By Sally Bradbury
Keep surfaces clear of food or the dog out of the kitchen to prevent the dog from learning to counter surf. Don’t forget that any behaviour that is rewarded is likely to be repeated.
For the dog that has already learned to counter surf, teach a different behaviour.
Take a chopping board, a knife, a tin of hot dog sausages and a Tupperware container. Open the tin, tip the brine down the sink and rinse the sausages. Take out a sausage spend some time carefully cutting it into small pieces.
What is your dog doing at this point? If he has feet on the worktop then just turn sideways and block his view of the chopping board. If he has all four feet on the floor toss him a bit of sausage. If he is barking, whinging, whining then ignore and continue to chop up sausage. If he stops, chuck him a bit of sausage.
Give him maybe half a dozen rewards for four feet of the floor and quiet. Note: You are not asking him to do anything and neither are you asking him to stop doing anything. All you need say to him is a quiet “good boy” when you reward him.
Now hold off on the next reward and see if he offers anything even better. It could be to move away from the worktop. He might offer a sit or a down if either of those has a history of reward. Basically, reward the behaviour that you like. The more repetitions you do the more he is learning what pays off. So, when you are preparing food those are the behaviours that he will offer. You will need to reinforce them still occasionally once learnt.