I Need Some Advice/Help
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Thread: I Need Some Advice/Help

  1. #1
    mombear is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultI Need Some Advice/Help

    This may sound like an old story and I'm a bit apprehensive about posting it here, fearing it may bring on a feeding frenzy on me but here goes. Parker is now almost a year and a half old. All in all he has turned into my best bud and I love him to death. However, we have had some problems lately, mostly due to the other people in the house having no common sense. Parker is an avid counter surfer. We try to keep things back as far as we can, but each time he seems to be able to reach farther back. He is also a clever devil ie cookies are set far back but aha, they are setting on a piece of paper that is not. Gets up slowly moves the paper...with the cookies forward and voila ze cookies fall on floor, snarf fest ensues. Even if there is absolutely nothing up here for him to get he has to get up and check it out. This includes my desk, my dresser, the bathroom sink etc. I always yell down three or four times and he does get down. But it seems I spend my entire weekend yelling, down, off, get down, at this poor dog. Can someone please give me a suggestion on how to end this for good. Thanks for any help. And please no beating or berating, just a problem needing help with solution.

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  3. #2
    Baloo317's Avatar
    Baloo317 is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: I Need Some Advice/Help

    I am normally not a fan of training that relies on aversives, but because counter-surfing is far too often a self-reinforcing behaviour, I think it's appropriate in this circumstance. If I had a really bad counter surfer I'd invest in a few strategically placed scat mats, this explains what they are and how they're used (they have strips for the counter):
    http://dogtrainingstore.com/Scat_Mats.htm

    I don't like using noise aversives because I've seen many dogs develop a fear of loud noises as a result of their use.

    Good luck Peg, and keep four on the floor Parker!! 

    Kate
    Baloo - 5 year old black lab
    Peanut - 7 year old minpin
    Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
    We're Superdogs!


  4. #3
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    DefaultRe: I Need Some Advice/Help

    Awww Peggy.

    Henery is a counter-surfer too. He perfected the jump-and-swipe-with-one's-paw maneuver which allowed him to get at anything and everything pushed way back.

    I've tried double-sided tape, booby-trapping the counters with cookie sheets and tin cans filled with pennies, yelling at the counters, you name it, I tried it. Nothing worked. I also can't have handtowels hanging off the fridge door or oven door or else they're toast.

    The only thing that has saved my sanity (and his butt!) is to keep my counters absolutely clear of EVERYTHING save the toaster oven, the coffee maker and my stand mixer. I also would set him up to surf (by putting yummies on the counter) and then praising him like there was no tomorrow when it looked like he might jump up but didn't, then jackpotting him with very special treats. This takes time, don't expect results overnight.

    Like Kate said, countersurfing is VERY rewarding.

    Maybe also keep the doors closed to your home office/bathroom/bedroom when you're not in there? That way he doesn't get the opportunity to jump up and see what's up there, and potentially steal something?

    I don't know if our solution is a true solution, but it works for us.


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  6. #4
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    DefaultRe: I Need Some Advice/Help

    Dutch is an EXPERT at countersurfing. He helped himself to a tub of butter just the other day. Thank God his tummy did not react while I as at work.
    The can of pennies works for Dutch, but I don't always see him in the act. I keep the edible items put up high or in cabinets so they can't get to them. Never really had the problem with bedroom dressers or bathrooms. Maybe like Felicia said, keep the doors closed or put up baby gates to keep him out.
    I've also used the water spray bottles that seem to work for Dutch and Zena, but again, you have to catch them in the act.
    I know a lot of people have used the cookie sheets on the counter so when they surf up and they fall to the floor it scares them. I think labs are smart enough to figure out the cookie sheets are not always there.
    Good luck; just know you are not alone...I'm here also yelling, NO OFF GET AWAY FROM THAT, too and mine are 5 years old!

  7. #5
    einstein's legacy is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: I Need Some Advice/Help

    Having 3 large dogs we've learned that they can reach absolutely anything they want on a counter. We keep all our kitchen counters/tables clear, but Jakie still loves stealing a kitchen towel and teflon utensils out of the dish drainer, but he only does this when I'm home to get my attention. We keep all bedroom and bathroom doors closed, and a loud angry "no" works as long as I catch them in the act. With one swift jump, if I just turn for a moment, Max (smallest of them all) manages to steal a chicken cutlet, cookie, slice of bread or half a deli sandwich from right under our noses.

    I don't consider them ill-behaved at all, just doing what any kid would do when they want something they know they can't have!! They "sneak"!!


