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My dog (1 year old hound/beagle cross) is rarely left alone out of his crate, but occassionally it does happen. An example today, I ran upstairs to grab socks and the phone rang. Less than 5 minutes later, CRASH, and I run downstairs to find my dog has pulled things off the kitchen counter again. I realize it is tempting for him but how does one train that behaviour our? He'll never be able to just be a dog without being crated, if he continues this.
Luckily he hasn't cut himself yet, as he invariably breaks whatever piece of dishware he has pulled down.
The answer is to not leave any food on the counter, I suppose but with 2 teenagers, there is going to be food/dishes left up there, therefore he has to learn to leave them alone.
Help.
Cinder
 

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It will be easier to train your kids to put the dishes in the dishwasher than to break a counter surfer! The only definite way to prevent this is to not have anything tempting for him to get to. You can also baby gate the kitchen door, as long as the dog won't jump/climb it, if your kitchen has a doorway.

I once fostered a great dane, and we foolishly left a loaf of bread out to thaw on top of the refrigerator, thinking she couldn't reach it there - WRONG! When we returned, the entire loaf, including the wrapper, was gone! There wasn't a shred of evidence left - not a crumb. Fortunately, Zela didn't get sick or have a blockage, b/c of this - jeesh!
 

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Yeah, your dog will definitely be tempted to go for it. You have to be stern when you tell him to get off the counter and make sure he knows he shouldn't do it, but obviously that is not going to take straight away. Georgiapeach is right, you might want to get a baby gate for the kitchen door to make sure that your dog cannot get into it. Have you attended an obedience class? They are not for everyone and I know not everyone has time for them but they might be a good resource if you want to release your dog into the wild and out of his crate.
 

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Stategically placed mouse traps can cure counter surfing
OUCH. Don't do that, it might stop a dog from jumping up on the counter but it also might break a paw, or a nose... or tongue. Kikopup has a video on youtube about countersurfing which helped us a bit. The other issue for us is that even if there is no food Pete will jump up and walk around the table just in case. Our old trainer suggested leaving food on the counter with a hefty dose of tabasco sauce. Doesn't work for our current dogs (they just gobbled it up anyways) but Buster never surfed again after that.

I'm not sure what the next step is for us, it might be a vibrational collar. I'd rather not but I live with several people and can't control all their behaviour... it would be nice if we found another alternative.
 

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One of my previous rescues was like this. He was a food-aholic!!! I taught him to keep off of the counters by not having any food available ... but he would still look. He was always looking at the microwave ... as I heated their food in it sometimes.

So what I did was keep treats in my pocket. When he would begin to jump up ... I would quickly say "Benny Come!" ... "Benny Sit!" I always tried to re-direct him before his front feet hit the counter top. Timing was crucial because if not caught before the fact ... he would think he was being rewarded for being up there.

After about a week he realized the best way to get food was to come to me and "sit".

 

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This is a tough one, since the behavior is obviously self-rewarding and there is no clear reward you can give that will trump the food.

There are various mechanical devices which you can put out on the counter that work as aversives. They may work on a less food-motivated dog. But a highly food-motivated dog will endure considerable discomfort to get food (that's what highly food motivated means) and I don't think you want to put your dog through that.

About the best you can do with a highly food-motivated dog is to teach an "off" instruction that will get him to put all four feet on the ground when you are around. When you aren't around, you just have to remove all food or make it otherwise inaccessible.

Think of the positive side - your highly food motivated dog will be much easier to teach a lot of tricks and exercises.
 
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