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Counter Surfing: a great sport for dogs

February 2, 2009

I’ve received lots of questions from owners of inquisitive caninesabout “stealing” stuff off of counters and table tops… Hello? We’re dogs! These are some of our normal traits, and what makes us dogs in the first place…If you wanted a pet that didn’t do this, you should have considered getting a turtle or a fish… But, I’m glad to hear you adopted a dog…and I’m more than happy to provide some help.

Here are a few tips on dealing with us inquisitive canines and the sport of counter-surfing:

  • What dogs are: our doggy DNA says for us to scavenge, hunt, sniff, explore … That’s what we were born to do! Please remember this. The saying is “Release the hounds!” not “release the humans”!
  • Management: “Lead us not into temptation.” If you don’t want us to get to something, then put it away! After all, if it’s within reach, and appears interesting, we’re going to investigate! Us canines have been known to be impulsive and lack self-control. Please refrain from leaving things out, especially if you’re not going to keep an eye on us. And if you do, kindly have the integrity to take responsibility for it! (Maybe mom will blog about her latest visit to the Sees candy shop in Santa Barbara).
  • Play the exchange game, not the chase game: if we have something “illegal”, exchange it for something better – this way we’ll be happy to give it up, and not develop that other doggy hard-wired behavior of guarding our stuff! You don’t really like that one either… And for goodness sake, does chasing us really help matters? Or just turn it into a different game? A game most inquisitive canines love.
  • Provide Legal Outlets: make sure they’re items we like, not ones you think we should like. (Have you ever wanted to return a gift someone gave you?) As a bonus, reward us for making the right choice, this way, we’ll want to do that more often.
  • Teach us a special behavior: “Drop” comes in handy. You say “drop”, your dog lets go of the item, and you give them a treat … pretty simple. It’s just the reverse action of picking things up with our mouth…instead of retrieving we’re dropping something.

I used to counter-surf too…but mom and dad quickly figured out how to solve their problem. Bummer for me…I guess I trained them to pay attention. I wonder if the surf will ever be up for me again? Hmm, something for this inquisitive canine to ponder…


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