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Just some quick questions about counter surfing. It's easy enough to just say "down" or "leave it" when we're around, but of course as Aed gets older we're not always going to be around. So, did your dog do it? Did he/she grow out of it, or did you do something specific to stop/prevent it? If not, at what age did your dog start to become reliable about not stealing things (I'm talking bread or coffee or something, not full steak meals) off the counters?

Thanks guys.

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Seeing as how I can not leave any candy out in sight without is disappearing, I won't hold my dogs to a higher level of behavior than I expect out of the humans in the house (even though the humans know better) so we keep the counter tops void of anything of interest when we are not there to supervise.

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With my dogs, even the very determined counter surfing lurcher, it was a matter of time and persistence. She eventually stopped doing it, though I can't recall at what age.

 

You might try setting him up sometimes. You can leave something safe on the counter and then lurk just out of sight and wait for him to make a move. Best if you're able to see well enough so that you can catch him before he's even gotten feet on the counter yet. The earlier you can interrupt it -- while he's still thinking about it -- the more effective it will be.

 

I'm sure he'll get it. It can be hard because the rewards are so great when they succeed. ;)

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My pup can steal the icing off a cake that is inches from my hand before I see him coming. I expect him to grow out of that but in the meantime don't have food around unless I am in the process of eating it.

 

For the other dogs "Leave" works but I don't leave temptation under their noses for too long if I go out of the room.

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OK, this may sound odd, but its something I read about from Shirley Chong. I spend a lot of time teaching my dogs to ask permission for things. They offer a behavior telling me they want it, and pretty regularly I will give it to them so they have a "ask for it" behavior. Once they know how to ask, they almost never steal anything.

 

I sometimes have to work through a dog who is persistent about bugging me when I say no, but overall it seems to work.

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OK, this may sound odd, but its something I read about from Shirley Chong. I spend a lot of time teaching my dogs to ask permission for things. They offer a behavior telling me they want it, and pretty regularly I will give it to them so they have a "ask for it" behavior. Once they know how to ask, they almost never steal anything.

 

I sometimes have to work through a dog who is persistent about bugging me when I say no, but overall it seems to work.

 

I don't like the sound of that. I don't want my dogs pulling my strings to get what they want.

 

I make the decisions in this house as to what they get and when, the pup just doesn't realise it yet.

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I teach my dog the same thing, only I call it the "default behavior", I still make the decisions, but they have to ask politely. Want the bowl of food I'm holding? You have to sit first. Want to go outside? Same thing. If my puppy wants attention he will now come and sit down in front of me. Sometimes I give him attention, sometimes I don't.

 

Tess has never been one to try and steal things, so I've fallen into the habit of leaving things out. Usually though I just don't leave out anything they can get. The dogs can't get in my kitchen and I try to leave the countertops clean as well.

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I teach my dog the same thing, only I call it the "default behavior", I still make the decisions, but they have to ask politely. Want the bowl of food I'm holding? You have to sit first. Want to go outside? Same thing. If my puppy wants attention he will now come and sit down in front of me. Sometimes I give him attention, sometimes I don't.

 

Tess has never been one to try and steal things, so I've fallen into the habit of leaving things out. Usually though I just don't leave out anything they can get. The dogs can't get in my kitchen and I try to leave the countertops clean as well.

 

What you are describing is more a version of NILIF but the impression I get from Rushdoggie is that what she is doing is more dog led.

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I don't like the sound of that. I don't want my dogs pulling my strings to get what they want.

 

I make the decisions in this house as to what they get and when, the pup just doesn't realise it yet.

 

I have taught the same thing. I also think of it as the "default behaviour". If Aed wants something his way of asking politely is to sit, then I can decide whether it's something I'm willing to give him or not. It's just the same as teaching a child to say "May I please have a cookie?" instead of just taking one. There's no reason for me not to give the child what they're asking for if they're being polite about it. Same with a dog. If ever he's asking for something I don't want to give him, I just don't, and he persists for a minute or so then gives up and goes off to do something else.

