Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling
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Thread: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

  1. #1
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    Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    Hi all,

    I'm having a bit of an argument with my husband...he made a super ignorant remark tonight about how alpha rolling is "okay" after we saw a man do it to his staffordshire terrier at the dog park. He said something along the lines of "but look at that dog, he wasn't scared, bullied, etc.." and has also in the past alpha rolled and "dominated" our 10 year old pitbull mix (before I was in the picture).

    I thought I'd gotten through to him in recent years and especially before we got our puppy (now 6.5 months). He is accusing me of not being educated and I would like to throw everything I have at him, because I won't stand for that kind of dog training in my home (I am strictly positive).

    Show me what you got!

    Thanks DogForums

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    Senior Member taquitos's Avatar
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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    Here are just a couple on alpha rolling by two veterinary behaviorists. Like, actual behaviorists (not trainers) who have studied dog behavior and have gotten PhDs on them
    http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/ne...se_more_harm_t
    http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/sit...hmalpha%3F.pdf

    Dogs and wolves do not force other dogs onto the floor and flip them over. They offer the behavior on their own as an act of appeasement. Biiiig difference.

    I used to be one of those people who did the whole Cesar Milan-style, yank and roll type training... and then I got bit one day and realized it was not at all helping my then foster dog, who had serious dog reactivity. Definitely dangerous and a definite no-no.
    Last edited by taquitos; 12-17-2014 at 07:22 PM.

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    Senior Member chimunga's Avatar
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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    My husband is kind of the same way. It's my fault though. A few months before we got Watson, I was heavily on the Cesear Milan train. I had my husband read the books. Then I found Pat Miller and clicker training and the rest is history. Thank god. It just made so much more...sense to me. I literally switched my thinking overnight. My husband then accused me of being wishy-washy and changing my mind too easily. It was really hard to change his way of thinking about it. But once he saw how effective positive reinforcement was, he was sold.

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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling


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    Senior Member cookieface's Avatar
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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior position statements (one for dominance, one for punishment)

    American College of Veterinary Behavior How to find a Trainer (recommends against use of dominance theory in training)

    Association of Professional Dog Trainers Dominance and Dog Training

    Live Science Critics Challenge 'Dog Whisperer' Methods

    BEYOND CESAR MILLAN (perhaps select a few statements to present)

    Dominance Versus Leadership in Dog Training

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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone. I am of course doing my own research and searching for what I've read in the past but this will all help so much. Thanks for the support!

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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    Quote Originally Posted by chimunga View Post
    My husband is kind of the same way. It's my fault though. A few months before we got Watson, I was heavily on the Cesear Milan train. I had my husband read the books. Then I found Pat Miller and clicker training and the rest is history. Thank god. It just made so much more...sense to me. I literally switched my thinking overnight. My husband then accused me of being wishy-washy and changing my mind too easily. It was really hard to change his way of thinking about it. But once he saw how effective positive reinforcement was, he was sold.
    I thought I'd gotten through about how effective it is, and we have only used P+ with our current puppy, but yesterday after he saw the man in the dog park roll his dog he seemed to revert to "oh it's okay that guy's doing it" with no research or education to back it up. I'm not impressed.

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    Senior Member hanksimon's Avatar
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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    Alpha roll is bad, shaking by the scruff is bad, yelling at the dog is bad, hit the dog is bad .... but all can be effective temporarily, and they provide positive reinforcement for the bully using them. When people hit a dog or alpha roll it, the person was frustrated by the dog and feels better b/c the dog is now behaving better... even if cringing or submissive peeing.

    It's 'easy' to alpha roll a small dog (altho Chihuahuas fight like the ****ens), a Golden, a Lab, or a Pit b/c they are so very eager to please. I imagine that if you do it enough that a Golden would 'alpha roll' on cue when approached. Many moons ago when I was teaching advanced classes, someone suggested using an alpha roll to do a long sit-stay. A teachable moment .... [I played roughly with my dog, but never in public ... rolling him, tackling him, chasing him, growling at him ... getting tackled BY him] So, I figured that I'd alpha roll my Lab-mix to illustrate the conflict and futility of using that to help train a sit-stay.

