Training Your Dog to Stay off the Counters

Counter cruising a normal sign of healthy bonding and development. A dog who scopes out the counter is copying their human parents, like a child who wants to help carve the chicken: monkey see, monkey do. Here are some quick tips to teach your dog not to jump on counters.

* Keep your counters cleared off when you can’t supervise your dog or puppy. If she can get to objects easily when you’re out of sight she’ll learn to wait until you’re not in the room.

* Yelling at your dog after she’s nabbed an object will be perceived as prize envy: whatever she’s got has value as you’re willing to invest your time to get it back. She’ll learn to grab and gobble it or wait until your back is turned or you’re out of sight to cruise.

* Leave your dog on a light drag leash when supervised around counters. Correct her the moment she shows interest in what’s on the counter. It’s best to catch her before she’s had a chance to jump up. Make a sharp startle sound like “Shhht” or “Ep, ep, ep” and tug on the leash.

* Don’t look at your dog or puppy: you’ll frighten her. Remember that what she’s doing is completely normal- a healthy sign that she wants to be like you. Yell at the countertop “Bad Counter” and slap it (all eyes on the counter): it is equivalent to telling a young child the stove is hot.

* Remember that prevention is worth 10 pounds of cure. Give your dog something to do while you’re cooking or preparing food, such a bone or toy to play with, and praise him for watching you rather than milling about.

For more tips on this and other problem solving and dog training techniques see Sarah’s book “Teach Yourself Visually Dog Training.”