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Many of my dogs have chosen a particular behavior that translates as "please" for them. It's usually something they were heavily rewarded for during the training process for that behavior. For one it was sitting pretty, a behavior she'd had a hard time learning to balance to perform. For 2 it was a sneeze (both learned it at the same time and both decided to make it a request behavior -- I think there was a little bit of monkey-see-monkey-do in that process). For Bodhi it's doing yoga.

 

Even though the dogs initiated the requests, once the behavior was solid it didn't mean they automatically got what they wanted from me. Just like you don't always give in to kids' requests for candy and toys when parents take them along to the store, you can tell your dog no (or just not honor the request) when she or he asks.

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I side stepped the issue. Our kitchen is a separate room with different flooring and I just taught the dogs that they weren't allowed in the kitchen. Actually, they also aren't allowed to hang out where the people are eating, but they kind of taught themselves that and we just went along with it, especially after Micah turned out to have food allergies. In our house, if we are eating, the dogs have to go lie down, and go means leave.

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Jinx will only take food directly given to him. This morning I got up at 5 made breakfast went back to bed to eat and was full with some food still on the plate. Left the plate with leftover food on the nightstand and fell asleep. Nightstand is at his mouth level, he could have easily stolen it, I woke up five hours later to see all the food still there, he left it completely alone.

 

I did a lot of work with him eating only food given directly to him.

 

 

A lot like this

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Dear Doggers,

 

Our young dog has started nibbling/pulling bark from the woodrack beside the stove. Although, on principle I dislike anonymous "bolt from the blue" corrections, I'll soon employ a simple trick that has ended firewood nibbling and midnight counter surfing in the past. I'll put a precariously balanced stack of tin cans atop the stack where a tug will bring the cans harmlessly but noisily around him. It works.

 

 

Donald McCaig

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I train an "up up" (meaning put paws up) and "off" cue - I don't do this with the counter, I do this with paws up on me. "Off" is a reinforced trained behavior, just like "up up", or "sit", or a recall. Once it is trained, i cue "off" any time the dog puts paws up on the counter. I reinforce heavily when possible. I also mark and reinforce heavily, when possible, when the dog is hanging around the counter areas with four on the floor.

 

With no reinforcement for paws up on the counter and a strong reinforcement history for four on the floor, the counter surfing extinguishes.

 

Worked with Dean, whose first action upon entering our home was to run into the kitchen and counter surf!! He was quite committed.

 

This is one of my favorite things to train.

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My dogs also know that they can ask politely for something, and sometimes they will get it, but it is understood by all that it is a polite request, not a demand, and they will get it or not as I see fit. This has worked very well for me, and it applies to "can we go play now?", "will you throw this for me?" and other things, as well as food. They never sit and beg while I am eating; that is not permitted. And I can leave the room with my entire dinner plate on the coffee table and all four dogs will leave it alone.

 

Now, if I left the house for any length of time.....say, more than ten minutes....or if I drove away, that would very likely be different entirely. I simply never leave anything tempting where a dog can reach it if I am going to be gone from the house. That would be just asking for trouble - setting them up to do something I don't want them to do.

 

Mr. McCaig's idea of a stack of cans is great. I had not heard of that one, and will remember it. If a dog puts his or her paws on the counter when I am nearby, I simply sweep the hind legs out from under the dog.

 

My method of dealing with the kitchen while I am in it is to teach "Out Of The Kitchen". All my dogs will scurry out of the kitchen when I say that, and sit nicely watching me from the edge of the room. Sometimes for that they get rewarded by getting a bite to eat, sometimes not. Of course, when I was teaching it to each dog, I rewarded every time, but I did not have to keep that up more than about a week.

