Do you find that your Labrador likes to try and jump on tables or counters to snatch food? If they do don’t worry. We all know Labradors love food and anything tantalisingly close to the edge of a table or counter is seem as fair game for them. While this may be entertaining the first time, it gets incredibly annoying and can even be dangerous if they snatch something they shouldn’t eat or is too hot to eat.
In this article we are going to looking at how you can stop a Lab from jumping up on a table or counter.
Why Do Labradors Jump Up?
There are various reasons why a Labrador will jump up on a table or surface. These reasons are often very different than if they were jumping up on a person. A Lab that jumps up on a person is usually doing so because they want to play, want attention, or are simply excited to see them.
On the other hand, when it comes to tables, counters and other high surfaces it is usually to do with food or some other object they want such as a toy.
This jumping up behaviour is sometimes described as ‘counter surfing’. Most Labradors will struggle to get all fours onto a table or counter, and will instead simply place their front two paws on the high up surface to reach any items of interest. Sometimes you may even seem them twist their head to really stretch and get something far away from them.
While most of the time your Lab will be going for food, they could also be going for another item. Anything from paper towels to phones, kitchen utensils and more. This means that if you don’t get your Lab’s jumping under control, one day they may get their paws on something that is dangerous to them.
Another reason why your Labrador may jump up is so that they can see you. Labs love people, so if they don’t have a direct line of sight to you, they may try jump up. Alternatively, if they think something interesting is happening they will jump up to get a better view of what is going on.
Why Is Jumping Up Bad?
If you are reading this article you probably already think that jumping up is bad, however, some people find it funny or cute.
Jumping up on a high up surface is bad because it not only encourages naughty behaviour, but it can also be dangerous. There are loads of different food items that humans commonly consume that can be harmful or possibly even deadly to your Labrador, so it is important to make sure your dog doesn’t get hold of them.
As we wrote above, kitchen counter tops and tables often have potentially dangerous items like scissors, knives and hard plastic items placed on them. There may also be electrical wires for appliances that run along the top of tables or counters, which pose a real risk to a chewing Labrador.
Another reason why jumping up is bad is because it is unhygienic for a Labrador to put their paws all over a surface where food is made and eaten from. While we love Labs, they can carry all sorts of germs and dirt on their paws from the outside world.
How Do You Keep a Labrador Off a Table, Counter or Other High Surface?
Luckily, stopping a Labrador from jumping up is a relatively straight forward and easy process. Your main task will be to manage the situation and environment your Labrador is in, so they don’t feel the need to jump up.
Put Everything Away
The first step is to make sure that your put everything away. Make the counter or table as uninteresting to your Labrador as possible. This means that you need to put any food items, toys, or other interesting items out of your Lab’s reach and line of sight. If your Labrador jumps up and snatches a yummy snack or finds something fun to play with, it is just like reward-training for them.
Do Not Feed Your Lab Off a Counter or Table
Do you give your Labrador treats out of a bag placed on a table or counter? Do you fill up their food bowel from a high up surface? How about scraps off the dining room table or kitchen counter, do you give them those?
If you answered yes to any of those questions you need to stop doing those actions immediately. Your Labrador will learn (or already has learnt) that table and counter tops hold a multitude of delicious treats and snacks and will begin to jump up to find any.
To combat this problem, you need to move where you fill up your Lab’s bowl and where you keep/give them their treats. Additionally, stop giving your dog scraps or small treats off the dining room table or kitchen counter as this makes the problem worse and only encourages begging.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Whenever you and your Lab are in the kitchen or when you are in a place with food on a high surface, you can reward them sporadically for keeping all four paws on the ground. Keep some treats in your pocket and give them to your Lab to encourage good behaviour.
Keep Your Labrador Exercised and Entertained
A bored Labrador is a naughty Labrador and if your dog has not had enough exercise or mental stimulation they will begin to look for things to play with. Making sure your Lab is regularly exercised and entertained is a great way to keep their mind off the interesting things on top of the kitchen counter and dining room table
If you would like to know more about exercising your Labrador, check out our “How much exercise do dogs need?” article.
Get Your Lab Some Toys
Purchasing some good fun toys for your Labrador goes hand in hand with the above. Some great options include toys like the classic Kong or other chew toys. These sorts of toys can be left with your Labrador when you leave the house or are busy doing something else and can’t entertain them. You should also invest in some interactive toys you can do together such as a tug toy or ball.
Train Your Labrador
Getting your Labrador trained well is one of the most important things you can do as a responsible dog owner. Teaching your Lab to sit, come and leave will not only help you outside the house, but these commands will also help you to stop your dog from jumping up on high surfaces.
Below you can find a quick guide to training a Labrador to “leave it”. We recommend that you start training in a quiet location with as few distractions as possible.
- Place a treat in both hands and hide them behind your back, so that your Labrador can’t see them.
- Make a fist with one hand, so that your Lab can smell but can’t see the treat. Place this hand in front of you and let your Labrador sniff it.
- Say “leave it” and then wait until your Labrador has finished sniffing your hand. When they finish, say “yes” and then give them the treat from the other hand.
- Keep on doing this until your Labrador stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it”. This may take a few training sessions, so don’t worry if your Lab doesn’t get it right away.
- The next step of the training is to put a lead on your Labrador. Throw a treat just outside of their reach and say “leave it”. Wait until your Labrador stops sniffing and give them a treat. Remember to say “yes” when they stop sniffing and pulling.
- As your Labrador becomes more successful and learns the command, you can try with more tempting food items. You should also try this in different locations and with other people or dogs around. Eventually, you may even be able to put a treat on your Lab’s paw and tell them to “leave it”.
As we mentioned earlier, training your Labrador to “sit” and “come” are also two very important commands. You can learn more about teaching your dog to “sit” here. If you would like to learn how to train your Labrador to come, make sure you check out our “How to Train a Dog to Come Fast” article.
The final command we recommend teaching your Labrador is to get “Off”. Here is how to do it:
- When your Labrador jumps up onto the counter or a table, place a treat in front of their nose. Use the treat as a lure to guide them off the counter, while saying the command “Off”.
- When their paws touch the ground, immediately say “yes” and give them the treat.
- Practice this around four to five times before removing the lure. Simply say “Off” and when their paws touch the ground say “yes” and give them a treat.
- You may find that your Lab doesn’t go down when you say “Off”. If this happens return to using a lure and practice some more. Some Labradors will learn this command very quickly, while others will take a bit more time.
Concluding How to Stop a Labrador From Jumping up on Tables & Other High Surfaces
Stopping your Labrador from jumping up or putting their paws on a table or some sort of other high surface is really about keeping any potential rewards out of their reach or vision. It is also about keeping your dog entertained and exercised, so they don’t go looking for things to play with or eat.
The last part is about training your Lab correctly and not rewarding unwanted behaviour. Don’t feed your Labrador scraps off the table and make sure you fill up their bowel from the floor. Fixing this problem is not too difficult and if you follow the advice in this guide you should have no trouble stopping your Lab from jumping up.