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Counter Surfing/Trash Raiding

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  • Counter Surfing/Trash Raiding

    Pardon this is long...

    I'm fostering a gorgeous Catahoula Leopard Dog, he came from the barn, before that he was in the shelter. I think someone ordered a cute puppy on the internet, saw they couldn't train it and sent him to the shelter. There is a modular home on the barn property. A new tenet moved in and adopted this dog fro the shelter.

    They did NOTHING with him. Just put out massive amounts of food, let him run loose, chase the barn cats etc. They moved out and said "We can't take him to the new place, we're going to take him back to the shelter and say he's mean." I tried desperately to find him a home in 24 hours, but couldn't. Knowing the shelter would put him down I brought him home.

    He had NO boundaries. Would pest my other dogs. Chase my cat. Knew NO commands. Didn't even know his name.

    Now all of that is fixed, except for one thing...
    He counter surfs and gets into the trash. He's gone INTO cabinets to get food. He always does it when no one is home. The crate I have is too small to keep him in for long periods. I've tried baby gates, he jumps them. I'm at my wits end. Tonight he got loose, knocked over the neighbors trash!

    I've been trying to find him a home since I brought him home. He's 19 months old. I have the trash locked up. That's when he decided to open the lazy Susan and raid it. The counter surfing continues, even when no food is on them. What can I do?


  • #2
    A bigger crate!


    • #3
      I feel bad for this dog. I think the biggest crate you can get is the answer, and they really do make large ones for the giant breeds. It's better for him, and you.


      • #4
        Bigger crate, motion activated air blaster, block things off, and/or scat mats. And LOTS of excersize. A tired dog is a good dog. My current dog (who has eaten thousands of dollars worth of stuff (including a couch)) was always much better after a good two hours of daily off leash excersize. He no longer eats everything in sight, but will counter surf or trash raid if he skips a day of going somewhere. You can also 'booby tap' areas by setting up cookie sheets to crash to the ground when disturbed, or stuff HOT peppers into bits of meat and leave them on the counter. These work with some dogs and not with others


        • Original Poster

          I feel bad for him too. He's such a sweetie. I figured that a bigger crate would be best, and am borrowing one. Just was wondering if there was any way to teach him to stop.

          I want him to find a nice forever home, but no one wants a counter surfer. He was never taught boundaries.

          He goes for walks everyday, suppose we will have to go for longer ones! The best thing for him is when we go to the barn I just can't take him everyday.


          • #6
            What about a shock collar? Our dogs learned very quickly after a few warnings and shocks what it means and can tell the difference as to when they have it on or don't have it on, but we don't even need to use the remote anymore. They know if they are wearing it they are in big trouble if they do not listen.
            "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White


            • #7
              Close all doors (can he open doors?). Baby latches on all cabinets. Trash put away behind closed door or behind a kitchen cabinet door with baby locks. Nothing on counters. Not even on the top of the refrigerator. And a BIG crate. Been there, done that, my old collie could get into anything, anywhere. She never mastered round door knobs, but she certainly tried. She could pick the latch on her crate in two minutes, carabiner took a little longer. We ended up with two carabiners, one with a sliding latch over top.

              It took about 4 years, but she did finally calm down.

              Our 2 1/2 year old lab still counter surfs if no one is watching. We just don't leave anything out. Our old collie trained us well.


              • #8
                I also would follow the managpement practices previously suggested, there are some really good ideas in the previous posts. Also,part of his education would be the "leave it"training. If you search it on the web you will find many good methods and some short videos of going through the process. First work on it next to a small end table where you have absolute control and until he understands the command, along with a verbal command, add a hand signal. My experience tells me that dogs respond to hand signals and tone of voice as much as the actual words.

                After you have that initial training set, then work on the wastebasket in the same way, having some very tempting goodies at the top of the basket.
                Then,move on to the counters, with leftovers in plain sight, then move on to the cabinets, following the same procedures.

                I have had to do this with a couple different dogs and it does work. Not an overnight fix but well worth the time and effort you put into it.

                I highly recommend the clicker training method for this.