  8. #6
    mitziandjudysmom's Avatar
    mitziandjudysmom is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: I Need Some Advice/Help

    Judy is my only surfer and I have given up on trying to correct this behavior. I do what Henerysmom does - keep counters and table clear of all food, and kitchen towels out of reach. All dog treats are on top of the refrigerator. All dog food is in canisters in the cupboards. I'm the only human in this house and I don't do this 100% of the time. There's always that time, food is out and I go to answer the phone or something when Judy takes the opportunity to grab whatever is there. I can only imagine that it's impossible with other people in the house. You can try keeping the kitchen door closed; if you don't have a kitchen door, baby gate off the kitchen, but again, this requires the cooperation of everyone in the house.
    Please don't feel that it's your fault or that you haven't properly trained Parker. When it comes to food, the average lab can outsmart any human.

  9. #7
    AngusFangus is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: I Need Some Advice/Help

    I agree that countersurfing is very rewarding, and once rewarded, there is a strong temptation to try it again. And again.

    Soooo, my strategy has been, with this and with any other item I think could potentially be attractive to them, keeping it put away. Any cookies or pies go either in the fridge or on top of the fridge. I generally avoid chocolate in the house, but sometimes you just really want some, so it goes in the fridge.

    We have very little countersurfing, because there is nothing there worth surfing.

    We did have an incident about a year ago...I had made some chicken thighs to use for training. I was letting them cool on top of the stove. Angus kept orbiting the kitchen, and I should have seen it coming, but I trusted him not to do it. Suddenly, I heard the sound of glass on glass stovetop, and I was off the couch and in the kitchen in two seconds. He had downed one chicken thigh by the time I got there. :no:

    Like Kate, I generally don't train with or use aversives either, but chicken thighs have bones in them, and he was scarfing it down whole. It scared me to DEATH! I popped his behind and yelled at him and backed him away from the stove. We have not had any countersurfing since, but that is mostly because I am better trained now. It just goes to show, you can't take anything 100% for granted.


    Connie and "The Boys":
    Angus, Yellow Lab, CGC, RE, CD
    Simon, d.b.a. Flat Coated Retriever, CGC, RE, CD

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    Crash, Pit Bull x Rottweiler x Golden Retriever

  10. #8
    AngusFangus is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: I Need Some Advice/Help

    Quote Originally Posted by einsteins legacy
    Having 3 large dogs we've learned that they can reach absolutely anything they want on a counter. We keep all our kitchen counters/tables clear, but Jakie still loves stealing a kitchen towel and teflon utensils out of the dish drainer, but he only does this when I'm home to get my attention. We keep all bedroom and bathroom doors closed, and a loud angry "no" works as long as I catch them in the act. With one swift jump, if I just turn for a moment, Max (smallest of them all) manages to steal a chicken cutlet, cookie, slice of bread or half a deli sandwich from right under our noses.

    I don't consider them ill-behaved at all, just doing what any kid would do when they want something they know they can't have!! They "sneak"!!

    That reminded me...I close any doors to rooms that haven't been dog-proofed, too. We are painting a lot in the new house, and right now it's my bathroom. So, before I leave for work every day, I do a sweep of the house and make sure nothing is out that shouldn't be, and the doors that need to be closed are closed.

    This was never necessary with Crash, but I am not sure I will ever be comfortable with Angus. Once you have gone through a blockage, you are never the same.


    Connie and "The Boys":
    Angus, Yellow Lab, CGC, RE, CD
    Simon, d.b.a. Flat Coated Retriever, CGC, RE, CD

    Gone ahead, but forever in my heart:
    Crash, Pit Bull x Rottweiler x Golden Retriever

  11. #9
    pbc
    pbc is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: I Need Some Advice/Help

    When our lab was a pup we used a squirt lemon. One teenie tiny drop of juice. From that day forward just setting the squirt lemon out where there was temptation was a cure-all. Another thing I've tried instead of the two sided sticky tape is long strips of the blue tape (comes in a roll about two inches wide). Fold over long strips of it so it is like sticky tape and hang those over the side of the counter. My dogs hated to get that on their paws. And if all else fails a mouse trap might be the answer. That is one behavior that is so rewarding it is a tough one to break. Good luck.
    Guest poster - original forum July 2001. Member 2002. nbsc

  12. #10
    Jefferson'n'Ted's Avatar
    Jefferson'n'Ted is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: I Need Some Advice/Help

    On the advice of someone on another board, I tried mousetraps. You know the old fashioned ones that SNAP loudly? You place the business end of them away from the edge--so that they are snapping towards the back of the counter. It cured Teddy from surfing the table and the counter...as long as there are mousetraps out!! LOL He only surfs if there are no mousetraps on the table or counter. As soon as I put them away he is back at it!! And he surfs for non food items as well as food. He has eaten two or three ink pens, a tube of mascara, a hand lotion bottle, my razor and more. :scare:
    “If I know every single phone call you’ve made, I’m able to determine every single person you’ve talked to; I can get a pattern about your life that is very, very intrusive. And the real question here, is what do they do with this information that they collect – that does not have anything to do with al-Qaeda? And we’re gonna trust the president and the vice president that they’re doing the right thing? Don’t count me in on that.”
    Joe Biden, 2006

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