What does counter surfing mean?

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Counter surfing is just one of the methods dogs use to steal food. It’s important to know that while thieving is annoying, frustrating and dangerous, it is also perfectly natural behavior. Dogs love to eat, and they’ll do anything to get something once they get a whiff of the smell. We have all heard stories of dogs eating entire cakes or whole turkeys or roast beefs.

The easiest thing, of course, is to keep food safely out of your dog’s reach, but you really need to understand why your dog does it in the first place in order to correct the behavior for the long-term.

Here are some general tips to help stop counter surfing and other stealing behavior.:

  • Keep food and other items out of reach: Clear all counters, bench tops and lock garbage bins.
  • Teach some basic obedience training, including the “leave it!” command. Obedience training will build respect and strengthen the bond you and your dog share, which might help stop the stealing in its tracks.
  • Supervise: When you are present you can provide your dog with instant feedback regarding his behavior, both positive and negative.
  • Feeding: Only feed your dog from his dinner bowl or as a reward during obedience training sessions. Never, ever feed table scraps.
  • Physical and mental stimulation: This includes extra walks, play, exercise and, of course, learning obedience commands.
  • Positive Reinforcement: If your dog is sitting calmly on his bed while you are preparing your dinner praise and reward him with a tasty treat. This is really an obedience training exercise, so it’s acceptable to give your dog a reward in this situation. When a dog is rewarded, that behavior is reinforced and is likely to continue in the future
  • Make sure your dishwasher is locked; otherwise, he will lick uneaten food off the plates and, before you know it, will counter surf or find other ways to steal food.

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