Dogs are highly food-driven, so that means that they will try to get a taste of your food on the kitchen counter. Puppies tend to be the most eager since they are energetic and are yet to be trained. However, this habit can prove dangerous once your pup gets its paw on toxic food ingredients. So with that, you should know how to stop puppy from jumping on counter.
In this post, I will share my tried and tested methods, which you can also try on your dog. Just remember that each dog is different, and so is its response to training.
Why is your puppy jumping on the counter?
Counter surfing is a common problem among dogs. After all, these elevated surfaces are convenient sources of food for an insatiable canine.
Remember that canines are opportunists and scavengers in nature. They do this to survive in the wild, so don’t be surprised if you’re missing one slice of sausage from your plate.
Aside from searching for food, jumping on your kitchen counter can be a learned behavior. Some dogs do this to catch their owners’ attention.
Also, puppies that jump on counters are often bored and will expel their energy through negative behavior. It can also be a sign that your dog has anxiety issues and is jumping on the counter as a coping mechanism.
Take note that most pups will counter surf when their owners aren’t around. This is why such behavior is difficult to detect and correct. Worse, some pet owners lose their beloved canines due to poisoning related to xylitol and other human food with toxic ingredients to dogs.
With this, prevention and training are key to solving the issue. Even if you don’t catch your dog while counter surfing, it’s still best to train them to prevent such a bad habit.
How to stop puppy from jumping on counter
Puppies are balls of energy, so counter surfing is something most owners should expect. This is much so for breeds known for their food drive. If you’re dealing with this dilemma, the following are some of the methods you can try.
The first thing you need to do is remove any attractants that are making your dog seek the kitchen counter. It could be any food item or smelly things that your dog wants to get.
Most importantly, you should clean up your counter after preparing or eating a meal. This way, your dog won’t pick up any scents.
Aside from that, it’s important to ask your family members not to leave any food on the counter. It only takes a second for a pup to leap and take a bite of your forgotten snack.
✔️Use dog deterrents
If you want instant results, deterrents are great solutions. Here are a few that you can try:
- Chew deterrents. A chew deterrent like a bitter apple is an effective and safe choice. If your dog tries to lick the counter, it will be put off by the awful taste. Over time, your dog will associate the counter with an unpleasant experience.
- Tinfoil. Most dogs hate the sensation when their paws touch tin foil. If your pup reacts the same way, you can use the material as a deterrent for your pet. Your dog will be dissuaded from touching the counter because of the weird sensation on their paws and the crinkling sound of the foil.
- Spices. In some cases, you don’t have to look elsewhere to keep your pup from jumping on the counter. You can use pepper, cayenne powder, or a slice of lemon to discourage your puppy from jumping on the counter. Nevertheless, you should proceed with caution as these kitchen supplies can cause irritation in dogs.
- Pet corrector spray. If you don’t want to expose your pup to harsh sprays, you can use a pet corrector instead. This comes in a spray can, but instead of chemicals, it releases a hiss of air. It serves as a warning sound that can scare a dog away from your kitchen counter. However, this method isn’t passive, so it’s only useful when you’re around.
- Ultrasonic devices. There are divided opinions about the efficacy of ultrasonic devices in dogs. Still, it doesn’t hurt to try and see if it will actually repel your puppy from jumping into the kitchen counter. However, you should know that the ultrasonic wave can also affect other pets, especially smaller ones.
✔️Don’t feed anything from the counter.
One mistake that reinforces counter surfing is pet owners’ habit of tossing leftovers from the counter to their dogs. When done habitually, the canine will start to seek food by jumping into the counter.
So before that happens, you shouldn’t indulge your dog in any food from the counter. First, it’s important to establish that your dog has his own mealtime.
To make this method effective, you have to involve your whole family. Kids are more likely to break this rule, so you should explain to them the consequences of feeding the dog from the counter.
Aside from that, you should feed your dog away from your counter if possible. This way, your pooch won’t associate the kitchen with its main place for eating.
✔️Teach the ‘leave it’ command
A very important part of curbing counter surfing in dogs is consistent training. One thing that you should train your puppy for is the ‘leave it’ command. This will let you correct your dog as counter-surfing occurs.
To teach the leave it command, here are the steps you can take:
- First, place a smelly treat inside your fist and let your dog smell it.
- If your dog tries to paw or lick your hand, say “leave it”. The key here is associating the cue word with the behavior you want to get from your pet.
- Once your dog stops sniffing or licking your hand, say ‘yes’ or ‘good’. After that, hand the treat immediately.
- After that, you can try adding distance.
- Put your dog on a short leash, then throw the treat at a distance.
