9 Tips And Tricks How to Stop Your Dog From Counter-Surfing

how to stop dog from counter surfing

Counter-surfing is a widespread issue affecting many households, with a significant percentage of dog owners reporting that their pets engage in this behavior.

According to a survey conducted by the American Kennel Club (AKC), 45% of dog owners have experienced counter surfing at least once.

This problem is not limited to any specific breed or size of dog, as it can occur with dogs of all types and sizes.

Why Dogs Counter Surf

Dogs counter-surf for various reasons, including:

Food Motivation

Just like us, dogs are drawn to the enticing aromas of food.

If they catch a whiff of something delicious left unattended on the counter, their natural instinct drives them to investigate further.

It’s akin to us catching the scent of freshly baked cookies and feeling compelled to indulge.

To mitigate this, it’s crucial to store food securely and out of reach.


Dogs are endlessly curious creatures, constantly exploring their surroundings to understand the world better.

When they spot something intriguing on the counter, their inquisitive nature prompts them to investigate.

Much like a child reaching for a shiny object, dogs may leap up to satisfy their curiosity about what lies atop the counter.

Attention seeking

Dogs, like humans, crave interaction and attention from their loved ones.

If they feel neglected or under-stimulated, they may resort to attention-seeking behaviors, such as counter-surfing, to garner their focus.

This behavior serves as a plea for engagement and companionship, akin to a child acting out to gain parental attention.

Lack of obedience training

Without proper guidance, dogs may not understand that counter-surfing is unacceptable behavior.

If they haven’t been taught alternative actions or boundaries, they may continue to engage in this behavior simply because they haven’t learned otherwise.

Consistent and patient obedience training is crucial in establishing rules and expectations.

Boredom and lack of exercise

 Dogs thrive on mental and physical stimulation.

If they’re not adequately exercised or mentally challenged, they may seek out activities to alleviate their boredom.

Counter surfing can become a form of entertainment and mental engagement for them, much like a human turning to a hobby to pass the time.

Separation anxiety

Dogs are social animals with a strong bond to their human companions.

When left alone for extended periods, they may experience separation anxiety, manifesting in various behaviors, including counter surfing.

This behavior serves as a coping mechanism to alleviate their distress and provide a distraction from their loneliness.


How to Prevent Counter Surfing

Preventing counter surfing requires a combination of training, management, and environmental changes.

Here are some effective strategies to help you stop your dog from counter-surfing:

Let’s explore these strategies in more detail to effectively prevent counter surfing behavior in dogs:

Keep the counter clean

Dogs are naturally drawn to food remnants and enticing smells.

Regularly wiping down your kitchen counters to remove any food residue or crumbs helps eliminate the temptation for your dog to investigate further.

By maintaining a clean and clutter-free countertop, you reduce the likelihood of your dog being lured into counter surfing.

Use a barrier

Installing a physical barrier, such as a countertop protector or a gate, serves as a simple yet effective way to block your dog’s access to the counter.

These barriers create a physical obstacle that prevents your dog from reaching the countertop and its tempting treasures.

Ensure the barrier is sturdy and tall enough to deter even the most determined canine climbers.


Active supervision is key to preventing counter-surfing behavior.

When your dog is in the kitchen, especially during food preparation or mealtimes, keep a close eye on them to intervene promptly if they attempt to jump onto the counter.

Redirect their attention to appropriate activities and reinforce positive behaviors through praise and rewards.

Provide alternative activities

Dogs thrive on mental stimulation and engagement.

Offer your dog alternative activities to redirect their focus away from the counter.

Interactive puzzle toys, chew toys, or engaging in obedience training sessions are excellent ways to keep your dog mentally stimulated and occupied.


Consistent training

Implementing consistent and positive reinforcement-based training is essential in preventing counter-surfing behavior.

Teach your dog appropriate behaviors and boundaries through reward-based training methods.

Use commands such as “leave it” or “off” to communicate what is expected when they approach the counter. 

Reward good behavior

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in shaping your dog’s actions.

When your dog chooses to refrain from counter-surfing and instead stays grounded, it’s essential to acknowledge and reward this behavior promptly.

A hearty “good boy/girl” coupled with a tasty treat communicates to your dog that staying off the counter yields positive outcomes.

Manage your dog’s access

Prevention is often the most effective strategy.

By managing your dog’s access to the kitchen, you can significantly reduce the temptation to engage in counter surfing.

Utilize physical barriers like closing doors or employing baby gates to confine your dog to areas where countertop access is restricted. 

Teach basic obedience

Establishing a foundation of obedience is essential in fostering a well-behaved canine companion.

Teach your dog fundamental commands such as “stay” and “leave it” to instill discipline and control.

Consistent practice and reinforcement of these commands help your dog understand and comply with your expectations, including staying off the counters.

Use deterrents

Sometimes, a gentle reminder is needed to deter your dog from exploring forbidden territories.

Consider employing deterrents like citrus sprays or vinegar, which emit odors that many dogs find unpleasant.

Simply apply these substances to the edges of countertops or areas prone to countersurfing. 



Counter-surfing is a common problem that can be prevented with the right strategies and techniques.

By understanding why your dog is counter-surfing and implementing the tips outlined in this article, you can maintain a safe and healthy home environment for both your dog and your family.

Remember to always supervise your dog, provide alternative activities, and reward good behavior to help them develop good habits.


My dog is sneaky! How can I catch them in the act?

Use a baby gate to keep them out of the kitchen, or tether them to you while you cook. Consider a pet camera to monitor them remotely.

What if my dog jumps on the counter despite training?

Consistency is key! Everyone in the house needs to use the same commands and corrections. If it persists, consult a professional dog trainer.

Are there any deterrents I can use?

Some people use scat mats (pressure-activated mats that emit a startling sound), but these should be a last resort and used with caution.

Should I yell at my dog for counter-surfing?

No! Punishment can backfire and create anxiety. Focus on positive reinforcement and redirection.

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