                • #9
                  there are ways to prevent these kinds of behaviors, but once the dog learns the joys of engaging in self-rewarding behaviors you kind of have to go to technology- you don't want the dog to learn he can counter-surf/ trash raid when you aren't present, which is what will happen if you rely on owner-delivered commands, rewards, or punishment.
                  Scat mats or the Zones system are probably your best bet.


                  • #10
                    As Wendy said, self rewarding behaviors are hard to break. But, if you are willing to do something that sounds like precisely the .wrong. thing to do....this might work.

                    clear the counters of everything except appliances.

                    have a handful of really great treats

                    ask him to put his feet up on the counter, call him to you, ask for a sit, then a touch, then a sit and give him a treat. Do this 2x more for a total of 3, and then wait. I bet he totally skips the feet-on-the-counter and turns to face you. Then ask for a sit and give him a treat. Then wait.....if he puts his feet back up, take your treats and leave the room. Don't say a word, just leave. He will probably follow you where you ask for the sit/touch/sit again and give a treat.

                    I think what happens is that people respond to a counter surfer and don't think it's attention when it really is. When you ask for a behavior(feet up), but don't reward that....AND insert some behaviors into the chain, you give the dog something to do and create some distance from the unrewarded behavior so the dog will quickly shorten the chain to the part that works (sit/touch/sit) and eliminate the stuff that doesn't (feet up).


                    • #11
                      We used baited mouse traps on the counter with good luck on our few dogs that used to counter surf. My one rescue dog set it off once, maybe twice and now respects the counter and the sound of the trap. He sometimes sits up to look but just the sight of the mouse trap sends him running out of the kitchen. Never hurt any of my dogs and as I was not in there when it happened, they kind of self corrected.
                      \"I never play horseshoes \'cause Mother taught us not to throw our clothes around,\" ~ Mr. Ed


                      • #12
                        I have used a combination of things. I used the shock collars, where I can stand on my back porch and see the counter, so I would lock the back door, run to ths window and zap the snot out of the dang dogs! After 2-3 zaps they stopped..... for a while. Honestly, the best long term solution was to teach them if I was home and they touched the counter it was their behind BIG time! And then to either always crate or use basket muzzles when I wasn't home. While they occasionally have tried to get into something with the muzzles on they have only gotten fustrated and given up!

                        I would prefer to crate them, but since the size of our house vs. the size of our family completely prohibits that I have found the muzzles to be a great solution. I have these kind, where they can still drink/pant freely.


                        Also, I got them in black, since I have blue heelers and they're much less noticable, so while the dogs hate them, company hardly notices

                        Vet Tech
                        You can't fix stupid.... but you can breed it!


                        • #13
                          Any idea where to get the motion activited air blaster...saw it on Animal Planet
                          being used to keep a cat from scratching at the bedroom door.

                          Our Aussie is a surfer. We keep stuff as far back as possible but he seems to get taller and taller. Thought about the mouse traps but we have many cats
                          though they are not encouraged to get on the counter.


                          • #14
                            I use mouse traps as well, I have a Border Collie who will trash dig but after having set off the mouse trap a couple of times, the mere sight of one will deter him!

                            I do have 4 cats and have used the mouse traps to keep them out of the Christmas tree. Just make sure you set the traps to snap AWAY from the critters... I've done this for years and have never had a cat or dog suffer harm.

                            Training is great, but with some dogs it only lasts as long as someone is watching them! Crate training is also great, but sometimes we are gone all day long and I don't like to leave the BC in a crate that many hours, he's really great except for the digging (and counter surfing but we just put everything away from his reach).
                            ~ Shannon Hayden ~


                            • #15
                              I used mouse traps for my lab too (I got him when he was about 1 1/2- he had never learned any boundaries either!) and they helped a ton. I still won't leave a huge batch of cupcakes on the counter or anything really tempting like that, but the counter surfing has improved immensely and very rarely occurs.

                              I finally gave up on ever teaching him to stay out of the trash and bought this garbage can that has a latch to keep dogs from opening it! I've had it for about 5 years and it's still in great shape- though for the first few weeks after we got it, it wasn't uncommon to come home from work and find the garbage can tipped over on the other side of the kitchen with scratch marks all over the side- but the lid would still be closed!
                              Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
                              If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever