Poodle Forum banner
1 - 20 of 27 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
112 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, So my Poodle is just about 4 months old is constantly stealing food from our counters and table. We have gotten much better about keeping in his cage unless we are directly watching or interacting with him. The issue is I have a 3 and 4-year old and sometimes we are all hanging out together (for example outside by the pool or on our front porch) and if they have something in their hand he will steal the entire thing from them (a whole slice of pizza).

Last week I was prepping dinner and he was with me in the kitchen and he jumped up and took a whole piece of raw chicken and swallowed it! Needless to say, after that I no longer let him hang out with me while I'm cooking (I had him on a leash btw).

So we just got all of his vaccinations and are looking to get him some training classes that we can all attend.

My question is this, my husband has had several dogs in his lifetime and says that he never, ever saw a dog steal food right out of the owners hand or right in front of the owner. He says his dogs have taken food when he is not looking but not right in front of his face. Also when we try to get him to give up the food he steals, he fights us for it and to be honest, it is a little scary.

We are still working on "drop it" and since he has been vaccinated we have been able to get him a lot more exercise. He is mostly in his cage and pen but sometimes I let him out to be with the family only in the living room or I keep him on a leash with me.

Any suggestions or input?

Thanks!

Oh, also is there a resource to look for training classes that anyone can recommend?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
25,459 Posts
This can be a very intractable problem once started because it provides strong rewards on its own. Lily is an unrepentant counter surfer because she ate too many wonderful things when we weren't watching. I have long since stopped trying to prevent her from taking things (like a chicken bone BF dropped on the floor the other day). With Javelin I wanted to prevent him from ever getting to think it was okay for him to take stuff so I set himself up one night and left a tempting tidbit on the counter across the kitchen island. I sat on the other side with a small soda bottle with pennies in it. When I saw his snoot come up I threw the noisy bottle at his head and made a very strong impression on him, probably the only time I have ever needed a P+ with him and I made sure my throw was both well timed and well aimed. He learned in one shot and has never looked on the counter again.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Spottytoes and Liz

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,573 Posts
I will say my sil had an awful little dachshund who would snatch food right out of anybody’s hand. He was allowed to be a little jerk tyrant all the way around though. I get where your husband is coming from, but he does realize your dog is a puppy, right? Yes, it needs correcting, but it is not an unusual puppy crime. My kids eat at the table 99% of the time (and puppy is in her pen then.) On the rare occasion they have food outside (typically a popsicle or something while swimming), she is put away or on a leash with me. Kids are so easy to snatch from.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Apricot mini momma

·
Administrator
Joined
·
14,171 Posts
@jessiemarielo, here’s a good resource for finding a trainer:


At the bottom of the page, you’ll find a link to their trainer and behaviour consultant directory.

Since it sounds like you’ve entered into resource guarding territory (I assume that’s what you mean when you say he “fights” you for stolen food) I would treat this as an emergency. Resource guarding + harsh training methods are a bad, bad combo. You could turn your pup from a petty thief into a very aggressive boy, and we don’t want that. Your husband just needs to accept that he’s got a poodle now and probably a very clever one. What did he think of the Ian Dunbar book?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,052 Posts
I am concerned by your husband's judgmental attitude towards your puppy. Dogs are individuals. It doesn't matter what all his other dogs were like. The dog you have now is the dog you have. Poodles, in general, respond best when you turn things into a game for them.

As lily cd re said, counter surfing is nearly impossible to cure once it starts. It's doggie casino. The payouts occur just often enough that the dog is willing to take the chance of getting nothing or even getting punished, just as we humans are willing to keep feeding coins into a slot machine even when we know we will lose most times. Really the only way to stop the behavior for good is to make sure there is never, ever, anything the dog wants within snatching distance.