    I asked him to sit-stay for 5 min., and he barked at me, b/c that was excessive at the time. So, I walked up to him, in front of the class, to 'punish' him with an alpha roll, grabbing him, putting him on his back, and growling in his face. 'Play time?' He licked my nose while I was growling at him. The class laughed, diffusing the idea of an alpha roll. When I let him up ... he didn't want to sit-stay... he wanted to play!

    I'd pay good money to see someone try to alpha roll an Akita :-) I've been told the result is similar to trying to alpha roll a wolf :-)

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    Senior Member sharpei's Avatar
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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    Quote Originally Posted by hanksimon View Post

    I'd pay good money to see someone try to alpha roll an Akita :-) I've been told the result is similar to trying to alpha roll a wolf :-)
    thats a clip you would find on a show called "people doing dumb things with dangerous animals"

    on a side note last winter my dog malcom tore his cruciate tendon, to get a proper x ray we had to roll him on his side and pin him. unfortunately for the vet techs they attempted to do so without informing me. they grabbed him and tried to roll him over. he went ballistic screaming, peeing, and pooing everywhere. both techs got covered. they then asked for my assistance. after that episode it took me almost 4 minutes to get him onto the table to lay down then go on his side. he would not let the techs approach him every time they tried he would hop back up. since the vet had not been involved in the forced roll he could approach so the vet and I positioned him and the xray machine and once he was on side I held him steady long enough for the vet to get a shot of the knee. If you want to teach a dog not to trust you go ahead and aplha roll them. thats the only result those techs got from rolling my dog, that and smocks and scrubs covered in urine and poop.

    (obviously they were doing the roll for medical not domination reasons but the dog doesn't know anything other than some one is forcing them over)
    Last edited by sharpei; 12-18-2014 at 08:34 AM.
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    Senior Member taquitos's Avatar
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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    Quote Originally Posted by hanksimon View Post
    Alpha roll is bad, shaking by the scruff is bad, yelling at the dog is bad, hit the dog is bad .... but all can be effective temporarily, and they provide positive reinforcement for the bully using them. When people hit a dog or alpha roll it, the person was frustrated by the dog and feels better b/c the dog is now behaving better... even if cringing or submissive peeing.

    It's 'easy' to alpha roll a small dog (altho Chihuahuas fight like the ****ens), a Golden, a Lab, or a Pit b/c they are so very eager to please. I imagine that if you do it enough that a Golden would 'alpha roll' on cue when approached. Many moons ago when I was teaching advanced classes, someone suggested using an alpha roll to do a long sit-stay. A teachable moment .... [I played roughly with my dog, but never in public ... rolling him, tackling him, chasing him, growling at him ... getting tackled BY him] So, I figured that I'd alpha roll my Lab-mix to illustrate the conflict and futility of using that to help train a sit-stay.

    I asked him to sit-stay for 5 min., and he barked at me, b/c that was excessive at the time. So, I walked up to him, in front of the class, to 'punish' him with an alpha roll, grabbing him, putting him on his back, and growling in his face. 'Play time?' He licked my nose while I was growling at him. The class laughed, diffusing the idea of an alpha roll. When I let him up ... he didn't want to sit-stay... he wanted to play!

    I'd pay good money to see someone try to alpha roll an Akita :-) I've been told the result is similar to trying to alpha roll a wolf :-)
    Hahahaha yes, this.

    I don't even TRY to physically manipulate any dog that I have only just met and began training with. I fear for the "trainer's" life if they are trying to alpha roll dogs they don't even know :/

  13. #11
    Senior Member cookieface's Avatar
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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    Crantastic has a nice set of links. I have it bookmarked at home, but not work. Perhaps someone else has ready access to it.

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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    Quote Originally Posted by Crantastic View Post
    You sound like someone who enjoys reading and learning, so here are some things for you to read. Some of the links are about dominance theory (where the idea of pinning a dog comes from) and some are about punishment-based techniques in general.

