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Holiday Training Tip: Countering Counter-Surfing

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As we have family over to celebrate the holidays, our kitchens become laden with tempting treats and mouthwatering smells. For dogs that are tall or athletic enough to reach a counter, the opportunity to help themselves can be too good to pass up! Irith Bloom, KPA CTP and ClickerExpo faculty member, offers the following tips to help your dog keep those paws on the floor:

  • Eliminate temptation by blocking off the kitchen or keeping the counters clear. Managing the environment is the easiest way to change a dog's behavior.
  • Teach your dog that good stuff in the kitchen is on the floor. Armed with a clicker and treats, walk into the kitchen with your dog. Before your dog has a chance to look up toward the counter, click and toss a treat on the ground between your dog's feet. As he looks up from the first treat, click and toss another treat between his feet or nearby. Move around the kitchen, clicking and tossing treats as you go, and then exit the kitchen with your dog.
  • “Preload” the kitchen with treats. Toss a few treats ahead of you as you begin your next session, so that as soon as you enter the kitchen your dog finds treats on the floor. Proceed to click and treat your way around the kitchen, and then leave again. In time, your dog will learn to look down for treats instead of up as soon as you walk into the kitchen together.
  • Strengthen the association of floor = food. “Seed” the kitchen floor with treats once in a while, so that your dog learns to look down for food, rather than on the counters, even when you are not there. Be sure to keep the counters clean just in case!

Good luck—and happy holidays from Karen Pryor Clicker Training!