You might be able to reduce these incidents by teaching the dog to go lie on a mat while you are prepping dinner or entertaining guests. (This is a skill commonly taught in beginning manners classes.) A dog can't snatch pizza off the counter if the dog is lying on a mat six feet away from the counter. Having a dog which will quietly lie in one place is good for other situations, too. It's handy when the dog is willing to just lie down and chill while you are running errands. Galen decided one day that the Covid social distancing advisory on the bank floor was the perfect place to wait.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,645 Posts
I agree with the other posters suggesting finding a good trainer. Resource guarding in a young puppy in a household with kids is a situation you need to start working on quickly.

Like Catherine, I used an aversive with Annie to prevent counter surfing - mine was a spray bottle- and I set my dog up so I could use it 2-3 times over the course of a week or two when she hadn't a clue I was watching or the spray came from me.

One danger with an aversive is the dog connecting it with you, and just learning that the rules are 'no counter surfing with people watching'. But, I used the aversive before countersurfing had started. If my dog had gotten into food first? Good luck. And I still manage my counters/food, blocking off kitchen access or clearing counters when I am away - the jackpot is just too valuable for me to risk her getting a chance at it while I am gone, no matter how perfect I think she is. If I had tried the aversive after she had successfully stolen meat from the counter it wouldn't have worked. Even if she had gotten the meat while I used the aversive it wouldn't have worked. Timing is tricky.

From the dogs perspective, when training, humans often give what we think of as high value and jackpot rewards. Say, a piece of steak. From the dogs perspective, countersurfing is a jackpot reward behaviour. Not just a piece of steak, but a whole steak.

I suspect management (dog in crate during meals/snacks) is going to be a big part of dealing with this, as is place training. My dog lies in a particular corner of the kitchen where she knows I will throw food for her. If she is at my feet, she gets nothing except maybe to be told to leave. Hard to countersurf from 6' away, lying down.

Oh - and I have 100% seen dogs steal from your hand or a plate in front of you. Especially when kids are involved. Normal dog behaviour, just not desirable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
112 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This can be a very intractable problem once started because it provides strong rewards on its own. Lily is an unrepentant counter surfer because she ate too many wonderful things when we weren't watching. I have long since stopped trying to prevent her from taking things (like a chicken bone BF dropped on the floor the other day). With Javelin I wanted to prevent him from ever getting to think it was okay for him to take stuff so I set himself up one night and left a tempting tidbit on the counter across the kitchen island. I sat on the other side with a small soda bottle with pennies in it. When I saw his snoot come up I threw the noisy bottle at his head and made a very strong impression on him, probably the only time I have ever needed a P+ with him and I made sure my throw was both well timed and well aimed. He learned in one shot and has never looked on the counter again.
Awesome idea! My dog is obsessed with our counter and trash can! I'm going to give this ir the spray bottle method a go!?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
112 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I will say my sil had an awful little dachshund who would snatch food right out of anybody’s hand. He was allowed to be a little jerk tyrant all the way around though. I get where your husband is coming from, but he does realize your dog is a puppy, right? Yes, it needs correcting, but it is not an unusual puppy crime. My kids eat at the table 99% of the time (and puppy is in her pen then.) On the rare occasion they have food outside (typically a popsicle or something while swimming), she is put away or on a leash with me. Kids are so easy to snatch from.
Yes, I keep reminding him of that. Although he has had puppies I think he either doesn't remember and I know his family kept their dogs outside all day and only inside to sleep at night. Completely different than our current raising of my beloved spoo Canyon.
The good news Is that we've gotten way better at keeping him in his crate. We don't eat at all unless he is in there and I give him a kong stuffed with kibble while we sit at the table and eat.
But...with that said of my kiddos are snacking on an apple or something and he is hanging out with us he steals it from them.
My 3-year-old will feed him apple or banana by asking him to sit first then she breaks a little piece off and feeds it to him. I think it's the most adorable thing ever.
I am concerned by your husband's judgmental attitude towards your puppy. Dogs are individuals. It doesn't matter what all his other dogs were like. The dog you have now is the dog you have. Poodles, in general, respond best when you turn things into a game for them.

