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Hi there, I'm new here and I don't really know how the site works, but I'm in dire need of help and we don't have a dog trainer in my city.

My dog can reach the counters easily, he's a rottweiler/german shepherd mix. Brilliant dog and usually very good. He's getting on the countertops only when we go to bed, but it's not for food because we never leave food out. Anything that he could reach and knock over, he did.

I imagine it's because he's bored, so obviously I need to get him some more toys, but how do I train him not to go on the counters (and the garbage)? Should we get a kennel and start kennel-training him so that we can leave him in it at night? My only worry is that we won't be able to break him of the kennel at night.

Any help or suggestions you have would be appreciated. He really is a good boy, but I don't know how to keep him happy and calm at night, like he is during the day. D': Thanks a lot.
 

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I would definitely start crate training your dog, especially when he can't be supervised. He sounds like he's getting bored and looking for entertainment. In the meantime, shut your trashcans in a closet/pantry to avoid the temptation for him to get into them. Close doors of rooms that you don't want him going into. I have 2 small dogs, and I have baby gates in the doorways of two bedrooms we don't use right now regularly (your dog could hop over them, so you'd have to shut the doors - lol!).

At night, can you close him in your bedroom with you rather than letting him roam loose? This is how I've crate trained all the dog's I've had. I crate them in my bedroom at night with me. That way, they can still see me and don't panic so much.

It also sounds like he might need more exercise. Do you take him on walks? Play fetch? A dog this size needs to expend lots of energy! A tired dog is a good dog.
 

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Honestly garbage and countertops are something I personally put into the "management" category... that is, just keep them out of sight and out of mind. I just don't have the time or patience to supervise closely enough to train this particular thing, and I don't think it can be trained to the level of reliability I would want, anyway. So it's just not the hill I want to die on.

You can search around for threads on teaching "leave it" for some tips, though.
 

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Clear the countertops of anything not 100% required to be there (like say, a microwave), push anything that needs to be on the counter to the very back of it (out of reach) and put the garbage can inside a cabinet, in a pantry or behind a door (mine's behind a baby gate to the laundry room for example).

Provide more exercise. Age-appropriate -- you don't want to be on-leash running with a puppy but you can do long walks, off leash play in the yard etc. Most dogs will sleep most of the night if they've had enough exercise during the day. Heck, I just adopted out a high energy, destructive during the day (when not crated) foster dog that would sleep soundly all night and was completely trustworthy at night even though she chewed through a door frame in 10 minutes during the day :) I simply tired her little butt out every afternoon and evening with long hikes and jogs.

Kennel/crate training is useful and a good thing for a dog to be comfortable with (in case of vet visits, boarding, injury requiring rest etc) but garbage and counter surfing are more management things than training IMO. As a bonus, your kitchen will always look cleaner for surprise guests!
 

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I agree it's more of a management thing than a training thing. Or at least easier to do it that way!

If there's nothing on the counters, and the garbage is out of reach, then there's no reward for him. He'll eventually give up on counter surfing.

You can give him lots to do during the day and work on training to get him tired out, that works quite well too. There's some nice gates on the market that also are an option.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Georgiapeach:
Thanks, I think crate-training him would be wise, too. I can't close him in my room because he whines all night long to get out (and get to the counters...) if I do. :( And if I let him roam the house at night and close my door, he can paw it open since it doesn't close all the way.

Yes, I take him on daily walks, and while our yard doesn't have a fence, it's very big and he has a 30-foot lead, and is never left outside alone. His recall isn't perfect, so I always leave him on it, and will until I've proofed recall. Though exercise may still be a problem.

sassafras:
By out of sight & out of mind, do you mean taking everything off counters? Because he'll do it even if there's no food on them... and I don't want to have to unhook all small appliances put them away somewhere (along with flower jars) which we don't have room for, rather than spend the time to train him now.

Shell:
Like I said, he does get daily exercise but maybe you're right, it's not enough.

Bordermom:
My dog could do a flying-leap over dog gates... ;) And I can try to take everything off the counter at night that he has a tendency to get to, and he could stop without the reward... but what if I leave it there and he sees it and goes to get it?


Thanks for your help, guys. As soon as I have the money I'll start crate-training him. I'll also start getting him more exercise, and be more careful about my countertops & the garbage. At least I understand that it's my fault for not managing it correctly from the beginning.

As backstory, anyway, we adopted him at 4 months, and we think the previous owners didn't treat him very well. Luckily, he's extremely gentle and very friendly! Thanks again. Any other tips are still welcome. :)
 

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So he's removing the appliances and things from the counters? What is it he's getting into?

Remove those things. If he's getting the coffee maker down etc. then I'd just make him sleep in the bedroom at night for now, but most dogs don't mess with that sort of thing. The point is if there's no food for him to get, then he's not likely going to bother, unless he's chewing the appliances which would be a case of 'you don't get to go free in the house'.

Another thing you can do is get some eucalyptus oil, it's not expensive and dogs usually don't like the smell of it. Put some cotton balls in a jar and sprinkle the oil on them, at bedtime remove the lid and put a few of them on the back of the counter. For most dogs it's an icky enough smell that they won't want to be up there smelling them, and it's strong enough to over ride any food smells (wash the backsplash and counters off at night so there's no crumbs anyway) and help deter them.

You may have to put everything away for a few weeks then start putting them back one at a time, it's a pain, but if he won't stay behind a baby gate (or two stacked on top of each other) then it's what might have to happen. There's also scat mats and such that you can get.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
No, he hasn't touched the appliances yet, but we have removed everything from the countertops before that was edible and cleaned them, and he knocked down our flowerpot, a pair of glasses, and a bunch of notebooks, and chewed them. I'm worried it might excel to other things if I don't work the problem out. I might try the eucalyptus oil, and just make sure I properly put everything away until I can get some.
 

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My dog would try to stand to reach the counter, we used a several pennies in a tin can (penny bomb). When the dog stood up we throw it near her. She hated the sound, after the 3rd time she never did it again. You could do the same thing at night by tying the penny bomb to whatever she usually tries to take. You could also leave one or two on top of the garbage can. Here's a good article that goes into why dogs counter surf.
 

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I agree with the crate, or maybe try turning carpet runners upside down in front of the counters.

I do have one dog that will not leave the trash alone. She broke every crate I had. I ended up putting toddler locks on the trash cans and some of my kitchen cabinets. Still have them on and she's 12 years old.
 
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