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How To Stop Your Newfoundland Dog From Counter Surfing

How To Stop Your Newfoundland Dog From Counter Surfing

If I had a dollar for every time that I’ve heard a Newfoundland owner say that their Newfie was caught counter surfing I would have enough money to build that built-in dog bath I’ve been wanting for years. 

It’s a common issue that many Newfie owners experience at least once and for some it can be one of the most frustrating and dangerous behavioral issues for them to deal with.

It’s happened to me more than once and I’m sure that it will happen again sometime in the future. 

Counter surfing is super easy for most Newfoundlands to do and usually, they don’t even have to lift a paw to get what they want off of the counter. 

Why Do Newfoundlands Counter Surf?

newfoundland dog counter surfing

Counter surfing is a natural behavior for any dog it just happens with bigger dogs more often because it’s easier for them. 
Dogs are opportunists and food found on the counter is an instant reward for a dog. 

I mean if I walk in the kitchen and there’s a pan of brownies sitting out, more often than not I’m going to walk over and grab one, and then I’m going to keep checking back day after day to see if there’s more. 
Walking into the kitchen and checking the counter rewards me with a treat. 
It’s the same thing a dog experiences when they counter surf.
The difference with a dog is that most of the time they chose to counter surf when their human is not in the same room.
This is where correcting the unwanted counter surfing gets tricky and why it evolves into a vicious and dangerous cycle.
It’s pointless to punish your dog when you discover that they’re stolen something off of the counter because this is usually after the fact.
The dog isn’t going to understand why they are being yelled at they aren’t going to be able to adjust their behavior if they don’t understand. 

Why It’s Important To Stop Counter Surfing 

black newfoundland dog looking up

Counter surfing can be dangerous for dogs and it can lead to them consuming foods that are toxic to them.

It can cause them moderate to severe gastrointestinal upset which can be costly to you.

It can also lead to injury if they slip or accidentally touch something that is hot.

Counter surfing doesn’t just apply to counters in the kitchen it can also apply to stoves.

This can be dangerous because a dog could burn itself or they could accidentally turn the stove on which could be dangerous for everyone in the home.

Newfies are notorious for doing this because some of them can walk by a stove and accidentally turn it on with their butt or nose.

Lou has done this several times because he always has his nose in my business!

Preventing Your Newfoundland From Counter Surfing

black newfoundland dog wearing bib

Prevention is key with counter surfing and it starts with you. 

You need to effectively manage your kitchen especially if your Newfoundland is already a counter-surfing pro. 

You can easily do this several ways such as:

  • Blocking off access to the kitchen with a gate
  • Crate training your Newfoundland when you are not home or can’t watch them.
  • Not confining your Newfoundland in the kitchen
  • Keeping your countertops free from any food items including dog treats
  • Wiping down your countertops often to make sure that they are free from crumbs
  • Keeping the butter in the microwave or fridge. (we all know that Newfies are suckers for butter)

Keep in mind that dogs are self-rewarding and if they keep earning a high-value reward from surfing the counter they are going to keep doing it until there is no more reward worth their efforts.

By removing the temptation you are removing the reward. 

Lou loves butter and I’ve pulled at least 2 sticks of butter out of his throat. 

The first time we moved the butter to a place we thought he couldn’t reach it. 

The second time, we moved it into the cupboard behind closed doors. 

Teaching Kitchen Rules To Your Newfoundland

newfoundland dog learning place command

If the above options do not work for your home (it’s hard for me to keep food off of my counters too) then you can work on establishing some rules that your Newfoundland needs to follow when they are in the kitchen with you. 

A few examples of kitchen training would be:

  • Teach your dog to “place” in a certain area in the kitchen. This can be on a mat or bed.
  • Teaching your dog to “leave it” 
  • Teaching your dog that they need to sit before they get food or treats
  • Teaching boundaries to your dog and the kitchen is the boundary that they are not allowed to go into. 

Other Ways To Deter Counter Surfing

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landseer newfoundland puppy

Besides keeping your counters clear of food and training there are a few products that can help to deter counter surfing such as:

  • Scat Mats-When your pet steps on the training mat, they will feel a safe yet startling static correction.
  • Snappy Trainer-This mousetrap-like device has a large red flap that snaps shut making a loud slapping noise when tripped. 

scat mat for dogs to prevent counter surfing

  • Cookie sheets-Line your counters with cookie sheets, hanging over the edge slightly. When your dog goes to counter-surf they will knock the sheets off the counter creating a loud bang when they crash to the floor. A dog trainer gave me this tip several years ago but she also said it may not deter ALL dogs. I will tell you that it HAS worked for Lou but now Odin is afraid to come close to the counters. 
  • Some trainers also suggest using a coffee tin or other container and place coins inside of it. Place this at the edge of the counter so when the dog goes to jump on the counter they will knock it over and it will make a loud sound. 
  • I recently saw a lady on TikTok that put coins in a few Coke cans and then tied them together with a string. She then placed them on the edge of the counter. 

If your Newfoundland is a counter surfer or if you don’t ever want your Newfie to be a counter surfer, prevention and training are going to be key.

While not the easiest route, managing the environment is going to be the most effective way to do this in most homes. 

If you are not able to manage your home effectively and your Newfoundland is a repeat counter surfer, you might need to enlist the help of a professional dog trainer. 


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Thursday 17th of September 2020

Once upon a time, baking bacon in the oven, it was necessary to leave the kitchen for a few moments. After returning to the kitchen I noticed the oven door just slightly ajar. I looked into the oven and saw several pieces of bacon missing from the tray. Of course my initial thought was my husband couldn't wait and snitched a few slices, heard me coming and made a dash out the back door before shutting the oven door completely. Before that thought was finished, I heard crunching. Loud, satisfied crunching. Following the sound I discover my Sweetie with the last bit of bacon stuck to her tongue, looking as innocent and dear as the day is long. I searched her paws, her face and her tongue for burn marks. Nothing. A hot pad was discovered under the oven door. I will never know how she did it and she never divulged her secret. Turns out my husband wasn't home and no one else was either.

This is the girl who let my horse out of his stall, opened ranch gates to assist anything wanting in or out and always had an irresistible grin and the happiest of hearts. Ranch gates are hard to open. So was Jakes padlock. But Sweetie managed much to the delight of others. The only door she couldn't open was the bathroom door when she shut it behind her to lay on the tile floor. I'm not sure what we could have done to have stopped, or inhibited any of her freedom runs and oven openings. She spent her 12 1/2 years with me and managed her mischief in the brief times my back was turned. I remain grateful to this day that she suffered no bad outcomes and none of the rest of us did either. Thankfully the New Crew do not have these propensities.

Corrine Terschak

Thursday 17th of September 2020

I had 2 rescued Saints & kept them in the kitchen by a dutch door when I went to work. The night previously, I had chili & just put the pot in the sink to soak. When I returned from work, my kitchen was flooded because my Saints jumped up on their hind legs & hit the handle of the water spicket. The beans clogged the sink & you know, my sink raineth over. Yep, new tiles, ect. Good lesson I learned.

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