As lily cd re said, counter surfing is nearly impossible to cure once it starts. It's doggie casino. The payouts occur just often enough that the dog is willing to take the chance of getting nothing or even getting punished, just as we humans are willing to keep feeding coins into a slot machine even when we know we will lose most times. Really the only way to stop the behavior for good is to make sure there is never, ever, anything the dog wants within snatching distance.

You might be able to reduce these incidents by teaching the dog to go lie on a mat while you are prepping dinner or entertaining guests. (This is a skill commonly taught in beginning manners classes.) A dog can't snatch pizza off the counter if the dog is lying on a mat six feet away from the counter. Having a dog which will quietly lie in one place is good for other situations, too. It's handy when the dog is willing to just lie down and chill while you are running errands. Galen decided one day that the Covid social distancing advisory on the bank floor was the perfect place to wait.
I love this! Thanks 😊
I agree with the other posters suggesting finding a good trainer. Resource guarding in a young puppy in a household with kids is a situation you need to start working on quickly.

Like Catherine, I used an aversive with Annie to prevent counter surfing - mine was a spray bottle- and I set my dog up so I could use it 2-3 times over the course of a week or two when she hadn't a clue I was watching or the spray came from me.

One danger with an aversive is the dog connecting it with you, and just learning that the rules are 'no counter surfing with people watching'. But, I used the aversive before countersurfing had started. If my dog had gotten into food first? Good luck. And I still manage my counters/food, blocking off kitchen access or clearing counters when I am away - the jackpot is just too valuable for me to risk her getting a chance at it while I am gone, no matter how perfect I think she is. If I had tried the aversive after she had successfully stolen meat from the counter it wouldn't have worked. Even if she had gotten the meat while I used the aversive it wouldn't have worked. Timing is tricky.

From the dogs perspective, when training, humans often give what we think of as high value and jackpot rewards. Say, a piece of steak. From the dogs perspective, countersurfing is a jackpot reward behaviour. Not just a piece of steak, but a whole steak.

I suspect management (dog in crate during meals/snacks) is going to be a big part of dealing with this, as is place training. My dog lies in a particular corner of the kitchen where she knows I will throw food for her. If she is at my feet, she gets nothing except maybe to be told to leave. Hard to countersurf from 6' away, lying down.

Oh - and I have 100% seen dogs steal from your hand or a plate in front of you. Especially when kids are involved. Normal dog behaviour, just not desirable.
Thank you for the response. I am going to set up my spray bottle tonight. The other day he was staring at me but looked like he was waiting for me to go out of sight so he could steal. Not funny but I couldn't help but laugh because he thought he was fooling me!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
25,459 Posts
Awesome idea! My dog is obsessed with our counter and trash can! I'm going to give this ir the spray bottle method a go!?
The spray bottle was a total epic fail for Lily who thought it was funny and would try to drink the water! I never even tried it with Javelin since it hadn't worked for Lily. What worked for him was a very clearly planned and carefully timed set up for a P+ with a shaker bottle with pennies. I used an empty 20 oz. soda bottle. P+ are better if you can distinctly surprise the dog and leave them wondering how the heck that event happened.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 94Magna_Tom

