Ask the Trainer

Ask the Trainer: The Great Alpha Roll Debate

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

“Hi Steve, My co-worker suggested I “Alpha Roll” my dog when he does something bad.  Should I be doing this?” – Craig H.

Ahh, the infamous alpha roll technique.  Great question Craig.  Let’s put an end to the great alpha roll debate once and for all…do NOT alpha roll your dog.  Period.

For those that don’t know, an alpha roll is when you physically turn a dog on its back and pin them to the ground until they take on a state of submission.  This is an old school and archaic method.  One argument made by those who use and endorse this technique is, “that’s how wolves do it”.  The simple fact is, we are not wolves.  Many experts debate as to whether wolves even utilize a similar approach, most experts think they do not.

Not to mention, this technique makes you extremely vulnerable to a dog bite, is very confrontational, and it does absolutely nothing to develop the bond with your dog.  If anything, it may hurt the relationship and overall training progress you are looking to make.

In the year 2016, we have come a long way in how we train dogs.  I am not anti-correcting dogs by any means, but I am anti-alpha rolls.  I am pro-teaching dogs in a fair, clear, and consistent manner.  Only after the dog has proven unequivocally that they understand what is expected, will I fairly correct a dog for noncompliance of a known command or expectation.

Whatever reason someone might have to alpha roll a dog, can be solved with a different approach or technique.  Thus making the alpha roll obsolete.  If your dog is having accidents, use a proven housebreaking protocol.  If your dog jumps, address that.  If your dog destroys items in the home, handle it appropriately.  

In short, the alpha roll is not necessary to raise a well-behaved and balanced dog.  What is necessary, are clear structure, reliable obedience training, and time to develop a lasting relationship that is build on trust and respect.

S.R. Dog Training offers dog training in Putnam NY, Westchester NY, and Connecticut.  Read about Steve, find out more: and “Like” at:


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  1. […] aversive training, including, for example, the use of choke or prong collars, punishment, and “alpha rolls” where a dog is aggressively rolled onto their back and held in place until they show submissive […]

  2. Avatar Of Robert Corn

    Robert Corn


    What is the alternative to “alpha roll”? Working with aggressive and dominant ‘alpha’ dogs what do you suggest for fighters and biters?

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