Why this technique is considered ineffective
An “Alpha Roll” is where one wolf, dog (or human, for that matter), uses brute strength to pin another to the ground, while yelling or growling in the face of their victim.
The original study (circa 1940) that led to Alpha Rolling was based on an observation of wolves submitting to those of higher “status” in the pack by voluntarily rolling over for the other as if saying “uncle”. This wrongly led researchers to believe that a person could force a dog into submission in this manner.
It has become clear that in Canidae of all sorts, submission is a voluntary behavior, requiring very little physical force.
It makes sense that there should be a hierarchy in the home. Dogs can and do understand this setup very well, they even find comfort in not having to be the boss. But how do we accomplish this? Do we grab our human children by the back of their necks and shake them or pin them to the ground?
There are no shortcuts to proving yourself a worthy leader, one who should be respected and followed. Build your common language and relationship through training!
Today, all canine experts agree that alpha rolls may force your dog to respond with aggressive behaviors as an instinct for self-protection. At minimum you will terrify most dogs and cause them to not trust you. This can spiral out of control all too quickly. Lack of trust will undermine your efforts to establish a solid relationship with your dog.
True, some dogs are more difficult to inspire to pay attention, but the fact is, your dog will do just about anything you ask of him if he:
- Understands what you are saying through a common language (see Dog Speak, Body Language and the Five Senses), and
- Is convinced of all the amazing benefits and rewards that come as a result!
This is where I say, if you don’t know where or how to begin getting through to your dog, find a professional dog trainer whose basic philosophy agrees with your own. You will want a trainer with broad experience and an ability to translate between you and your dog. You may only need a session or two to get you on the right track.