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,573 Posts
I agree the kids sharing their food is cute… see below. But it has to be carefully managed. Otherwise your cute little puppy will realize (and yours already has!) that he can just take whatever he wants from your cute little kid. When my not-quite-5-month-old spoo bit me (for real, out of pain reaction) my hand was bruised for weeks, literally. She was missing so many teeth and bit me though my sweatshirt cuff or it might have been much worse. I thought on day 2 she might have broken a bone in my hand, it was that bad. Saying he fights you for food and that your kids share their food in the same post is pretty concerning. It’s easy to forget these adorable fluffs really are animals and will do animal things sometimes.
This sharing example was carefully managed. The kids were eating popsicles and she was on a leash with me, out of range. When they were done, one asked me if she could taste it, I said yes, and she had a couple licks, still on a leash and under my control.
478901
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,701 Posts
The only real solution to a determined counter surfer is to not leave food on the counters. That said, we once had a whippet who jumped up onto the counter in order to reach the bag of potato chips stored on top of the refrigerator! We were leaving on an errand and I went back into the house to get a forgotten item and caught her in the act. I'll never forget the look on her face - it clear said "busted"!.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
112 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I agree the kids sharing their food is cute… see below. But it has to be carefully managed. Otherwise your cute little puppy will realize (and yours already has!) that he can just take whatever he wants from your cute little kid. When my not-quite-5-month-old spoo bit me (for real, out of pain reaction) my hand was bruised for weeks, literally. She was missing so many teeth and bit me though my sweatshirt cuff or it might have been much worse. I thought on day 2 she might have broken a bone in my hand, it was that bad. Saying he fights you for food and that your kids share their food in the same post is pretty concerning. It’s easy to forget these adorable fluffs really are animals and will do animal things sometimes.
This sharing example was carefully managed. The kids were eating popsicles and she was on a leash with me, out of range. When they were done, one asked me if she could taste it, I said yes, and she had a couple licks, still on a leash and under my control.
View attachment 478901
Wow, that is a scary thought. Well, I have taught my daughter's (one particularly) that she needs to ask him to sit, they she commands him to go down then she can hand feed him a tiny piece of food. If the dog doesn't follow her commands, he cannot have the treat/food.

However, that doesn't mean he won't just take it at any time and you are right about him being an animal.

The times he has stolen food from them is usually my other daughter that doesn't make him sit, lay, etc. I feel like he has less respect per say for her. He follows her around often and tries to gnaw on her clothing but as soon as I get close he stops and he never does that to the other daughter. I contacted two trainers today so hopefully I learn some additional methods of keeping this under control.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
112 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The only real solution to a determined counter surfer is to not leave food on the counters. That said, we once had a whippet who jumped up onto the counter in order to reach the bag of potato chips stored on top of the refrigerator! We were leaving on an errand and I went back into the house to get a forgotten item and caught her in the act. I'll never forget the look on her face - it clear said "busted"!.
Yeah, its a process and we are learning little by little. We've gotten so accustomed to our living and now we have to learn a new way of living....which in actuality is better because it keeps the kitchen cleaner (win-win) in my opinion.

Recently, I heard a chip bag noise and I thought my son was munching on chips in the kitchen then about 30-seconds later, out comes my dog Canyon with his whole face in the bag of chips and he was running (blindly-because his face was in the bag of chips). I thought it was the funniest thing.

Now however, he knows the kitchen is the "hot spot" for coming up on food. We have a pocket door which I just keep shut at all times now. Even if he is in his cage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
354 Posts
Dublin doesn't just take food off of the counter. Piece of mail? He'll take it. Measuring cup? He'll take it. Packet of information on the latest upcoming training class? He'll take that too. And i can't just push things to the back - the long legged fluff ball can reach all the way to the back no problem. He hooks his elbows on the edge and stretches one foot out to poke whatever he's trying to get.

As i'm typing, i can hear him trying to grab something.

I've tried to stop/discourage him. It'll work for a bit, then i let my guard down and he's back at it. My boss at work suggested putting double sided sticky tape on the counter. "He won't like the stickiness on his paws". It worked, until he figured out that he could rest his toes below the sticky tape and reach his nose over it to get whatever he wanted.

Oh well. If i have to, i can block him out of the kitchen. He's not allowed in there while i cook, else he'd be right up my butt, and i just try to keep the counters tidy so he doesn't get the chance to grab anything.
 

·
Premium Member
Elroy: Standard Poodle, Born 02/20/21
Joined
·
3,877 Posts
Recently, I heard a chip bag noise and I thought my son was munching on chips in the kitchen then about 30-seconds later, out comes my dog Canyon with his whole face in the bag of chips and he was running (blindly-because his face was in the bag of chips). I thought it was the funniest thing.
My Puppy K. instructor just conveyed a story about a dog suffocating to death due to a potato chip bag. It's funny if everything turns out well. Be aware of unusual dangers. For example, I never leave knives on the counters, all dishes get put into the sink (or dishwasher if you have one), or washed right away. Basically have to puppy proof the counters all the time.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
14,171 Posts
Peggy’s not a counter surfer (so far, at least!) but she has a sneaky dish towel habit. So we no longer hang dish towels on the oven door handle because it’s just not worth the bother.

