Last night I learned about Alpha Rolls.
I met Jan Perkins last fall during the Walk and Wag event held at the University of Utah. I really liked her, liked where she was coming from in terms of dog training and she stuck in my mind. Now that Takoda’s nearing his first birthday I’m getting serious about going beyond basic obedience. Plus, He’s a teenager and starting to push boundaries. I’m sick of him trying to jump out of the car and ‘escape’; of him jumping on strangers to say hello, etc. And now he’s trying to nip Sage when she runs past him- typical Australian shepherd behavior but nonetheless unacceptable.
I called Jan and that same night she was starting a rally/agility class. He loved it; I loved it and at the end we had time to discuss personal ‘homework’. Boundary training- I always go first; through doors. He’s not allowed out of the car until I say so. We of course discussed how to correct naughty behaviors. And when a dog tried to act like he’s man of the house, it’s the Alpha Roll….
Make sure you are doing your alpha rolls daily. Alpha rolls are the same thing that the mother dog or an alpha dog would do to another dog to show dominance over them. When a puppy gets out of control, the mother dog will put her mouth over the puppy’s neck and put them on the ground. The puppy then will usually submit by rolling on its back and showing its flank or if very submissive will piddle. If a more dominant dog goes after a submissive dog the dominate dog will go for the neck, put their hackles up and become very large, or get on top of the submissive dog and the submissive dog will roll on his back to show submission. At this point most dogs will walk away from each other unless they are on their own property and are very territorial.
Dogs understand alpha rolls and by doing these you put yourself in the leadership position.
To alpha roll your dog:
Roll them on their side taking one hand and gently but firmly placing it over the neck. The other hand firmly but carefully lies over their body, keeping them in a prone position. Be careful with their legs to make sure they do not get caught underneath and get hurt. If your dog submits easily, these can be done as a fun body massage with lots of love. When massaging your dog use two fingers and massage gently down the spine from the base of the skull to the tail. Massage each leg and down to each foot. If they are sensitive, move your hand up to a more comfortable area and work back to the sensitive place slowly. You can massage the ears, gums and jaw muscle. You can also use these as a correction for your dog.
Now, if your dog defies you and is not listening to your correction you can put them in an alpha roll firmly but do not praise at the end with the massage. Have them get back up and do whatever you were correcting for. Then you can praise. Just make sure your dog stays down until you release them. If your dog fights his way up and you let him, you lose big time. They then know they are stronger than you are. Also, make sure that your dog doesn’t put his paw over your arm while they are being rolled. That is another way they show that they are not totally submissive.
Do be careful when trying this as some dogs are dominate over you and you just don’t know it. They’ll snap at you when you put them down. If you are afraid, you might have one of these dogs, give Jan a call at