- Once your dog starts pulling, say “leave it!”.
- The moment your dog stops pulling, give it a treat from your hand. Remember not to let the dog retrieve the treat you toss on the floor.
- Once your dog gets the hang of training, you can place the treat on the counter.
- If your pup tries to counter surf, say “leave it”. Follow it with the sit command.
- Once your dog’s butt touches the floor, give a treat from your hand. Again, never give the treat from the counter.
- Do these steps repeatedly until your puppy responds to the ‘leave it’ cue in an instant.
✔️Reward good behavior
Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to train a dog. Whether it is stopping a pup from jumping into the counter or other harsh behavior, a reward system will yield the best results.
For example, if your dog stopped counter surfing when you say “leave it”, you should give it a reward immediately. It can be in the form of treats or affection.
Also, it’s important to remember that you should never correct your dog after the deed is done. If you do so, your dog won’t understand the purpose of the correction.
Aside from that, rewards should be exclusive for good behavior. Never provide treats or affection to puppies if they don’t respond well to your commands.
✔️Offer alternative behavior
Many dogs will counter surf when they are bored. In this case, offering an alternative behavior would be a big help.
You can start by providing more engaging toys to your dog. The likes of sniff mats, KONG toys, and dog puzzles are excellent options. All of these toys provide mental stimulation to dogs, which can take the kitchen counter off their minds.
Aside from that, distractions will help keep your dog away from the counter. The key here is making other parts of your home more interesting than the kitchen counter.
You should also provide physical stimulation to your dog. Daily walks, playtime, and exercise will help drain a pup’s excess energy. While it won’t solve counter surfing, it will reduce the likelihood of your dog jumping to steal food.
✔️Set up baby gates
If your puppy is taking longer than usual to respond to training, you can set up baby gates. This will bar the pup from entering the kitchen and jumping into the counter.
Take note that baby gates should be considered temporary or alternative solutions from time to time. Training is still necessary since dogs could vent their jumping into other elevated surfaces in your home.
✔️Practice behavior proofing
Last but not the least, you should ‘proof’ the training of your puppy. Proofing ensures that your pooch won’t ‘break character’ once there are temptations on the kitchen counter.
You can do the proofing process by placing food on your kitchen counter. After that, observe your pup and see if it will try to jump. If it does, you can use the ‘leave it’ command. Your dog may take a few days to understand that the kitchen counter is off limits fully.
Take note that some dogs may require retraining once exposed to real-life distractions. This depends on how food-driven the canine is and how consistent your training process will be.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do puppies outgrow their jumping habits?
A: Puppies will only outgrow their jumping habits if they are trained out of it. Otherwise, your dog will grow into a misbehaving canine. The earlier you address jumping and counter surfing, the easier it will be to fix. The key here is patience and the right approach.
Q: How will I know if my dog is counter surfing?
A: You can try placing a piece of kibble on the counter before you leave. If it vanishes and there are lick marks on the counter, it’s likely that your pup jumped to the counter. You can also set up a dog camera to see your pet’s activity while you’re away.
Q: Why does my pup stand between me and the counter?
A: If your dog stands between you and the counter, it might be begging for some table scraps. Generally, your dog wants something from the counter, and he hopes that you’ll toss it to him. But no matter how much your dog begs, you should never oblige because this will reinforce the negative behavior.
Q: What are the risks of couch surfing in dogs?
A: The biggest danger of couch surfing in canines is poisoning. Many human food items have ingredients that are toxic to dogs. For example, keto bread with xylitol can kill a puppy. The same goes for food items like grapes, chocolate, salty sausages, and so on. Aside from that, there might be hot soup on the counter, which may scald your dog upon jumping.
Q: How do I keep my dog out of the kitchen?
A: Deterrents work really well in keeping canines out of the kitchen. Nevertheless, this should be paired with training to ensure that your pooch won’t sneak and steal whatever’s on the counter. Most of all, you should never tolerate your dog following or tailgating you to the kitchen.
Q: Is counter-surfing normal for puppies?
A: Counter-surfing can be said normal for most dogs, but it should never be tolerated. This behavior can become worse as the canine ages. By then, it will be more difficult to correct. So as early as possible, you should train your pup to curb its jumping behavior. This will also become beneficial in other areas of your home, not just your kitchen counters.
Knowing how to stop puppy from jumping on counter is a matter of safety. Many human food items are toxic to dogs. If your pup jumps into the counter and steals some of these food items, you’re in for an expensive trip to the vet.
Overall, remember that positive reinforcement and training are the best course of action. Never punish or use violence since those will only create more problems in the long run.