Ian Dunbar’s tissue anecdote really stuck with me and has shaped the way I deal with most petty poodle theft:

Years ago, I consulted on a case of a one-year-old dog that stole used Kleenex tissues and irritated her owner by playing Catch-Me-if-You-Can. The dog ran under a bed, the owner poked her with a broomstick, and the dog bit her on the wrist. I have since dealt with many similar cases. For paper-tissue theft to escalate to the point of both owner and dog physically abusing each other is extremely silly. It is essential that you teach your young puppy to exchange rolled newspaper, toilet rolls, or individual paper tissues for food treats so that she does not becomes possessive and protective of paper products. On the other hand, if the dog finds paper tissues intriguing, use them as lures and rewards in training, or give the dog one a day as a toy. And if you don't want your dog to steal paper tissues, flush them down the toilet.



Basically have to puppy proof the counters all the time.
Yep. It’s very much like having a toddler. Puppy proofing isn’t just for your own sanity. It’s for your puppy’s safety while they learn to navigate the human world.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
242 Posts
Whiskey learned very quickly as a puppy that tables and bins have yummy and fun stuff. Our food, if on the table, gets covered with a basket to prevent him from rehearsing the counter surfing. With the bin and his treasures, we play a game of give-human-for-yummies (a special treat only for these occasions).

Now he successfully countersurfs about once every 2 weekcompared to every meal. Treasures are exchanged on a 80% success rate. Of which 50% is him bringing the trash to us with no command. 20% of unsuccessful commands are followed up with a “give it” and usually involve his favorite toys, empty containers, or food remnants. Which he resource guards so we’re still working on that too.

He also jumps up at my dad for food, something my dad set himself up for and I’m not going to untrain it because it only happens to him. It’s been a problem in our family’s 18 years of dog ownership, except previously we only had small dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
354 Posts
He also jumps up at my dad for food, something my dad set himself up for and I’m not going to untrain it because it only happens to him. It’s been a problem in our family’s 18 years of dog ownership, except previously we only had small dogs.
It's always the dads that cause trouble!

Funny story. When Kiley was a puppy she had trouble sitting on shiny floors. Every time she sat, she would start to slide into a down. My dad never went to classes with us and had terrible treat timing. He would call her into the kitchen, or get her attention when she was nosing around, and would tell her to sit without making sure she was on the rug. He would give her the treat as her elbows hit the floor, instead of as soon as her butt did.

Long story short, for most of her life she thought "sit" meant "lay down".

She was never counter surfing size, though she had no problem stealing anything off the coffee table or end tables. She ate half a $20 bill once. Half a cookie, and a sip of milk, another time. Slice of pizza. Paper products. At one point, when Dublin was about a year old, he somehow got a hold of my whole wallet and she wound up with a single bill. NO idea how she got a single bill out and then left the wallet for Dublin, but it made me laugh so hard.

She was not good at giving anything back, though, to the point we just let her eat it if it wasn't something dangerous. She would, and did, bite us if we tried to retrieve something in her mouth and wouldn't "trade" for anything. God, i miss her.....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,585 Posts
Bobby is a very dedicated counter surfer.
I was so focused on other training goals and frankly overwhelmed, I was not preemptive regarding counter surfing like I should have been. Oh, we definitely taught him”off” and “No” but unfortunately his early successes set him up to be the master thief that he is. It’s a fun game for him. He’s smart and he’s fast. Anyway, we manage it and are very good about dog proofing.When Bobby does manage to steal a treasure we either distract or trade. It’s not helpful nor worth it to create a battle. We will definitely be more proactive with our next dog before any counter surfing shenanigans begin.😉
 
1 - 20 of 27 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top