Charley’s New Sport: Counter-surfing!

Prince Charles recently discovered that he’s now tall enough to surf counters. Not only can he reach the top of a counter easily, with little effort he can grab things that are set way back from the edge. He also noticed desirable things often reside atop the dinner table.

This is what the Human calls “not a good development.” We might even say I hate that!

Loud exclamations of No! Bad dawg!! QUIT THAT!!! only add to the fun. A squirt in the face with cold water gets the dog’s attention…very, very briefly. Food trumps face-squirt, any day.

Luckily, the Human is not without resources. From deep in an old, dusty drawer came a tool I once used to get Anna the German Shepherd to stay off her favorite perch, a white sofa. It’s called a ScatMat, and it’s a strip of plastic-encased wiring that emits a mild shock—feels like that jolt of static electricity you get when you touch a doorknob after schlepping around on wool rugs. Here’s one available at Amazon: it’s longer than the ones I have, and I know I didn’t pay $60 for it, and so if you’re interested, you may want to check your local pet store or, if Skimlinks puts up a live link to that first mention, see if you can get one cheaper there. They come in different sizes and shapes—you can get them in rectangular shapes, for example, that might be used to guard an entire chair or block the dog from a floor or entry to a room.

These ScatMat things are awesome. They really work, and they don’t hurt the dog. No whapping with newspapers, no hollering, and best of all, no sandwiches or donuts carried off between canine jaws. They’re most effective when you catch the dog in the act and emit a firm “NO!” just as he’s raring up to explore the countertop. But because the mat is always on, it will deal out a reminder even when you’re not in the room.

Another device that I’ve used with mixed results is a shrill motion-sensitive alarm that squeals when the dog (or cat, or anything) touches the sacred piece of furniture. For the Ger-shep, I bought both the Scraminal and the Tattle Tale. They’re OK, I guess: they  make an annoying noise that’s probably more aversive for the human than it is for the dog, and I found they weren’t as effective at short-circuiting the counter-surfing and furniture-jumping as an electrified strip. To make these things work, you need to have already conveyed to the dog that jumping up on the furniture or counters is unacceptable. Otherwise, the animal doesn’t perceive the noise as a signal to quit doing that.

 * * *

Holy God! Somebody just tried to open the front door and Charley went BATSHIT CRAZY!

Hey, pal. You’re a freaking golden retriever,  not a pit bull.

He started the alarm and then Cassie went off, too. As I went trotting into the living room, I could hear someone messing with the outside security door…and OMG, the inside door was unlocked!

Flipped the deadbolt shut, grabbed the shilelagh that resides next to the door, and ran for the phone. By the time the 911 operator answered, they’d wandered into view of the front window: a couple of middle-aged women, neither of whom looked very bright.

Probably religious nuts or political canvassers, though they didn’t leave any propaganda at the door. Usually the fruitcakes will leave a Watchtower or some similar litter on your doorstep, and political shills will drop brochures or fliers.

Annoying. And stupid! To get to the security door, they have to go through an iron gate and enter a courtyard, which pretty obviously says “private property.” They probably were trying to open the screen door to knock on the interior door, since the two (!) doorbells (one outside the gate and one next to the front door) are often overlooked by the dim of eyesight or brainpower.

Well. Good dog! It’s amazing that he’ll do that at this young age. And reassuring: Cassie yaps—when she gets up a head of steam, she sounds like an enraged poodle. But when Charley barks, he sounds like something that means business. Honestly, when he gets mature enough to stay at M’hijito’s house all day, I may go out and get another one of that breeder’s dogs. Especially if she ever wants to get rid of one that’s grown and trained.

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Money Beagle February 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

One of our cats knows when we go up to get the kids ready for bed and he cruises the counters to see if there’s anything up there. I’ve tried everything from hiding around the corner and scaring the hell out of him to putting aluminum foil on the counters, but it matters not, he’s up there no matter what. Drives Mrs. Beagle crazy but I usually just try to give the counters a quick wipedown more often when I know he’s been up there.

george February 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Dog training classes right now.

If this clown can reach the counter there goes your dinner.

Sit means sit.

I might add that if the owner doesn’t have have his/her heart in it, it will be a waste of time and money.

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