we’re all geared up and ready, let’s do this…

First thing’s first. You wanna place that camera in a key area where it’s aimed at the countertop. I’d highly recommend placing it where you get a birds eye view of the room and not a close, tight view of just the area you’ve baited. This will give you a view of the situation as a whole and allow you to act in a timely manner rather than not knowing where they are until it’s too late. Best way to set it up is to view the monitor right there while you’re placing the camera. From there you’re going to place some of that bait on the countertop. Don’t place it right on the edge but a little more in the middle far enough back to where they’ll have a little struggle grabbing it. You want them to actually get their paws up there when correcting. Now the trap is set let’s grab that viewing monitor as well as the penny bottle and leave the room. You wanna make sure you’re close enough to the room where you can quickly come back in but not too close where the dog knows you’re right outside the door. Once you find the right spot you’re just gonna watch the monitor and wait. If they’re a really bad counter surfer they’re most likely be up there in the first minute of two. Some may take longer. Whatever the case you’re gonna wait them out and time it just right. The moment you see them place their paws up there, quickly open the door, shake the penny bottle and give them a “No” command. Once they’re down simply walk out of the room and go back to your same position. When they do it again simply repeat the process. I find that most dogs quit after the first couple times, but that doesn’t mean the issue is solved. It means you’ve won the game…for now. Ya see, dogs learn by trial and error what they can and can’t get away with. Counter surfing is an easy gamble for them because they can always get away with it when you’re not in the room. Once they get away with it enough the game odds become in their favor so they continue to do it. But if you do this 3 times a day for a week they’ll think twice before doing it at the end of that week. Each session will usually only be 5-10 minutes long at most. The key here is to simply startle them while correcting the problem through a conditioning process. You’re correcting a bad habit by startling them. In turn they’re being conditioned to not jump on the counters all the while making them wonder how the heck you knew they were up there.

As always the details are what’s important in the technique. First of all it’s a no brainer when I say don’t leave the countertops looking like a buffet when you’ve got a dog living in the house. That’s dog basics 101 right there. However, we all walk out of the room with food on countertops or accidentally leave something up there now and then. Just try and be conscious of it if possible. Also be sure to have some attractive chews, toys, etc in and around the kitchen to divert their need to surf away from the counters and to an area that’s more acceptable. Prevention is always the best cure after all. Furthermore, be sure to keep completely still and quiet when you’re in the next room waiting for them. You don’t want to give your position away or they’ll be savvy to your trick and the whole process won’t work. I like to actually grab my keys and pretend I left out the front door so they’ll guaranteed go surfing. Also it’s important to note that if your dog happens to actually grab the food while you’re doing this don’t get too angry with them. Remember YOU’RE the one who set the game up and you’re now losing that game to a dog. The key is to set it far enough back where they’ll be up there for a few seconds, struggling to get their mouth around the the prize. That 5 seconds is vital because it’s where you’ll come in and do your correction. As I mentioned earlier it becomes a game for a dog. They’ve won the game for so long now that it makes them want to do it time and again because they’re a pro by now. Once you start beating them at their own game they’ll just give up and forfeit. And as always BE CONSISTENT! This is the key to all dog training. Doing this once won’t solve the problem. It’ll just plant the seed. Take 10 minutes, 3 times a day to set this up, correctly execute and eliminate the problem forever. That’s a small investment of time to solve such a big problem. If you put the time in I promise you, you’ll see results in less than a week. Try it out and let me know how it goes. Ruff.

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