What is “Alpha Rolling” Really Telling Your Dog?
The Alpha Roll is the dominating technique of forcing your dog onto his back to expose his belly and force him into submission. This technique became well known in the 1970’s from the very popular book “How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend” (by the Monks of New Skete Monastery) written predominately by Job Michael Evans. The technique came from a wolf study in the 1950’s that studied pack behavior in wolves. Unfortunately this early study has since proven to be very flawed. Job Evans left the Monastery and spent much of the last years in his life trying to get the publisher to remove the technique from the book.
It is extremely rare for a dog to roll another dog onto his back. When you see a dog that is on his back, he has rolled over voluntarily, saying I am no threat. It is actually a calming signal to the other dog. A wolf will rarely roll another onto his back, and if he does, he is actually trying to kill him. So if you force your dog onto his back, you are telling him that you want him dead! He probably will never trust you again. Studies have shown that by doing an “Alpha Roll” on your dog, you will actually increase the aggression in at least 25% of the cases. Quite often an owner that does the “Alpha Roll” will receive a bite in the face, and if he doesn’t, in most cases the dog will not trust you going forward. So the “Alpha Roll” to teach your dog that you are dominate is not a behavior that dogs understand or naturally do.
Fortunately the publishers of “How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend” have retracted this technique from the book and now state “We no longer recommend this technique and strongly discourage its use to our clients… It is potentially very dangerous and can set up the owner for a serious bite in the face (or worse), particularly with a dominant dog. The conditions in which it might be used effectively are simply too risky and demanding for the average dog owner; there are other ways of dealing with problem behavior that are much safer and, in the long run, just as effective.” Sadly, Job Evans died before this change in the book occurred.
Today most trainers in America know that this technique is seriously flawed and do not use it. However, one of the most famous dog trainers in the world still promotes this technique and tells people to use it. Be warned.
(Original Article posted on CanineMaster.com blog)