Should I alpha roll my dog?

  1. NO.

If you can successfully alpha roll your dog then it serves no purpose. If you’ve got the kind of dog that you think would benefit from being rolled then you will do nothing but create distrust and fear in your dog.

People often feel that the alpha roll is the appropriate course of action after their dog has growled, snapped or made some other gesture that necessitates the dog being put in his place.

The dog must have perceived some form of threat, hence the warning. If you go in with physical chastisement and fighting you are merely confirming his suspicions. The ensuing fight will go one of two not very successful ways.

You will either win and your dog will give up, full of resentment, distrust and fear or he will fight back and you will get hurt.

Both scenarios result in a dog and handler with trust issues and trust as we should all know is the basis of all healthy relationships.

Better to heed the warning and back away. Find a distraction to defuse the situation and when you can, safely put the dog away. THen analyse what went on.

Use your superior human brain to work out what could have happened to make your dog feel threatened by your presence or something you did. Then work out a way to stop your dog feeling like that.

The issues are quite often around valued objects or locations and in my experience, rare in dogs whose handlers attempt to primarily use positive reinforcement.

Anger breeds anger and fear breeds fear. We reap what we sow and what goes around comes around. We live what we learn. I’m sure there are other sayings that are appropriate but my brain has gone numb.

For a bit more on this subject, check out dominance theory is outdated or to really get the full picture you can purchase Positive Police Dogs: Philosophy by clicking here. The book contains everything you need to know about training theory and what makes dogs tick.


13 Responses to “Should I alpha roll my dog?”

  1. THANK you! There are still too many trainers and people who think dominance is part of making a dog “OBEY”@@@

  2. Yes, violence begets violence. Great article. Thanks

  3. Tara Choules Says:

    Ironically the Google Ads that display are advertising the very techniques you are writing against. Suggest you turn OFF google ads on this page!
    LOVE the article.

    • guy2932 Says:

      It is indeed ironic however the adds help WordPress to make enough money to remain free. I would hope that having read my article the add would be falling on deaf ears so to speak. Thank you for your comments though they are much appreciated.

      • Fortunately the ad that popped up when I read this article was one for Karen Pryor Academy — all clicker training! (and a very good program!)

  4. That cannot be written often enough what you wrote. You found the right words. Thanks. It’s that simple. So let us hope that more human beings especially those you have dogs will use their human brain 🙂

  5. Hi,
    I like your blog, and will get your book. Our training center has been busy this year with some positive working dog seminars (in April – Steve White, In May – Belgian K9 Friends / Axel Van der Borght and Guy Penning). Thank you for contributing to the growing buzz that working dogs will work for rewards and don’t need to learn with pain and fear. Please get in touch with us.
    PosiDog Canine Learning Center

  6. Nice to know that there are positive police dogs trainers (and that Steve White is not the only one).

    Sophia Yin

  7. name required Says:

    I’ve only used the Alpha Roll with one dog. It worked, and continues to work, though the Alpha Roll “technique” has changes drastically, evolving from physical to hands free visual.

    It would be problematic for me to suggest, with certainty, that it will work for you, because you and your dog are different than me an mine. Those sorts of variables dramatically affect outcomes.

    That being said, its also problematic to suggest, without reservation, that Alpha Roll should not be used. It isn’t a black white issue. I might concede that it’s not the “go to” tactic. I’ll speculate that it won’t work on every dog. If you aren’t sold – don’t do it.

    But it did for mine, and based on the dog aggression that I had seen displayed by my dog, prior to my desperate implementation of the Alpha Role, it saved his life.

    • I agree that there may come a time when a dog needs to be physically restrained. The restraint in its self won’t tend to solve the issue though. The threats of violence that generally go with it may be enough to suppress the unwanted behaviour but there are better, less confrontational ways around every problem. The problem is you don’t know that alpha rolling your dog is a bad idea until you’re doing it. And by then it’s too late. The handler gets hurt and it’s the dog that carries the can. I just think people should avoid make or break techniques and the alpha roll just doesn’ t do what it’s advocated to do. It is potentially dangerous especially as it is normally aimed at dogs already showing aggressive traits.

  8. Patty Jones Says:

    obviously you have never tried to groom someones overly aggressive dog is a time friendly fashion. most of the time quietly putting a muzzle on and quickly doing what needs to be done works. other times, not so much. understand most times we have to remove hair from the dogs face, feet, and other areas they have never been taught to allow. just try clipping a dogs face that is aggressively snapping at your hands and face. I will generally try sweet talk and treats first, however if that is getting me nowhere I will calmly lay the dog on it’s side and hold it till it has stopped growling and snapping. when it has stopped it’s disagreeable behaviour I will give praise and take a deep breath and start over (doing whatever thing the dog didn’t like) when the face, feet or whatever is done I treat. usually by the third time I groom the dog it is happy to see me and will let me do anything I ask wagging it’s tail and without complaint. if this doesn’t work I will ask the client to talk to their vet about getting a sedative to make it easier.

  9. I alpha rolled my shih tzu after he bit everyone in the family at least once. He was just being a selfish boy thinking he could just bite his owners to get his way. I triggered his aggressive behavior intentionally multiple times, by nagging him (not too bad, he’s just a loose cannon), and applied the technique each time he snapped. I also rewarded him fotr allowing me to pick him up without snarling. Each time I did it he became less aggressive. He hasn’t attempted to bite me for a while now. I wouldn’t recommend it to most people for their safety, as it might be difficult to actually execute the technique without getting hurt. My dog’s a pansy shih tzu, with pretty dull teeth, though he did manage to break my skin on my first attempt. I think that attacking is an unacceptable behavior, especially when it occurs spontaneously, like with my dog. I would only do this method on a dog like mine who believes he can become aggressively assertive to scare people and get his way.

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