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The Alpha Rollover

The Alpha-Rollover is sometimes used incorrectly to establish order. In this article the PuppyWizard Mr. Jerry Howe, author of the Wits End Dog Training Manual explains...

A snippet from Jerry Howe's WitsEnd Dog Training manual available at -link- - with permission.

Roll-Over on the Alpha Rollover

When your dog presents you with inappropriate displays of dominant behavior, many behaviorists, trainers, and veterinarians will recommend the Alpha Rollover as a remedy.

WRONG! The Alpha Rollover as it is performed is a forceful, negative, punishing experience, administered by dogs and wolves, to dogs and wolves. Mimicked by humans, we are poorly equipped to fulfill the life and death reality expressed in nature, and this sets both man and beast up for another fall from grace.

Who in their right mind is going to attempt to mimic the behavior of two dogs challenging each other aggressively for dominance in the pack hierarchy?

And, if our human stooge does get the upper hand, what shall he do with the loser? Perhaps sink his teeth into the loser's throat, glaring and growling "No!" Perhaps he will remain in this posture until his poor, frightened little dog, belly up, flanks exposed, urinating all over, gets big enough to turn the tables?

I've never seen this technique successfully done on a mature Great Dane or St. Bernard, although I have often seen the results in mature dogs that had this practice performed on them when they were little.

They are the sorts that have problems only with the alpha in his life. Others are not considered a challenge worth confronting. Of course, you as a human, would be told to grab the sides of your dogs throat with both hands, force him onto his back, stare into his face, and growl "No!" until he goes limp into submission.

While this is definitely a display of your dominance over him and in a language he can understand, it is perceived as a challenge, which makes this a very dangerous move that frequently backfires, inviting a sneak attack in retaliation at some point when the dog feels he has the upper hand.

In nature, this challenge might go on every season, until the alpha is no longer able to continue this winning streak. Then, the former alpha goes off alone, or to the rear of the pack if he's lucky.

Alpha Rollover

From watching mother dogs with their puppies, we have learned the correct way to use a different version of the Alpha Rollover as a way to cement the appropriate dominant/ submissive relationship between you and your dog. A mom dog, when allowed to raise her pups for several months, not just six weeks, will be seen standing over a resting puppy and chewing on the side of its neck, up behind the ears with her front teeth (as though flea-biting).

Pups enjoy the affectionate encounter, and usually go belly up, relaxed and happy. She is saying, "I'm your elder, and because you respect my authority, I make you feel good." We humans can use the same technique and get the same results.

Approach your dog when he is stretched out on his side, relaxed and content. Do not force him

into this position, and don't startle him if he's asleep.

Stand over him, bend down, and scratch him behind the ear. If he rolls over offering you his belly, that's all you need to do. Tell him he's a good boy, and walk off before he gets up.

Mission accomplished! No force, no punishment, no negativity. Remember, your dog is going to

model your behavior and act in kind.

You set the standard for good behaviors by demonstration.

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