Counter/table theivery - advice? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 11:47 AM Thread Starter
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Counter/table theivery - advice?

12 week old Giada continues to come out of her shell. She is growing like a weed and is getting tall enough to reach the counter and start to try to pull things down off of it. I'm looking for advice about your favorite ways to train your GSD not to do this kind of thing, hopefully in a positive way. I have to admit it's totally infuriating when she does it. She also likes to jump and put her front paws on the sides of her ex-pen and try to push it around. She really only does that when she knows we're preparing her food. Usually I let her out so she can watch me prepare her food (and she will occasionally jump up onto a counter then as well) but sometimes the timing just works out that she's in the pen and it drives me crazy. Before I feed her she automatically sits and looks at me and waits patiently but when she knows we're preparing it she can't contain herself.

so, is this just a 12 week old puppy thing and should I be patient for a few more weeks? Or can I start training out of this behavior now?

Oz
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 11:59 AM
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I wouldn't let her out of the xpen at that time. They're pretty quick to figure out what gets them what they want like that. I teach leave it as soon as they're on a leash. I walk them past something that will interest them and tell them leave it, followed by a pop with the leash. If you want to try something rewarding, try a place command while you're at the counter. Teach her to lay down in the xpen and intermittently reward her for doing it while you do something at the counter.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 12:19 PM
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sorry....I feel your pain. I just keep putting her back on the floor and telling her Off. She knows to go to a board and stay there so I think that will be my next step for dinner time.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 12:47 PM
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Make sure there is nothing for her to access on the counter. Intermittent self rewarding is very powerful. If she has occasional success when she checks out the counter tops that will be enough reinforcement for her to continue to counter surf. Keeping food off the counters is very important.If you are in the habit of leaving food items out, you will need to make an effort to put food items away and keep your counters barren of anything edible.



If her jumping on the ex-pen bothers you so much, then either place it in a room here she can not watch you prepare her food or crate her. Also do not allow free access to the kitchen so she can rehearse counter surfing when you are not present to interrupt the behavior. I like to place rewards, like a stuffed kong or chew on the floor along or under the counter edge so when a puppy enters the kitchen their nose goes down not up and that behavior is rewarded.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 12:57 PM
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All but one of mine stopped exploring the counter after I sprinkled cayenne on the counter.


The one dog who wasn't bothered by cayenne is Cajun to his core -- he pretty much laughed and rolled with it....and probably wondered why we didn't leave him a cold beer and some crawfish to go along with the the delicious flavor.


FWIW, this old, rescued "Cajun Shepherd" was undeterrable with the counters until we baby-gated off the kitchen door. Eventually, his hips got bad, and then he mostly stopped trying to counter surf...though he still has good days on Adequan and acupuncture and gives it a go. He's at least 12 and totally blind, but he stole a bag of dried tripe strips the other day and was VERY proud of himself. At his age, all I can do is laugh -- he is who he is. He's simply a pirate. We have found that a Buster Cube toy lessens his urge to steal stuff (he seem to feels like he's getting into something when he's working food out of it, so it seems to lessen is urge for mischief).
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Last edited by Magwart; 12-23-2018 at 01:11 PM.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 02:26 PM
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When Keef was a pup he had pretty bad manners around food. If I was cooking I'd just put him away in his crate, while working on "off" at other times. Once he was a little older I started leaving him out when I was in the kitchen and if he put his paws on the counter I told him "off" and bumped him off with a hip check. He learned not to do it after a little while.

Halo was really bad about stealing food off the counter too and the only way to deal with it was to never leave anything out that she could get to, and never leave her unsupervised when she was young. She eventually learned too, but remained an opportunist for the rest of her life. She would never do anything blatantly right in front of us, but we made sure not to leave food on the counter if we even had to walk out of the room for a moment. I have an infamous photo of her with one of my kitchen knives in her mouth - I had put the food away but left out the knife, which she helped herself to, lol. She also liked to chew potholders and placemats. She never outgrew that.

Rather than keeping her in the x-pen and having her go nuts while you make her meals, I might try a different approach. Since she'll already sit and wait for you to put the bowl down, why not try training that during meal prep time too? I've never shut mine away while I make their food, I expect them to behave and exhibit some impulse control and if they don't, things do not progress until they do!

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Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozymandiasmv View Post
so, is this just a 12 week old puppy thing and should I be patient for a few more weeks? Or can I start training out of this behavior now?
If my 5-month old puppy, Cassie, is an example, it's going to last a lot longer than a couple of weeks. You could possibly have a situation like Magwart's and never totally get rid of the behavior. My 11-1/2 GSD that passed this August, never quit grabbing Arrowhead water bottles. I had to always make sure to put the lid back on a plastic bottle, if I left it anywhere unattended for even a minute. Had to replace the keyboard on a laptop once, due to a minor water spill, caused by my dog's actions.

My puppy started jumping up to reach the kitchen counter around your dog's age (front room tables earlier). It's not always the yummy food that she goes after. She got a zucchini squash off a kitchen counter last week - it became a toy until I got it away from her. She is fascinated with cans of all sizes (full and empty). I've had to throw unopened aluminum cans of cat food, because her baby teeth made punctures in them. Not sure why she grabbed an unopened large tin can of green beans (she pulled the label off of that one, LOL)

I've constantly used the command "No, Off", but she ignores it. My challenge has been that she can change from calm and sweet to rowdy and destructive in a hot minute. It's like someone threw a switch. I generally give her some crate time, when she is rowdy, but sometimes I'm caught off guard as I turn my back for a minute and a rowdy period begins.

