An Alpha Roll is putting your dog down onto the ground as punishment for a misdeed. If your dog does something terrible, and you take him to the ground and hold him there, regardless of what name you want to call it – you are doing an Alpha Roll.
The alpha roll was first made known by the Monks of New Skete, in the 1976 book “How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend.” In the 2002 second edition of the book, the monks recanted and strongly discouraged the technique. The actual promoters of the Alpha Roll rescinded their exercise, and apologized to the public about ever having made it well known.
I used to do Alpha Rolls. Back in 1991 I did my last ever Alpha Roll. I had a young punk Bullmastiff male who showed aggression to me, and most likely he was in the right. However, I dropped him to the ground, or at least, tried to. He outweighed me, and had a more useful center of gravity. Despite my efforts, he stayed upright, and put two impressive holes in my leg while he bit down with all his might. And the worst part of having your entire leg in a giant dog’s mouth is that you realize there is absolutely nothing you can do to make them let go.
A pair of crutches later I learned my lesson. Alpha Rolls are dangerous. 22 years ago, I did my last ever Alpha Roll. And until recently, I thought every one else had done their last Rollover’s too, however, it seems not to be the case.
There seems to be confusion over Down Restraints. These are a much needed exercise for the Vet’s Office for invasive veterinary procedures and they are never to be used as punishment.
I start out with youngsters teaching them mandatory cuddling. Wriggling makes me squish tighter,(though never enough for them to feel trapped) and softness makes me kiss them on their heads and massage them. Mandatory cuddling is your dog sitting in your lap, on your terms, and being kissed and cuddled while you watch a TV Show.
We graduate to the dog lying flat on their side, and allowing their body to be examined, toe nails to be cut and other handling exercises tolerated. What this helps with is training your dog for the vet. The Veterinary Office will restrain your dog. Every Blood Test, every X-Ray, and almost every procedure requires restraint. It is up to you to teach this to your dog in the safety of your home. It is unfair to have this thrown at your dog when he is hurt, feeling ill, or stressed.
I only ever restrain my dogs in the safety of my home, and in my Vet’s office. I never ever would do it in public where they would feel vulnerable. You only have to master this at the Vets (where you will need it) and at your home for your husbandry tasks.
Start with mandatory cuddling, which is really kissing and cuddling on your terms, and graduate to a down-restraint. However, realize that your Down Restraint is never, ever, ever to be used as punishment, or when you are angry or irritated. A down restraint should be quality time spent with your dog, where you stay connected to them, and massage them.
Alpha Rolls are a bad idea. I realized this 22 years ago due to my good teacher of the time. Hopefully you can all learn from my lesson, rather than having to experience it first hand.
Happy Training Folks,
The Naughty Dogge