Have you had a trying holiday season? With the onset of the holidays my canine companions have re-discovered that the counter has good stuff on it. They have taken up Counter Surfing any time that we aren’t looking in the right direction. Even if we are just in the other room they will check to see if there are any goodies up there that might be neglected.
There are several ways to correct this behavior. The first and best one of course is to keep it from starting. One of our mantras in dog class is that dogs do what works. So, at one point getting up on the counter provided positive reinforcement. Now you need to provide a consequence.
The first thing to do is make sure that the positive reinforcement doesn’t happen again. This means that everyone in the household must make sure that the counter is ALWAYS clear of good stuff. Then you must make climbing on the counter unpleasant.
There are 3 ways to do this that escalate the consequences without hurting the dog. First: Double some Duct Tape into a loop, place this loop on the edge of the counter so that when the dog gets up on the counter his pads stick to the tape. This is uncomfortable but not damaging and for dogs that are not highly motivated this should be sufficient to keep them off. Combined with no good stuff on the counter, this should extinguish counter surfing.
Still not enough? Time to up the ante. For this consequence you are going to set the dog up and provide an instant catastrophe as a consequence. Get a large mixing bowl, 8-12 soda cans some pennies or nails, Duct tape, a piece of string and a bagel. Fill the soda cans part way full with pennies or nails and seal the top with a piece of Duct Tape. ( Dogs hate the sound of pennies in a soda can) Put the cans into the mixing bowl and place it on the counter, tie the string to the mixing bowl and also to the bagel. If you want to make it easier to move, put a couple of pencils under the bowl so that it moves easily. Now, leave the kitchen and wait. The bagel will prove to be irresistible to your pet quite soon. The bowl will dump the cans on the floor and there is every chance that your dog will high tail it to the other end of the house. One or two of these experiences will be quite traumatic for your dog and will probably solve your problem. Repeat it at irregular intervals with assorted treats and you will find that the counter is not attractive any more.
If you are a bit more lazy but still want a good deterrent, there is a product called SSScat.
This is a can of compressed air with a motion detector sitting on top of the can. When the motion detector is activated, it sprays a dose of compressed air with a loud hissing sound. This is quite effective but not as traumatic as the can technique. You will scare the wits out of yourself several times though, it is quite startling in the middle of the night. If you are trying to cure your late-night refrigerator raids this is also effective.