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How to train your dog to stop counter surfing

Counter surfing | Operation Kindness

How to train your dog to stop counter surfing

If you have ever left out a fresh sandwich on the counter only to turn around and find your dog has snagged the snack for themself, you may be living with a counter-surfing canine. Dogs may counter surf – or jump up on counters to find things to snack on – because it is natural for dogs to explore the world around them looking for food. However, we definitely want to correct our pup’s behavior to keep their paws off!


The first step to success is ensuring your counters are clear from anything your dog might want to snag. This includes food, crumbs, dishes, used paper towels and more. Living with a counter-surfing dog will teach you to keep a very clean kitchen!

Do not feed your dog food from the counter. If you would like to give your dog something delicious that you have cooked up for them or if you prepare their meals on the kitchen counter, take the food to another room and give the dog to it outside of the kitchen. Make sure that all members of the family and house guests follow the same rules to keep things consistent for your dog.

When cooking or preparing food for your pets or yourself, keeping your dog outside, in a kennel, or another room with a closed door can also help.

Train your dog to do something more appropriate

When your dog is in the kitchen, they can be very tempted to try to grab a snack when you turn your back. Teach them to stay out of the kitchen, so they aren’t as tempted.

When your dog enters the kitchen, coax them into another room with the command “out” once they have left. Rewarding your dog with a scratch on the chin or a treat the first few times can also be helpful. You may need to remove your pet, paired with the “out” command, about 100 times for consistency, as it can sometimes take a pet around that many times for it to stick.

You can also teach your dog “off” to take their feet off the counter. When your pet puts their feet on the counter, ask and gesture to them to get down — no need to get forceful or pushy with them. As soon as their feet hit the ground, say “off.” Repeat this every time their feet touch the counter for consistency!

For behavior and training advice, please contact our behavior team by email or visit the resources section of our website.

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