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Old 03-06-2011, 08:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Help with Counter Surfing

Hi, i need some help and suggestions on how to help my 18month old boxer stop counter surfing and stealing clothes. He's just started this nonsense in the last few days, and has managed to grab, a porkchop, a half bag of cheesies, my son's underwear (clean or dirty) and his slicker brush. Any suggestions on how to help him stop this behavior would be a godsend as he is finding he is spending extra time in his kennel when he cant be watched. And even when being watched he will scoop things and tear off in the other direction playing a game of "catch me if you can".

On a lighter note we "Mastered the walk" today...i was so excited when he just walked at my side, and kept touching my free hand to make sure he was not ahead !! Yippee!!
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Old 03-06-2011, 11:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Honestly all I can suggest is don't leave things on your counters or tables (hard I know) but it works. The foster we just took in has tried it but if you don't see him do it you can't stop the behavior.
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Old 03-07-2011, 12:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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OH I hear you. I myself have this problem with Mya. She actually scares away when I yell a big 'No!' but anytime she can she would actually go for the counters......to 'sniff'.

I've been using a combo of bitter apple and No when i see her about to do it. Hopefully over time it'll stop. I've read somewhere that pups do this because they see us always doing something on the counter and they're curious.

Yes, so hopefully over time she'll behave.
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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OK – I am going to provide a suggestion but I need to say that I have NOT tried this because I am not sure that it is the right thing to do. As a matter of fact, it may be a horrible idea. So, I would be interested to hear what other people have to say.

First, you should know that that the idea was given to me by several co-workers from a “Dear Heloise” type article they read. It was given to me after I was telling them about a week I had in October. Although not really relevant to the advice, I am going to share my experience to “counter surfing”. (Just because it still cracks me up!!)

At seven months, I decided to start letting Karma out of her crate for short trips and then progressed to longer trips. The first day I left her out when I was out work, she cleared EVERYTHING off of my counters. The second time, when nothing was on my counters, she cleared everything off of the top of my fridge. (That day, she also chewed three electrical wires).

The funny part was that I had no idea how she was getting up there. When I am home, she shows no interest in the counters. I even tried to temp her leaving a bone on the counter while I faked sleeping on the couch. I was stumped for about a week – until one day, she tipped her hand. After a rather manic boxer burn around the house, she jumped on my couch, leapt onto the end table and jumped about three feet onto the kitchn counter. She had to crouch in the space between the counter and the shelves. She got into the sink and then jumped the three feet onto the counter next to the fridge. From there, she put her paws on top the fridge. This all happened in less than 10 seconds. All I could do was watch in astonishment. When I came to my senses, I just cleared my throat. She looked at me is total surprise (I really think she forgot I was in the house.) As soon as she heard me, she turned around – got off the same route she got on and raced upstairs out of sight!

Now – for the suggestion that co-workers gave me (from the article). The article suggested taking aluminum cans, putting something like dried beans in them, taping them shut and tying them together – along with something the dog would find interesting. When the dog grabs it off the counter, the cans will come to and the noise is supposed to scare them enough not to try this again.

This idea peeks my interest but again, I haven’t tried this because (1) I struggle with the idea of intentionally scaring her (2) she doesn’t typically do this when I am home and (3) because of the electrical cord issue, I have decided that she is not safe to out of the crate yet. I am just going to have to give her more time to mature.

All in all, I just figured that my kitchen might as well look like the rest of my house. When I got Karma, I packed up all of my cute decorations from my living room, dining room and bedroom. They are still in boxes in my attic!

Maybe other people have input they would like to share on whether this is something that could work or whether this would be a big "NO - NO".
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Old 03-07-2011, 05:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I've never had this issue, but I don't think I would have a problem with the tin can idea. I imagine yelling "NO!" probably scares them too, but probably not as much as the cans. I would be worried that my dog would knock a knife off the counter or something else that could hurt her. Also, jumping onto and off of a slippery surface can be dangerous, especially for dogs that are prone to knee/hip problems. I would rather scare her a couple of times than have her in danger of really hurting herself. But then again I am a bit off a tough love person, and whole heartedly subscribe the the short term pain for long term gain mantra!
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Old 03-07-2011, 07:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: KarmaGirl's post...this method can be very effective, even though it may sound a bit cruel. Laila counter-surfed once, and, never did it again, I believe, because it scared the heck out of her. When she was a puppy she tried to get a bowl of olives off the kitchen table, it came down with such a crash it made her run for the hills! And, that was it...never again. A friend of mine had a dog who kept stealing food off the table. Finally, someone suggested slamming a phone book on the table when she was stealing. One slam of the phone book and that was it!

Running off and stealing things....you could keep a leash on him and grab the leash instead of chasing him, which I'm sure you know will just encourage the behavior because that is fun for them! Once you have him, get him to give the object (you could trade for a treat) and then just walk away. And, this may sound totally insane, but, yell at the object he stole "BAD pork chop!" I know, I know...crazy, lol..., but, this has worked for us. Laila never counter surfs or takes anything that doesn't belong to her.

Also, some NILF (nothing in life is free) may help. Make him work for anything he gets. This way he knows that you are the keeper of things, and he may only have it if you give it to him.

Hope this helps!
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Old 03-07-2011, 09:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You may all think I'm horrible but I"m a big fan of the electronic collar. Especially for a large 18month old, never on a small pup. Our collar has both the shock feature as well as a vibration only mode. It scares the pants off him without hurting him and without me feeling guilty about it. It works from 500feet so easy enough to discharge the collar without him even knowing I had anything to do with it! Love it!!! Honestly once they get that buzzing behind the ears, they are forever cured. It even cured him of his little "come catch me if you can" nonsense, it took us 3hrs to get him in from the backyard one day - I spent $75.00 on the collar and only used it twice. It was worth every penny!!!
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