Although I have consistently used the "No, Off" and/or "Leave it" commands, she doesn't comply in such a way as to receive any positive reinforcement. Sometimes, I've been successful in getting her in a "sit" or "down" position (and reward that), but she has generally resumed the jumping onto the kitchen counter.

Just thinking that perhaps I need to do some planned training with "off" "leave it" commands. Although I try to consistently leave a 12-inch leash handle on her, I'm probably better off to keep a full leash on her for better corrections with counter jumping. Also, probably best to wear something with a pocket or a fanny pack with treats (have a treat ready, if I can get a result that can be reinforced). Right now, it appear as if my presence in the kitchen is not necessarily a deterrent. Cassie can be stubborn. I'm going to do my best with positive reinforcement and some pops with a regular leash for a couple of weeks. If I don't make progress, I'm thinking I need to try a few corrections with the prong collar we received when we started obedience class.

I have a baby gate at the entrance to the kitchen. Although she conquered it early on, to escape being confined to the kitchen, I do use it periodically to keep her out of the kitchen for short periods of time, when I think a crate confinement isn't necessary. I feed her in the kitchen. Sometimes I get away with turning my back on her for a few minutes, other times she eats her food quickly and starts grabbing things from the kitchen counter, while I do something like make a quick bathroom run.

I'm learning that even though little miss Cassie seems to be behaving, the "rowdy switch" can turn on in a hot minute and trouble ensues. This weekend she knocked an empty soup can and started parading around with it (hadn't cleaned it yet for recycling). Then, I had a boxed unopened case of 48 cans of cat food (each can the size of a tuna can). She tore open the case and was scooting it across the floor. I got it away from her, as she tried to escape with a can in her mouth. She will grab knives and silverware off the counter as well. Seeing that she has grabbed a spoon or fork is more annoying than anything, but a knife is rather alarming. More often than not, she knocks the knife or silverware onto the ground and then leaves it. Yesterday, she was running around with a spoon in her mouth, and then a fork.

I'm far from perfect. I know that the more I keep Cassie in a crate, on a leash, or otherwise confined in some way and under my thumb (after ample exercise and play), the better the results. In my case, I need to do better with keeping my guard up, not thinking that a few days of "no thievery" means I've conquered the problem and do some planned anti-thievery training (time allotted, something yummy on the counter and reward and consequence strategy planned and ready for quick use.)

Hope you are able to tame this behavior with your puppy. From what I've read, others have given you some good advice.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-27-2018, 10:42 AM
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Ours was bad with counter surfing and normal corrections didn't work. Told him "no" and/or gave him a leash correction before pulling him off. This had about ZERO effect.

Recently we began training with an e-collar to help with a handful of issues and it's done wonders for counter surfing. It's simple - as soon as he puts those two front paws on the counter, he gets a small zap + "no". He responded really well and after a 2-3 times he got the idea and the counter surfing quickly stopped. Some are against e-collars but you just have to be smart and learn to use them correctly.

I would also reiterate what Steve Strom said if I understood him wrt a "place" command. When we're in the kitchin doing something thatwe don't want him in our business (cooking, doing dishes, eating dinner) and getting into whatever we have on the counter/table, we make him stay in his "place" (a small bed) on the other end of the kitchin. So not an all around fix for counter surfing, but it's at least effective when you're doing stuff in the kitchin with a lot of enticing targets on the counter. If your pup is decent at downstays this works pretty well and will have the added the benefit of helping with this basic skill also.
post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-27-2018, 02:23 PM
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Not exactly positive approaches, but these can be pretty effective and are not harsh. You can put several, small, spring loaded mouse traps on the counters that will go off if she hits them with her paws. You can also place duct tape in large inside out loops on the counter so that if she puts her paws on the counter, the tape will stick to her paws and dogs usually don't like this experience or the pulling off of the duct tape. Observation with her on a light line you can easily reach is more direct, with you giving her an assertive pop on the line paired with "no" and a consistent command like "off" followed by praise.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-27-2018, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NaughtyNibbler View Post
Just thinking that perhaps I need to do some planned training with "off" "leave it" commands. Although I try to consistently leave a 12-inch leash handle on her, I'm probably better off to keep a full leash on her for better corrections with counter jumping. Also, probably best to wear something with a pocket or a fanny pack with treats (have a treat ready, if I can get a result that can be reinforced).
I agree. At this point she probably doesn't really know what those commands mean and it would be easier and more productive to train them separately, before expecting compliance when you're busy in the kitchen and can't supervise as diligently as you would otherwise be able to do. If you do some mat training with her, reinforcing her for remaining on it in a variety of different places in your house, then you can start using the mat as a chill spot when you're busy.

Quote:
I know that the more I keep Cassie in a crate, on a leash, or otherwise confined in some way and under my thumb (after ample exercise and play), the better the results. In my case, I need to do better with keeping my guard up, not thinking that a few days of "no thievery" means I've conquered the problem and do some planned anti-thievery training (time allotted, something yummy on the counter and reward and consequence strategy planned and ready for quick use.)
This too - management will be your friend while you work on the training aspect. The more you can prevent the behavior from occurring, the better, because the more she's allowed to practice it, the more firmly engrained it can become and the harder to extinguish. It may take a little time, so be patient.

-Debbie-
Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
Cassidy 6/8/00-10/4/04
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