You’re making your favorite sandwich. You open the fridge to get one of those great pickles you just bought. You turn back to an empty plate. You’ve been cruised – counter top cruised by a thrill seeking canine. Whatever you do when you discover you’ve been robbed pales in comparison to the delicious treat he just pilfered. If you want to win at this game, you’ll have to plan ahead.
Dogs steal because they can, and because they haven’t had any better offers lately. Every once and a while dogs who have never stolen start to steal. That calls for a quick trip to the veterinarian because something may be amiss. But, a dog who has always been counter interested and steals isn’t usually a medical problem.
The first step in conquering any problem is acceptance. My name is Sarah and my dog, Bosco, is a counter cruiser. Once you have taken this important step you will stop thinking it won’t happen this time. Yes it will. When leaving food on the counter or a table … and until you’ve taught your dog otherwise … he will steal the food or attempt to.
The simple solution? Prevention. Teach your dog to stay out of the kitchen entirely or put up a sturdy, easy to open and close gate. Abstinence really is 100% effective but, as with other abstinence issues, not always so realistic.
Reward your dog with food for sitting across the room. Bring in your dog’s bed and treat your dog for sitting on it. Any time you’re at the counter and your dog appears, walk him over, have him sit on the doggie bed, and give him a treat. Repeat. After a few days of this, start body blocking him to the bed – pointing and getting in front of him – shuffling him off to Buffalo. When he gets to his bed – praise and reward. Hopefully soon he’ll just hang out there. Be sure to toss him treats throughout your time in the kitchen so he has good reason to stay put!
If you catch him red-pawed, front feet on the counter top, march him sternly to his crate. Not in a rage but not dawdling either. It’s either all four on the floor or put your naughty dog in a separate room! After a few minutes, let him out without comment. Repeat as needed. This is just an A=B exercise.
It’s up to you to keep everything off the counters from the beginning. Make sure he doesn’t get rewarded for this unruly behavior. Removing the reward or treats is always a good first step to stopping any bad habit.