Surely, when it comes to bad dog behavior, there isn’t much more frustrating than placing a delicious plate of food on the table, forgetting to place a cover on it, and returning to discover your dog has enjoyed your dinner. Not only is your food gone, but your dog is eating food that probably isn’t good for him.
As an owner, this should be an easy problem to fix, right? Your dog shouldn’t be stealing food from you, or so you think. You’re the one in charge. Your dog is the dog. This is your house. But, in actuality, where food is concerned, lots of dogs get a glazed look in their eyes and turn into food monsters. Owner? What owner?
That’s why it’s your job, as the owner, to train your dog about the basic boundaries regarding food, and the consequences, when it comes to tables and counters.
The very first thing you have to do is stop giving your dog any tablescraps. If you command your dog not to get any food from the counter but you turn around and offer him the same food later, you will only confuse your dog.
On the other hand, if you show your dog that the food is yours and he is never allowed to have it, you are setting a boundary that your dog can understand.
Tables and Counters
With that out of the way, you can teach your dog that he won’t get anything by trying to reach the counter. As with other behaviors, you need to teach him that there are consequences if he does it. That doesn’t mean you should punish your dog. That usually doesn’t work. Instead, you will show your dog that something unpleasant happens.
To begin, try to keep food away from your dog and out of his reach as much as you can. Even if the training is going well, don’t tempt your dog or put food in his way. Secondly, you need to make the behavior of jumping up toward the table or counter scary and unpleasant for your dog.
You can do this by placing something on the table or counter that your dog will knock down when he jumps up. You can use bottles or empty soda cans filled with a few pennies or rocks. These items are very loud when they rattle and they should scare your dog away.
It might take a few days or more for your dog to learn, but most dogs usually learn quickly that when he jumps up to grab something to eat, he will encounter something noisy, loud, and unpleasant instead.
Maintaining Your Authority
Your dog will continue to respect you as long as you keep your position as the alpha leader in your home. For some people counter jumping is never an issue because the dog has respect for them and their authority. But you need to keep that authority.
Don’t weaken and give your dog table scraps or ask him to clean up some food at the table or on the kitchen floor. Once you have set your boundaries you need to keep them.
If you begin making exceptions you will just confuse your dog and that will lead to situations that will result in missing food and household members who will be angry. If you have to, you can resort to blocking your dog from going into rooms where there is food that he could grab.
Whatever the situation in your home, you should keep in mind that it’s a bad idea to let your dog have access to your tables and counters and it can result in some hungry humans and maybe a very sick dog.
Please share your thoughts. Does your dog get on tables and counters? How were you able to stop it? Don’t be shy, please leave a comment below. We can’t wait to read your response!
Until next time……
About the Author: Wayne Booth is owner of Canine Behavior Specialists in Nashville, TN. Wayne has been teaching people how to become Professional Dog Trainers since 1990 and he is the Training Director of Canine Behavior Specialists Network, www.K9-University.com