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Alpha rolling: why it should be avoided with your dog

Updated on May 18, 2013

Submissive dogs spontaneously ''alpha roll' on their own when reprimaded

Learn why this approach can turn out dangerous

A group of wolves are standing nearby. Suddenly one of the biggest males -the Alpha male- reaches another member of the pack and forcefully flips him over on its back. Frightened, the flipped over dog, fears for his life and turns very submissive. He knows that if he doesn't submit quickly, the alpha male may go for his throat.

This is called the "Alpha roll" and not many know that this forceful and drastic act of leadership is used pretty rarely in nature and only when strictly necessary. Dog handlers and trainers in the past have used the Alpha roll technique as well in an effort to prove "dominance" to their dogs. While it may seem effective, chances are, that more often than not, it could turn out being very dangerous.

The flipped over dog may fear for his life, and as we know too well, a frightened dog is also the one very likely to bite. As an ultimate defense, the dog will try to bite the roller and this can turn out pretty brutal since the roller will find himself/herself very close and positioned in a way that prevents protection. The dog may easily aim for the face turning an alpha roll into a roll to the hospital.

If you are lucky enough and you still are intact, the Apha roll will cause fear in your dog or puppy and lead to submissive related problems such as becoming excessively shy, fearful and even turning into a submissive urinator which is very annoying to deal with.

Besides being drastic, the Alpha roll is really unnecessary, there are many more, gentle acceptable ways to teach your dog nowadays. The NILF (Nothing In Life Is Free) approach is much more friendlier, non-confrontational and effective. Better off, if your dog is exhibiting behavior problems, employ a dog behavior professional who uses gentle, force-free methods. You will be explained why your dog misbehaves (and why your dog is not being dominant) and given options on how to re-direct the unwanted behavior and prevent it from happening.


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      jesse 9 years ago

      i think the alpha role should be used in two situations when a dog does something that is totally unacceptable ie nipping a child and through play and have the animal fliphimself rather than you forceably flipping him ie playing with the pup i play a game with my pup i try to keep at least one hand touching his backside whil hes riled up and when he gets to tired to try and evade my touch i mount him whilehes lieing and he usually will roll himself this roll you'll notice the dog wont thrash to get away or try and bite you so much its a natural way to roll

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      That sounds logical when you put it like that. Actually I push our dog over and say roll over and some times he bites. But it is usually playful. But now thinking about it could get out of hand that's for sure. Thanks for that