Counter surfing is when a dog or cat jumps onto countertops or tables in search of food or other interesting items. It's a common problem but can be potentially dangerous if your pet comes into contact with harmful substances or sharp objects. Here are some suggestions to curb this behavior:
1. Management and Prevention:
Clear the Counters: Keep food and other tempting items off the counters when not in use.
Use barriers: Baby gates, pet gates, or even pens can be used to block off the kitchen or other areas with counters.
Provide Alternatives: Give your pet their own space with toys and treats. Make sure they have plenty of engaging activities to keep them occupied.
Teach "Off" command: Use treats to reward your pet when they get off the counter on command.
Reward Four on the Floor: Encourage and reward your dog or cat when they have all four feet on the ground, especially when they show interest in the counter but resist jumping up.
Teach "Leave it" command: This can prevent them from grabbing things they shouldn't have.
3. Deterring Techniques:
Double-sided Tape: Many cats dislike the feel of sticky surfaces. Place double-sided tape on the edge of the counter.
Aluminum Foil: Spread sheets of aluminum foil on the counters. The feel and sound of it is often enough to deter pets.
Commercial Pet Deterrent Mats: These mats provide a small static pulse when touched, deterring pets from hopping onto the counters.
Scat Mats or Motion-activated Pet Deterrents: These are mats or devices that emit a small shock or puff of air when the pet jumps up.
Citrus Scents: Some cats and dogs don’t like the smell of citrus. Place lemon or orange peels on the counter or use citrus-based cleaners.
4. Increase Physical and Mental Stimulation:
Exercise: Ensure your dog gets plenty of physical exercise through walks, playtime, etc. A tired dog is less likely to get into mischief.
Interactive Toys: Toys that dispense treats or toys that challenge them mentally can help divert their attention from counter surfing.
Training Sessions: Regular training not only enforces commands but also provides mental stimulation.
5. Consider Their Diet:
Regular Feeding Times: Ensure your pet is fed regularly and is getting enough food.
High-quality Diet: A nutritionally complete diet can help in reducing their urge to search for food on the counter.
6. Monitor and Redirect:
If you catch your pet in the act, avoid yelling or punishing. Instead, redirect them to another behavior or area. Over time, with consistency, they'll associate the counter with being off-limits.
Make sure there are no potential toxins or dangerous items within reach on counters. Examples include chocolate, grapes, onions, certain artificial sweeteners (like xylitol), and more for dogs, and items like lilies or essential oils for cats.
UnRuffled Pets® Pheromone products can be a great addition to the strategy of curbing counter surfing, especially for their calming and behavior-modifying properties. Here's how you can incorporate the use of pheromones into the above recommendations.
1. Pheromone Diffusers:
Placement: Install pheromone diffusers in rooms where counter surfing is a frequent problem. The diffuser releases a synthetic version of the calming pheromones into the room, creating a more peaceful environment.
Coverage: Ensure that the diffuser covers the area size as per the manufacturer's guidelines.
2. Pheromone Sprays:
Spot Treatment: If there's a particular counter or area your pet frequents, you can spray a synthetic pheromone solution there. The calming effect can make the area less appealing.
Quick Application: Pheromone sprays can also be used on bedding or in crates to create a more relaxed space for your pet.
3. Pheromone Collars:
These are worn by the pet and release calming pheromones continuously. This can be especially helpful if counter-surfing is driven by anxiety or stress.
4. Combine Pheromones with Training:
Positive Reinforcement: While the calming effect of the pheromones is at work, train your pet by rewarding them for desired behaviors. For instance, if your pet approaches the counter but then decides against jumping because of the calming effect of the pheromones, reward that decision.
Association: Over time, the combined effects of training and pheromones will create a stronger association in the pet's mind between staying off the counters and receiving rewards.
5. Monitor the Effects:
Not all animals will have the same response to pheromones. It's essential to observe your pet and see how effective the pheromones are in reducing their counter-surfing behavior.
6. Duration and Consistency:
Pheromone products typically need to be replenished. Ensure that diffusers are refilled, sprays are re-applied, and collars are replaced as per the manufacturer's recommendations to maintain their efficacy.
Consistency is crucial. Everyone in the household should be on the same page when it comes to enforcing rules about the countertops. With time, patience, and consistency, you can train your pets to stay off the counters.