Counter Surfing

Canine Coach Mike provides easy-to-learn training methods that will boost both you and your dog’s confidence!

This is an all-time favorite of mine since I have owned large dogs my entire life. I like to have a counter surfing plan in place before I bring a dog into my home. They understand early that the smells and noises coming from the counter or table are hard to ignore! Once your dog learns that jumping up on your counter may lead to a tasty snack they will keep coming back for more. Every time they are rewarded for jumping it reinforces the behavior and makes it a hard habit to break.

The easiest way to manage this is to put things away or move them out of your dogs view. If your dog is jumping on a table or counter when you’re in the room it is safe to say they are doing it if left unsupervised. If I leave my kitchen while food is out then my dog leaves with me. I do not want the dog to think that its ok to steal food when I’m not around! The odors coming from your trash are equally tempting, so I would put anything extra smelly into a separate bag and out of the house.

Since your dog will spend plenty of time in the kitchen they will look for a way to sneak past you and into trouble if you are not prepared. Anticipating your dog is about to make that leap up, is the first step to changing the behavior. I always assume my new dog is going to jump at some point, so I train them to offer a different behavior when they are in the room with me. If your dog has something else to do instead of counter surfing we can begin to use that as a positive deterrent.

 Asking your dog to lie down and a stay is a good start. Rewarding them for this behavior will keep them occupied and in the game. Another idea that I like to use is Mat training. If you have a place for your dog to go and relax in while there are distractions in the room this will be rewarding for both of you. This type of training can be used when company comes over or you just need a timeout. 

If you have never done this before, watch this video on my facebook page

 Once your dog has some Mat training, simply put it in the kitchen or in a spot where they can still see you. I like to train my dogs in areas of my house that are quiet and with less distractions. Each time I ask them to go to your mat and they step on it, I say “yes” and reward them with something really tasty. Bring them off the mat and then repeat the steps for a few minutes. As they begin to understand the mat is an amazing place you can try to send them from a little further away and the key here is paying them every time they get it right! The duration they spend at one time on here will take practice. Have them lie down and stay as you make the time spent in this place longer. Be sure to go slowly and in small increments of two, five, and ten seconds that they are on the Mat.

Remember to pay and praise heavily when they build up the confidence to stay in place. Keeping them occupied with a filled kong or chew toy like a bully stick is a wonderful distraction as well. If they walk off the mat simply return them and the chew back to their place.

One rule I have is if the dog is failing at a new behavior, I will make it easier for them to get it right. There is nothing wrong with ending a training session on a good note and retuning the next day to practice. When we bring a dog into our lives along with the fun times comes the trying times. We have to be on guard plenty of times, but it is part of the package of being a dog owner. The great news is a dog will be happy to work for you if you give them some direction. Keep working and the results will come.


Book Picks For Trainers

More Training Tips

Life With Dogs

Sometimes I sit and think if I need my dogs more than they need me. They have taught me to be more patient and understand...


Stranger Danger

Have you even been in a conversation with someone and noticed they are in your personal space? While they are talking the only thing that...


Counter Surfing

Dogs are naturally curious about their surroundings and if there is food in the area they will sniff it out. Jumping up on a counter...


“Dogs really love to please their humans, and using positive training methods is the fastest way to get results!”

- Canine Coach Mike

Connect With Mike


    Michael Muscato, CPDT-KA​

    The Canine Coach

    With a love for dogs and a passion for coaching, Mike is dedicated to educating people about their dogs behavior.

    Mike was introduced to horses and dogs at a young age and soon knew these animals would become a rewarding part of his life. He was inspired to train dogs by Sherwood, his first Golden Retriever in 1990. Mike is determined to make a lasting impact with every dog and their owner, using positive training methods.

    For over 20 years Mike has been a player development director for athletes, and feels right at home sharing his knowledge to help dog owners become a better coach to their dog!