Counter Surfing: Dog Training

Counter surfing is an undesirable and dangerous habit that some dogs develop. In this guide, we’ll explore an effective training method for curbing this behavior using a modified “leave it” cue.

Setting Up for Success

Begin with the right tools and treats:

  • Place some highly enticing treats in your pocket.
  • Position a less appealing treat on the counter.

Initial Training Steps

  1. Engage Your Dog: When your dog looks at the counter, say “leave it” in your usual training voice. Note that your dog is not in trouble.
  2. Reward for Compliance: When your dog looks away from the counter or toward you, say “yes” and offer a delicious treat from your pocket.
  3. Progress Gradually: Slowly move the treat on the counter closer to the edge while stepping farther away from it. Each time your dog looks away, reward them.

 Adding Complexity

  1. Variation in Training: Alternate between having your dog stand still and walk past the “leave it” to make it more natural. Dogs aren’t always stationary in the kitchen.

 Advanced Training

  1. Increasing Challenge: Continue the training until you can step into another room, and your dog still leaves the counter alone.
  2. Elevate the Temptation: Gradually replace the initial treat with more enticing options like ham or cheese, making it hang over the edge.
  3. Testing Self-Control: For an extra challenge, set up a walkie talkie on the counter next to the “leave it.” Leave the house and observe your dog through a window. If your dog approaches the counter, use the walkie talkie to say “leave it.” When your dog complies, return and reward them.

Expanding the Training

  1. Lower Surfaces: Apply the same training process to lower surfaces such as coffee and end tables. You should be able to enjoy snacks on your coffee table without your pup attempting to steal them.

Patience and Positivity

Remember that your dog is not in trouble during training:

  • If mistakes occur, simply walk away and restart with an easier version of the exercise.
  • Training should be enjoyable and consist of successful exercises to help your dog learn the desired behavior.

Seeking Professional Help

If you continue to struggle with counter surfing issues, consider scheduling an in-home consultation with our trainer for additional guidance and support.

Contact us

Learn more:

Email us: or call us at 817-498-6410, too!

Make an appointment with us: