Do you often find your pet near the kitchen counter making a mess while trying to steal food? No matter how many times you tell them not to do it, the results are always the same. This might be because your beloved furry friend is actually a “counter-surfer.”
What is the cause of counter-surfing?
Generally, when you teach something to your pet, you give them delicious treats as a reward and encourage their behavior. However, when they jump onto the counter and get delicious food in return, they will think of it as a reward. Thus, they will repeat this behavior again and more often to get food. This behavior leads to the habit of counter-surfing. Or, in simple terms, stealing food.
Besides this, there could be other reasons as well. For instance, hunger, boredom, lack of obedience training, personality, separation anxiety, or stress. Nonetheless, whatever the cause may be, it is essential that you take immediate action to stop this behavior.
How to stop counter-surfing?
Breaking a habit that offers “rewards” to pets is a challenging task. However, it is not impossible. With the following strategies and training, you can help stop this habit. So, let’s begin.
- Keep The Counter Clean
First things first, you should remove all the food from the counter, especially when you are going out. When your pets do not get rewards by jumping to the counter, they will get disappointed. If this continues to happen regularly, they will eventually stop doing this. Similarly, you should keep the dining table and any other place where you usually prepare or eat food fully clean.
- Put Your Pet Behind Crate
Obviously, you can’t always keep the counter clean. Maybe you are cooking dinner or hosting a party. In such a situation, you should put your pet behind the crate or in another room to keep them away from food. It will help prevent them from stealing food or bothering you while you are preparing dinner.
- Teach “Leave It”
Another thing that you should do is teach them the “leave it” trick. So, every time you find them eating something that they shouldn’t, get the stuff out of their mouth and repeat the command “Leave it.” Once they understand what to do, you can give them delicious treats such as bully sticks or jerky as a reward. Teaching this trick will help promote good behavior, while your dog will also get something to eat. So, it’s a win-win.
- Teach Your Pet About Boundaries
Another thing that you can teach your beloved furry friend is to stay out of the cooking area. For that, you need to create some restricted areas using colored tape. Every time your pet tries to enter the restricted area, repeat the command “Go Out.” It might be a bit challenging in the beginning. Therefore, you can offer delicious treats so that they start obeying you.
Practice this trick twice a day for the next 5-10 days, particularly during the time you cook a meal. It will help them understand their boundaries and will make it easier to control their stealing instincts.
Note: Keep in mind that the treats shouldn’t be more than 10% of your pet’s daily calories.
- Try Using Chew Deterrent
In case you are worried about the behavior of your pet in your absence, you should try using a chew deterrent. Spray it over the kitchen counter or any other place where your doggie tries to steal food. The spray will leave an awful taste on the surface. Thus, when your pet licks the surface, they will back off automatically due to bad taste.
Nonetheless, it would be better to consult your vet before using a deterrent.
- Talk With Your Vet
Lastly, if your furry friend is doing counter-surf even after training, it might be related to an underlying health condition. Maybe they are not getting enough food. Or maybe they are stressed about something. As they can’t talk, you need to pay attention to the signs. Therefore, you should consult your vet about the behavior change. They can help you understand the cause and come up with a solution to help your beloved doggie.
In fact, you might also discover that this behavior is due to lack of affection. So, you should start showing your love and affection to your beloved pet. Give them delicious treats, spend some quality time with them, play games, etc., When you spend quality time with your pet, it will promote healthy and good behavior.
To sum it all up!
Getting delicious food is generally an encouragement for pets to repeat a certain behavior. They don’t understand whether the behavior is good or bad from a human perspective. Therefore, you must train your fur buddy properly and teach them good habits. Also, don’t yell or punish them for bad behavior, instead talk to the vet and train them with patience.