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Just wanted to second Rushdoggie's method via Shirley Chong. Much like the "control unleashed" behaviors, allowing the dog access when politely requested may seem hugely counterintuitive, but.... I had a dog who could be trusted to not touch a steaming roast out of the oven, fresh bread from the baker's, Turkey day bird, etc., etc. and who would ensure that my other dogs would show the same restraint. She was my first-ever puppy and I am NOT an inantely gifted dog trainer. Got another dog right now, who knows that a polite request may very well (sometimes not) get him what he wants -- so he comes to me, offers a polite, tight obedience sit, waits for me to notice, and then we go see what's what. Sometimes he gets something and sometimes not. (FYI, he is one of nature's gentleman.) But he too makes sure no other dog in the household steals anything off the counter, including the 25 lb rescue borderjack whose manners are still a work in progress.

 

Making access to a desired resource contingent on learned and creditably performed behaviors is something all of us teach our dogs as trainers. Sometimes that hot (...ly desired) resource comes straight from the oven. Thanksgiving turkey is likely to have more than we can eat, so I don't mind sharing. And I like it when my dogs learn to ask politely for something they want.

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P.S. the reason why I like Shirley Chong's method better than Mr McCaig's is entirely due to my own inability to control my household. I am/was a single mom --- with dogs that continue to save my sanity. Family interruptions (MOM, Sis/bro is doing xxxx , come NOW) tended to occur right as I was sinking into a bubblebath, etc, etc or taking a family roast that I fully intended to provide three dinners that week right out of the oven. I would like to say I had enough self-discipline to put everything away and put cans on top at night, but truth is otherwise. Having my dogs be self-disciplined, polite and sharing dinner with them was the solution for me.

 

Your mileage may vary.

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We got spoiled with Fergie. We could leave a board of cheese, crackers, and fruit on the coffee table and go upstairs for a half hour for a family phone call. Fergie wouldn't touch a thing - and would keep Maggie da Cat from snacking, too. But we got Ferg when she was 10 weeks old.

 

Dixie has been another story. We got her at 6-7 months old - owned by a family, sent to the pound (honest!) when they moved, then in a foster home. She took food when she found it. Anywhere, anytime. She's now 3 - today is her birthday. She doesn't counter surf anymore. But the cat might - and will drop bits on the floor. So Dixie gets the blame if she's "dining" when we come in.

 

Mostly, it's just that she's learned that she will get three meals a day and treats in between. And that surfing gets her in trouble.

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Just wanted to second Rushdoggie's method via Shirley Chong. Much like the "control unleashed" behaviors, allowing the dog access when politely requested may seem hugely counterintuitive, but.... I had a dog who could be trusted to not touch a steaming roast out of the oven, fresh bread from the baker's, Turkey day bird, etc., etc. and who would ensure that my other dogs would show the same restraint. She was my first-ever puppy and I am NOT an inantely gifted dog trainer. Got another dog right now, who knows that a polite request may very well (sometimes not) get him what he wants -- so he comes to me, offers a polite, tight obedience sit, waits for me to notice, and then we go see what's what. Sometimes he gets something and sometimes not. (FYI, he is one of nature's gentleman.) But he too makes sure no other dog in the household steals anything off the counter, including the 25 lb rescue borderjack whose manners are still a work in progress.

 

Making access to a desired resource contingent on learned and creditably performed behaviors is something all of us teach our dogs as trainers. Sometimes that hot (...ly desired) resource comes straight from the oven. Thanksgiving turkey is likely to have more than we can eat, so I don't mind sharing. And I like it when my dogs learn to ask politely for something they want.

 

Yes, thanks.

 

I was probably unclear leading to some thinking it is dog-led. Its how others have described.

 

Its almost like they now have a road to ask for stuff so thats the default behavior instead of stealing it. Its very contingent on them also not having a string history of reinforcing themselves.

 

It may not be for everyone but I haven't had a dog who counter surfed in about 15 years. I can even leave foods on the coffee table and leave the room. Once, I accidentally left my breakfast plate with some toast on the coffee table and left for work, when I came home it was still there. Its like they no longer go looking for stuff.

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