    De-Bunking the "Alpha Dog" Theory
    AVSAB Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals
    Misconceptions of the Mythical Alpha Dog
    Wolf expert L. David Mech's site (he helped popularize the whole "pack order"/alpha/dominance thing, but later learned that much of what he believed was wrong)
    Enforcing vs. Reinforcing – Reflections on Leadership and Dogs
    Is Punishment an Effective Way to Change the Behavior of Dogs?
    AVSAB Position Statement on The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals
    Leader of the Pack

    Also relevant: Thank Your Dog For Growling



    You can believe that all you like, but that's not how dogs think. When you pin a dog, that dog believes that you intend to hurt or kill it. Some dogs will submit because they are afraid. Some will fight back. Either way, it's not helping. Sorry, but I am firmly on your partner's side in this one. I would not want you living with my dogs, either.
    There are many, but you can find the original thread this was taken from, here .. https://www.dogforums.com/dog-trainin...-dominant.html

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    Senior Member chimunga's Avatar
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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    Quote Originally Posted by hanksimon View Post
    I asked him to sit-stay for 5 min., and he barked at me, b/c that was excessive at the time. So, I walked up to him, in front of the class, to 'punish' him with an alpha roll, grabbing him, putting him on his back, and growling in his face. 'Play time?' He licked my nose while I was growling at him. The class laughed, diffusing the idea of an alpha roll. When I let him up ... he didn't want to sit-stay... he wanted to play!
    Lol. I love this. Watson's the same way. I rough house and growl at him. Sometimes he ends up on his back. It doesn't scare him because I've never given him any cause to be scared. I love that my dog doesn't flinch when you run at him or raise your hand. It's a really good feeling.

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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    Ugh, my husband doesn't alpha roll but he can yell or scare the dogs if they don't do something he asks right away, which has a negative effect on his relationship with them. He rarely does it, just if we are in a hurry and the dogs are not listening. When I say dogs, I mainly mean our two new puppies. They may listen to him out of fear, but sometimes they don't out of fear and run to me. Sometimes, I may give an agressive "NO", but women just don't have the vocals like a man. He says he has to show who is the alpha leader of the pack. I think he is showing them by his size and stature. He then doesn't understand why all our dogs seem to "love" me the most. I think it's some kind of weird instinctual man thing...yes, I know not all men do this!!

    At the same time, I get frustrated when the dogs don't listen to me, but do to him...but not enough to scare the crap out the dogs. I am no alpha, more a positive reward person (who probably inserts human feelings into my dogs when they may not apply) .

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    Senior Member wvasko's Avatar
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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    I'd pay good money to see someone try to alpha roll an Akita :-) I've been told the result is similar to trying to alpha roll a wolf :-)
    Some of the dogs I've trained through the years have been alligators and I have never in 50 years attempted to alpha-roll a dog (would not attempt it with an alligator either) even the Monks changed their minds about the roll. I thought it was a silly dangerous piece of work/writing. My opinion is it does not help dog or trainer.

    The problem is that like many training exercises it might work on some dogs and whoever has used it with success will preach to the world about how good it is, then some misguided poor fool will jump on his dog and get severely worked over by a mouth full of teeth and blame it on the dog.
    Last edited by wvasko; 12-18-2014 at 05:04 PM.
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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling


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    Re: Need Links/Studies/Articles AGAINST Dominance Theory and Alpha Rolling

    I hate this topic with a passion, the reason is my brother had the same thoughts (he Watched Cesear Milan) and did it do their labadoodle. The dog attacked him several times and was then PTS as vicious. Alpha-rolls only make the dog afraid and when the lash out they are punished. I would say if you have no problem with a face of teeth and claws then go ahead and do it, but then don't go blaming the dog when you get it.

    There are better ways to redirect a dog, punishment does not work well in most cases. I have and do recommend laying your pup on their back and showing them that you are safe and friendly, belly rubs and play this way but not as a punishment. The place I went to called it "hospital" kind of like play dead, just not dead.

    Mason 16 year old lab, P'tah 7 year old cat, Seraphiel ACS 7 months

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