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How to stop dog from stealing things off worktop?

(19 Posts)
JulietBravoJuliet Wed 25-Sep-13 12:50:36

Just got home from work to find the dog has stolen a loaf of bread off the side. Again. She doesn't eat it; just punctures every single bloody slice and renders it un-eatable! I'm aware she does this, and I try my best to remember to move stuff, but sometimes I forget. Totally my fault, I know!

She has never, ever done this when I'm in the house, and it's the only thing she does when I'm not, but anything left on the side gets stolen and played with; apples, bananas, bread etc! I never tell her off for it as it's my fault for leaving it there, but I can tell the second I walk in the door if she's had something as she slinks past me looking guilty lol

Is there any way to train this out of her or do I just need to be more vigilant? I've watched the kikopup videos on stopping dogs stealing food, but, when I'm home, she'd never dream on jumping on the table or sides. She's 5.5 yo and a collie x poodle btw, and not normally food driven in the slightest!

Bowlersarm Wed 25-Sep-13 12:53:29

I haven't tried it but I have heard it suggested to make a really, really strong mustard sandwich and leave it on the side in temptations way. After trying that, hopefully she'll think twice.

JulietBravoJuliet Wed 25-Sep-13 12:56:10

Unfortunately, with all the food sensitivities she has, I think I'd be making a rod for my back doing that as she would no doubt have the shits for a week!

Lilcamper Wed 25-Sep-13 15:00:15

The easiest way to stop counter surfing is to set the dog up for success in the first place and not leave anything edible out.

Lilcamper Wed 25-Sep-13 15:16:27

Dogs are scavengers by nature, if it's out, it's fair game. The look that you see her give isn't guilt,it's appeasement, dogs are very good at reading human expressions and she will know you are miffed before you do.

idirdog Wed 25-Sep-13 16:06:47

Prevention prevention and prevention.

Counter surfing is self rewarding if they find food etc to steal. If there is no food they will not counter surf.

mustard sandwiches, making saucepan lids fall off the counter putting on sticky tape, will only stress your dog waste your time and you will still have a counter surfer

kikopup working on counter conditioning preventation this can work for some dogs

onedogandababy Wed 25-Sep-13 16:13:17

Anyway of keeping her out of the kitchen? We used baby gates to keep ours in the hallway, and now we just keep everything pushed to the back...including tea towels and ovengloves - a tasty treat apparently hmm grin.

A mustard sandwich may not work anyway, when ours was a pup, chewing on the door architrave, we 'painted' Tabasco on. She chewed, drank a lot of water, chewed some more!

Frettchen Wed 25-Sep-13 16:24:57

I completely agree with Lilcamper and idirdog - don't leave any food out where it can be reached.

I'd also be thinking of providing more stimulation to the dog. Dogs repeatedly do things for one of two reasons - they get enjoyment out of it, or they are afraid not to do it. This sounds very much like the first option - she's getting something out of taking food and playing with it. Maybe get some new toys/play more games with her before you leave her so she's not seeking this sort of fulfilment when you're not there.

Also it's worth remembering that your dog is not at any point feeling guilty. Dogs live in the now, they don't dwell on what they've done. If you get home and find something half-eaten and display anger/irritation (or even just a slight 'huff' and a refusal to play) a number of times then your dog is learning that if there's food on the floor and you've just got home then you're going to be angry/irritated. There's no concept of blame or guilt or any thought of how the food got there, there's just the expectation of something unrewarding which is causing the 'guilty' look..

JulietBravoJuliet Wed 25-Sep-13 17:03:19

When I say guilty, I mean she shoots past me out of the door before I've even got upstairs to the kitchen and seen any mess, so I know what to expect before I get there! Can't keep her out of the kitchen as house is completely open plan. It's not a massive problem, as she doesn't actually eat anything, just puts a few teeth marks in it, and I know it's my fault and I need to put things away, but I'm human and scatty and sometimes I forget in the rush to get to school/work!

She gets a good 45 minutes to an hour's walk every morning before she's left, running with other dogs and playing with her ball, and completely ignores any toys or treats that I leave her with in the house. She's being left for a couple of hours a day maximum at the minute as I've lost one of my jobs, so working very part time and a bit from home, so can't see that it's boredom as I'm home and walking her/playing with her more than I've ever been. Guess I'll just have to make sure I'm more vigilant!

Steamedcabbage Wed 25-Sep-13 17:13:58

I know of a dog trainer who deals with this through noise aversion.

