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How to Keep Dogs off the Counter When Not Home

For many dog owners, coming home to find their furry friend has been on the counter can be a frustrating and even dangerous situation. Not only can dogs make a mess, but they may also get into foods that can be harmful to their health. If you’re struggling with this issue, here are some effective strategies to keep your dogs off the counter when you’re not home.

1. Clear the counters: Remove any tempting items from the counter, such as food, dirty dishes, or dirty utensils. This will make the counter less appealing to your dog.

2. Use a baby gate: Install a baby gate in the kitchen doorway to restrict your dog’s access to the counter area. This will prevent them from getting on the counter when you’re not home.

3. Provide an alternative: Dogs often jump on the counter out of boredom or to seek attention. Provide them with alternative activities, such as puzzle toys or chew toys, to keep them occupied and entertained.

4. Use deterrent sprays: Some dogs are deterred by certain smells. Spray a pet-safe deterrent spray on the counter to discourage them from jumping up. Remember to reapply the spray periodically.

5. Consider crate training: If your dog is particularly persistent in counter-surfing, crate training can be an effective solution. When you’re not home, confine your dog to a crate where they won’t have access to the counter.

6. Install motion-activated devices: Motion-activated devices, such as air canisters or noise makers, can startle your dog when they jump on the counter. Over time, they will associate the counter with negative experiences and learn to stay away.

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7. Use positive reinforcement: Reward your dog for good behavior and for staying off the counter. Use treats, praise, or playtime to reinforce the desired behavior.

8. Train the “off” command: Teach your dog the “off” command and practice it regularly. When they jump on the counter, firmly say “off” and redirect them to a more appropriate place, such as their bed or a designated spot.

9. Create a safe space: Set up a designated area for your dog when you’re not home, such as a comfortable bed or crate. Make sure it’s a cozy and inviting space that your dog enjoys spending time in.

10. Be consistent: Consistency is key when training your dog. Enforce the rules consistently, even when you’re not home. This will help reinforce the message that jumping on the counter is unacceptable behavior.

11. Seek professional help if needed: If your dog’s counter-surfing behavior persists despite your efforts, consider seeking professional help from a dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide personalized guidance and assistance.


1. Why do dogs jump on the counter?
Dogs may jump on the counter out of curiosity, seeking attention, or in search of food.

2. Can I use a shock collar to keep my dog off the counter?
It is not recommended to use shock collars as they can cause fear and anxiety in dogs.

3. How long does it take to train a dog to stay off the counter?
The time it takes to train a dog to stay off the counter varies depending on the dog and consistency in training. It can take a few weeks to a few months.

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4. Can I use a scat mat to keep my dog off the counter?
Scat mats can be effective in keeping dogs off the counter. These mats emit a harmless static pulse when touched.

5. Is it okay to leave my dog alone for long periods?
Dogs should not be left alone for extended periods regularly. They require social interaction, exercise, and mental stimulation.

6. Will punishment work in keeping my dog off the counter?
Punishment can be counterproductive and may lead to fear or aggression. Positive reinforcement is a more effective approach.

7. What breeds are more prone to counter-surfing?
Some breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, and Dachshunds, are known for their counter-surfing tendencies.

8. Can I use double-sided tape to keep my dog off the counter?
Double-sided tape can serve as a temporary deterrent, but it may not be effective for all dogs.

9. Should I lock my dog in a room when I’m not home?
Locking your dog in a room when you’re not home can lead to anxiety and destructive behavior. It’s best to provide a safe space for them.

10. Can I use a shock mat on the counter?
It is not recommended to use a shock mat on the counter as it can be dangerous and cause harm to your dog.

11. Will my dog outgrow counter-surfing?
Some dogs may outgrow counter-surfing behaviors as they mature, but it’s important to address and train against it to prevent potential dangers.