Pet Tips

Dog Jumps on Counter – Pet tip 204

There’s a really cute anonymous quote that says “never trust a dog to watch your food”. This advice should be well heeded because even though we trust dogs to protect us and warn us when trouble is near, most untrained dogs are ruled by their stomachs. If they see tasty food lying around, you can be pretty sure they will eat it. If you leave a bit of food on the counter and go answer the door, there’s a pretty good chance it will have ‘disappeared’ by the time you return and your dog will be licking its lips. The food left on the counter doesn’t even have to be ‘important’ food either. It could be a piece of meat or a bowl of salad dressing. Many dogs are notorious for stealing food off the counter and this behaviour needs to be discouraged for many reasons. Firstly, since many dogs will eat most anything, if you are preparing food such as meat, there could be bones that dogs should not eat. If you are preparing other foods, there are many of them that are simply not healthy for dogs. Secondly, dogs can have bacteria on their paws and you don’t want that bacteria on your counter near your food. Finally jumping on a counter and stealing food is simply bad etiquette. So how do we stop dogs from stealing food off the counter?

Like most training techniques there are several ways to tackle the problem and some of them are very logical. First off your dog should already know some basic commands like sit and stay. It makes sense therefore, NOT to let your dog in the kitchen during food preparation if it is a jumping stealer. Give the stay command so that it stays outside the kitchen. If your dog doesn’t know the stay command yet (it should) and the kitchen has a door, keep it closed. If you have no kitchen door then keep your dog in a room away from the kitchen. In general, never feed your dog from the counter as your dog will associate food with the magical food providing counter. Once you are finished preparing your dog’s food (wet or dry) bring it to another spot in the kitchen and then lower it down to give to your dog. Same goes for treats. Don’t take out a bag of treats and lay them on the counter and then offer it to your dog. Take the treats to another area.

If the household is particularly busy and stealing is a problem behaviour you may want to try booby trapping the counter. There are some products that make this fairly easy and are not too expensive. One of the better ones is called Ssscat which is basically a can of compressed air with a motion detector that shoots the spray and scares the dog away before it gets to the food. A similar technique that’s free might be shaker cans filled with pennies that you surround the counter with. When the dog jumps on the counter to get the food, the cans come crashing down and scare your dog. Another product that works is an electric mat that basically delivers a very mild shock when your dog’s paws touch it. These and other products to keep dogs off the counter are available at most pet stores.

In order to make our lives with our dogs easier it’s always recommended that dogs take a basic obedience course. These courses teach your dog that you the human, are the leader of the house and that it must listen to the leader and look to the leader for guidance. This goes a long way in reducing or eliminating common behaviour problems in dogs.

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