She doesn't seem to have any details about it on line but have found something similar ...

My favourite deterrent for repeat offenders is the "soda can trap." Stack 10 or so empty cans at the scene of the crime and place a few pennies in each for extra noise. Attach a 2-foot string to the bottom row of cans with duct tape and tie the other end to a tasty piece of meat placed near the edge of the counter. Say nothing and walk away. The trick is a lot of drag on the string so that when she grabs the bait the cans come crashing down and "chase" her as she absconds with the booty.

If she drops the bait, the scary sound stops. If she picks it back up the cans start chasing her again. If you rig this correctly she'll think twice before ever putting those paws on your counter again.

Seems a bit harsh to scare them but it does work!

moosemama Wed 25-Sep-13 18:01:20

Scaring them like that wouldn't work with many dogs Steamed. It would make them aversive to whatever particular food you used in that particular location and that's it.

The problem is that she's being intermittently reinforced for counter-surfing and that's the strongest form of reinforcement, so makes it more likely she'll try again.

Obviously prevention is better than cure, but we're only human and none of us is perfect. I was ill earlier this week and forgot to shut the dog-gate when I left the room to go to the bathroom. End result was a puppy who pulled a whole latte cup (2 mugs worth) of hot blackcurrant (that I had placed on a shelf above the sofa - out of reach while I was in the room and supervising him ) over himself, my sofa and very nearly my laptop. Totally my mistake, I wasn't vigilant enough as a result of being ill. I cleaned up the mess, washed his legs, thanked my lucky stars it had cooled down and wasn't boiling hot, then chalked it up to experience.

That actually reinforces my point about negative reinforcement not working, because it hasn't stopped him showing a great deal of interest in every cup/drink he sees and he screamed the place down when he did it - so it was obviously a big shock.

OP, I know you said she ignores treats you leave, but have you considered leaving some sort of treat dispensing toy - treat ball or kong perhaps, stuffed with something absolutely irresistible. My dogs aren't bothered with their normal chews or treats when I'm out, but neither can resist a kong stuffed with fresh chicken and Fish4Dogs Salmon Mousse, for example. If she's busy working on unstuffing a Kong, or chasing a treat ball round the room, she won't have time to go looking for human food. Things like sardines, fresh cooked meat, pate etc - the stinkier and squishier the better are best for holding their attention.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 25-Sep-13 18:07:43

Prevention. Get a dachshund in the first place wink.

MmeLindor Wed 25-Sep-13 18:12:08

I was going to say 'get a smaller dog' but you beat me to it.

I don't have this issue cause our dog can't even reach the coffee table.

Lilcamper Wed 25-Sep-13 18:14:59

Using cans like that could just mean a dog that is scared pooless when you are sorting the recycling out. sad

JulietBravoJuliet Wed 25-Sep-13 19:54:22

I wouldn't do anything that could scare her; she's jumpy at the best of times and having her pull a load of cans on her head would create a whole other problem!

EasyToEatTiger Wed 25-Sep-13 20:59:26

We have the same problem, 14 years on. Put food away or it will be eaten. Recently one of the dogs ate a lot of dough. Luckily it hadn't risen and they didn't get drunk (which has happened before). It did make a very upset tummy though. Use a combination lock on your bin. Or keep the dogs out of the kitchen.....

ErrolTheDragon Wed 25-Sep-13 21:06:01

Could be worse... my dog chews my clothes if I leave any where he can get them when I'm out. Specifically, zips on things like fleeces (has ruined a few) and buttons on trousers- fortunately jeans metal buttons just get a bit deformed but I've lost count of the number of times I've had to replace the ones on other trousers. The only solution is keeping them out of his way but its hard to do it 100% of the time.

Scuttlebutter Wed 25-Sep-13 23:04:59

We have four greyhounds - all are skilled and expert countersurfers. They are fast, flexible and can reach to places you wouldn't believe. We have simply got ourselves trained not to leave appetising items where they can be reached. Very occasionally, one of us will forget - if that happens we accept it's our fault for putting temptation in their way. It really is a habit though - keep persevering, it's worth it. The other benefit is that our kitchen generally looks very tidy!

And one of ours adores mustard (and chillies, and curry) so that wouldn't be a deterrent at all.

Steamedcabbage Thu 26-Sep-13 08:10:44

Agree negative training methods are never the best, partic if dog in question already jumpy (as in nervous jumpy)

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