Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Counter Surfing Dog

Today I did some serious countersurfing. I managed to grab a banana (delicious!) and even better, an entire box of dog biscuits! Mom opened the dog biscuits to get me to drop the banana peel, and then when she wasn't looking I grabbed the whole box. Frankly, I was so astonished at the fabulous results, cookies all over the floor, that I hardly knew what to do. That gave Mom an opening and she picked most of them up before Pumpkin and I could do any serious food vacuuming.

I've discovered I can put my front paws on the counter and really get my nose and mouth pretty far back, especially if I add a little jump. Mom is all worried about my new talent and she's pushed everything way, way back on the counters and put all the food in cupboards or the refrigerator.

Not me or Mom, but you get the idea. I'm too quick to be photographed.

Mom asked the rest of the GSD Rescue team for advice. Frankly, their advice stinks. They appear to have extensive experience in squelching this talent thru some rather Machaevellian mechanisms and they didn't hesitate to share their wisdom with Mom. Bummer for me.

Here's their suggestions (and stories) and you can see for yourself how heartless they are:

  • Robin: SO familiar! I have a GSD who can take a bowl full of food off the back of the counter, walk it to a corner of a far room and put itdown to eat it, all without spilling a drop. He knows how to getinto the refrigerator and freezer (but unfortunately he's not considerate enough to close them when he's finished looking). He knows how to open all the regular doors, including the front andgarage, and can even unlock the sliding glass door and let himselfout into the back yard! So all these things are now re-inforced with additional locks or deterrants and all food is up in the highercabinets. Suggestions for refrigerator locks appreciated (something that looksbetter than duct tape!).

  • JJ: Robin,Your dog sounds like he would have made a great service dog. They teach dogs to do that kind of stuff!!

  • Barbara: I found some things at PetsMart (or Petco, can't remember which) called "Snappy Trainers" that are working to some extent with my dogs. They're mousetraps with big red plastic flaps on them. They don't hurt the dog, but they do startle it. Once my dogs had set one off a couple of times, they learned to recognize it and won't touch it now. I left some ribs on the counter a few days ago with one of these on top and they weren't touched. They also corrected Osko's getting into the dogfood container. I put three of these on top and after he'd set them off a couple of times he didn't bother it any more. Main problem I have is I forget they're there and set one off myself!

  • Bunnell: Oh Cynthia. How familiar this sounds. It is like they have stilts in their legs which EXTEND. A previous GSD we had helped himself to an uncooked Diamond Jim Pot Roast. Strolled out in the garden with it. Fortunately I was right behind him, so managed to retrieve it, wash it well and did'nt talk about it at the dinner table. Our Trainer tells us to "set the dog up". Put some tasty item within reach, then have a tin can with pennies or rocks in it and as the dog goes up for the steal, shake the can and hollar "NO". Don't know if the Rescue group would authorize that approach, but it does work. Our current GSD still makes a grab once in awhile, but not often.

  • Michelle: We use the soda can filled with pennies approach to squelch barking in our beginning obedience classes. It works great. Gives them quite a startle and breaks their train of thought - at least for a minute or so.

  • Linda: I know this isn't funny, Cynthia, but I couldn't help smiling when I read your post and thinking that he sure must be feeling good again and enjoying the blessing of being in the house for the first time in his life!!

  • Jay: I have found that a few well placed mouse traps can keep them off the counters, out of the trash can, and off the couch. They don't get caught in the traps, but the "snap" startles them real good.

  • Roberta: Great idea Jay, but how do you keep them from getting caught in the traps? Is something put over the traps to protect the dogs from getting hurt?

  • Sharon: My Xoe has a PhD in counter surfing -- clearly she is the smartest being in this home. We keep all food related items in the oven or microwave for storage. We try to think in terms of having opposable thumbs to access -- and still she surprises us!

    There are humane "mouse traps" that can be purchased (try the major store chains). They essentially make the big noise and snap, but don't pose the same threat as a real mouse trap. The beauty of this is that you can bait your dog, the trap goes off and you're not the bad guy because you are not there when it happens. The dog will not associate this unpleasant experience with you -- just the kitchen counter or sofa or wherever you want the dog to steer clear.

    Also a word to the wise, keep ALL medication on a top shelf. Xoe blew out her left back knee in August. She is slated for surgery next week and the vet had prescribed Deramaxx (similar to Rimadyl) for the inflamation and pain. Xoe managed to get to the very back corner of the counter and chomped at least half a bottle of medication. She had never crossed the line to where the medicine was stored before, but the tabs tasted like treats to her. Thankfully I came home shortly after the incident and was able to get her to the vet in time. It was several days and several $$$ before I knew that she would be okay and not suffer any long term damage. She took ten years off my life with this one...

    Please be sure that anything that can be remotely tempting (whether you find it attractive or not) is put well out of reach of kids and dogs. The only thing on my kitchen counter now is the coffee pot and the mail.

  • Bunnell: Yes, I have heard about the mouse traps and that they work.I believe the Humane Society recommends this as well. And, I know someone who tried it and it worked.

  • Scott: If you can't find the humane mouse traps, a piece of newspaper placed over a standard mouse trap works very well. It keeps the paw or nose, as the case may be, from getting whapped, but still makes lot's of noise. Another trick I heard of, is to soak a small piece of bread in REALLY hot hot sauce. Set it on the counter and let fido get a taste of it. This doesn't always work though, as some dogs really like it hot. Not recommended for dogs with sensitive stomachs however.

I just hope their own dogs don't have internet access. They might be dreadfully disappointed at how devious their pet guardians really are.

P.S. Sorry I didn't post yesterday. Nothing happened anyway. Just another day in paradise.


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