Some great ideas for your dog’s bad behavior and counter surfing

We were actually at a friend’s home in Dawson County last week when a neighbor noticed our Home Dog Training signs on our car.  She came over and asked us if we were dog trainers.  Well, we told her that we were Home Dog Trainers and worked with all sorts of canine behavior, dog obedience, socialization, etc.  She thought that was great and had a question for us.  “My dog is normally great, but he loves to counter surf.  Easter is this weekend and we are having all our family over for a big dinner.  What can I do to make sure our dinner doesn’t end up with him?”

Easter weekend is one of those times where we have family, food, and friends over.  This is normally not the way the house is most of the year.  We have a lot of food out and about.  Many times, we don’t keep track or watch that food.  Also, our guests tend to leave their plates and goodies around the house and move on to do other things.  What is happening is that the entire house is becoming a big buffet for our dog.

What we have to do is to first understand our dog’s concept of food ownership.  If food is left unattended for a long period of time (your guests have food on a coffee table, but aren’t actively eating) or you abandon the food (physically walk away from it), there is no longer a clear picture of ownership.

We need to understand that in the wild, the Alpha Wolf would be the first to eat the killed hunt.  The Alpha Wolf would then walk away from the food, indicating that he was done and that the remaining food is now available for everyone else.  It it is natural that our dog would go after the “unattended or abandoned” food.  This could be on a dinner table, kitchen counter, coffee table, etc.

Here is what you do:

  • Do not leave the food unattended.  If you have to, pick up your plate and place it where your dog can’t get it.
  • Feed your dog when you are eating.  Feeding your dog at the same time you are eating will provide an enjoyable distraction and encourage him to obey your needs.
  • Define boundaries.  When you are cooking or have food out in the kitchen, set a boundary where your dog is not allowed in the kitchen.  Correct him as he approaches your boundary and praise him when he obeys you.  This can also be done for the dinner table, coffee table, etc.
  • Make sure that you do not allow your guests to feed your dog (I really mean this!).  This might be fun for your guests, but it will be a terrible thing to teach him for the rest of the year.
  • Give your dog his own goodies (Deer antlers, Kong toys with peanut butter, greenies, etc.).  This will help to redirect him from your goodies.
  • Make sure that you get your dog outside and play with him on a regular basis.  Getting him tired will minimize his wanting to engage with you inside.

Remember, it is OK to “correct your guests”.  They aren’t the ones who will have to live with the inappropriately learned behavior for the next fifty-one weekends of the year.

Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help.  We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Dawson County Georgia.  Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Dawson County Georgia.