Dog’s Eye View: Opportunity knocks
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
To dog owners, diligent or not so diligent, the bane of our existence is counter surfing. Some stories are funny, some are scary, but all are worth sharing.
A friend of mine relates how her beautifully behaved Labrador retriever became a skilled counter surfer after just one try. Arriving home after a lovely dinner of beef brisket, the doggy bag was innocently placed on the kitchen counter. Leaving the room for a moment left the beef vulnerable to the inquisitive, drooling mouth of her dog. When she returned, the package was gone. Thereafter, no food was safe on any counter. It only took one incident. Maybe we should rename the containers that we bring home from the restaurant.
One German shorthaired pointer has a selective counter surfing style. He ignores packaged foods, such as bagged potato chips, but considers fresh food to be his for the taking. His creative chef owner had just finished baking ten, plus or minus, rabbit pot pies and left them, fresh out of the oven, to cool on the counter. He returned later to find all but one or two completely gone. Was it the wild game that lured this hunting dog to the counter? Was it just the irresistible aroma of fine cuisine? He is a confirmed and habitual counter surfer.
This innocent border collie mix was apparently thinking ahead when she purloined an unopened package of fresh hamburger that was left on a counter. The owners stepped outside to get the charcoal fire burning. When they returned to the kitchen, the package was gone. Their immediate thought was that their dog had eaten it and seemed OK. She seemed fine in the morning and showed no signs of sickness. They decided to go ahead and leave. Upon returning several days later, they found her to be happy and healthy. The kennel reported no gastric problems.
Counter surfing is a crime of opportunity. It’s the same as leaving your car running when you run into the post office for a minute and return to find someone jumped into your car and took off.
Sometimes aversive techniques may help to startle a dog and make surfing not so rewarding. Check out the “Snappy Trainer.” It’s like a giant plastic mouse trap, but safe to use for a startle effect. Some people put empty cans on the counter that will rattle and fall if the dog puts its paws up there.
Vigilance and an empty counter are the best prevention.
Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training with more than 30 years of experience.
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