Dogs love food and are curious. Regardless of the size of your dog, he can still reach the counter for food if left unattended and prevented.
Prevent your dog from stealing food right from the beginning. Never keep leftover foods out and put any food left on counters in secure containers. Breads should go in a bread bin and cookies in a secure container or jar. Fruits may be less delicious for your dog to want, but keeping them out of reach or in the fridge will help prevent from further adventures. Trash cans with secure lids are great ways to keep your dog from having the option of getting into it. If available, cupboards are great places for the trash can. If your dog has learned all the ways of opening cabinet doors, start thinking about child-proofing your kitchen! Child-proof latches are easy and affordable ways to ensure that the dog can’t open cabinets. Baby gates or dog gates can help keep your dog out of areas when you’re not able to supervise.
Dogs that are feeling hungry might be more prone to counter surfing and garbage raiding. Make sure your dog is getting the appropriate amount of food needed. Meals broken into two can help keep your dog feel full. Speak with your veterinarian if you need help with measuring his correct food or if your dog is on a diet.
Exercise is key for just about everything in your dog’s life. Make sure you are providing plenty of mental and physical exercise for your dog. Dogs can get into trouble simply because they are bored. You can also offer Kong toys that will help keep your dog focused on the right kind of food while getting mental stimulation!
Teach your dog that getting on counters or in trash is not acceptable. When you see your dog do this, clap your hands loudly and say “Off” firmly. Then, remove your dog from the area to show him that this is not acceptable in this area.
If your dog does this when no one is home or watching, crate your dog when he is not supervised or create a barrier (baby gate or close doors) so he cannot have access to the food area.
Do not punish your dog if he has stolen food. After all, the food is already gone and he has gotten what he wanted. Gently set your dog off the counter or say “off” and wait until he jumps down. Reward and be patient with your dog.
Please speak with a behaviorist if your dog is fearful or skittish.