For Home-Style pet boarding, where guests are allowed to roam cage free, you have undoubtedly experienced a few canine counter surfers who want what you’re having!

Most dogs can’t resist the lure of something yummy left on the kitchen counter. If given the opportunity to nab it, you bet it’s a robbery about to happen.  Obviously, if you know your furry guests are prone to thievery, you clear the countertops of every bread crumb before you exit the kitchen. A pet sitter’s job is to ensure dogs stick to their diet which doesn’t include the human treats in the kitchen, not supplied by their owners.

Yet if you are boarding one or more dogs or pet sitting for a dog in a household with family members who aren’t as diligent as you are, it may be harder to control.  This is especially important when toxic food items are inadvertently made available (chocolate, grapes, onions, nuts, etc). For a complete list of people foods that are toxic to pets visit:

I will never forget the antics of a favorite house guest “Zoey”. I knew in advance that Zoey had sneaky skills. A beautiful English Mastiff with the height to easily reach countertops coupled with a keen interest to explore pantry doors, counters and cupboards. She would wait until no one was looking then help herself to food items of desire.

Her Mom dropped her off for boarding after she consumed an Easter basket of chocolates- wrappers and all! For several days, her outdoor “deposits” included a rainbow of foil. Given her girth, she digested her spoils without issue.  A smaller dog, however, would have been rushed to the vet.

To curb this “Zoey-like” habit with furry house guests, a little pet sitter ingenuity is required. A quick and easy solution is to install a baby gate at the kitchen entrance every time you are cooking or serving family meals. A simple spring-loaded gate should be sufficient and avoid drilling holes in your walls.

If you have the time for a little training, leave something tempting on the countertop, slightly out of nose reach, and hide around the corner. Using either a spy cam device or hand-held mirror, wait and watch for your dog to investigate, then rush in quickly with the command “leave it!” or “ah ah ah” to interrupt this behavior. If practiced over time, they will eventually get the point and “leave it” alone.

You can also try to redirect the dog’s behavior.  Give them a food-stuffed toy or chew bone in another room of the home to keep them busy while you’re cooking in the kitchen. Chew bones are best served when there is only one dog in the other room. With multiple dogs, chew bones can incite a fight, so it is best to avoid food aggression. This includes keeping them separated during mealtimes.

We’d love to hear your “Zoey” stories!  Comment below or share as a post on our social pages!

As always, be safe and happy in your pet sitting journey. We’re here to help you every step of the way!


Tori and AoPP pet pros

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