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Radar Plays "Dirty Santa"

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Ever play "Dirty Santa?" Not my favorite holiday party game but a common one. Sometimes Radar plays dirty Santa with me and instead of a lovely gift I get an unpleasant surprise.

The first dirty Santa gift I received from Radar was what I call "dirty dog dodge." You know this trick: you reach for your dog's collar and he darts away, just out of your reach. Sometimes Dirty Dog Dodge is followed by a play bow (the dog version of "I'm just playing with ya"). As I'm getting to know Radar better, he is showing me many behaviors he learned before coming to me that I find undesirable. I'm sure he would not agree with me on a couple of his favorites (such as trash pilfering). It would not be unexpected for a shelter dog to come with some "undesirable software" but the question becomes: how do we wipe the slate clean? How do we remove the bad programming without loosing any good programming? My own desire would be to do it the easiest way possible (for me) which would mean never removing these undesirable behaviors at all but simply replacing them with desirable behaviors. I call that the lazy lady's way to train.

So, instead of playing Dirty Dog Dodge with Radar we play "touch" (a behavior he has learned which involves touching my palm with his nose). TaDa, when I need to take Radar by the collar, he gladly lets me while he plays "touch" with my other hand. I've replaced his old behavior -- undoubtedly learned in his past life, where grabbing hands were to be avoided at all cost -- with a new behavior. And in the process I've reconditioned him to associate my reaching hands with positive feelings instead of fear. Problem solved, one at least. Does your dog run away? There's more you can know about fixing this and other problems.

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