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Discussion Starter #1
Thanks to C. Milan, the 'alpha roll' has gotten a lot of bad press and come to be regarded as an extreme in pack behavior, best not used, and extremely negative. I wonder if that behavior has been misunderstood.
My six yr old Labrador bitch frequently alpha rolls her two year old daughter and chews on her neck. Entirely play behavior. Never any hostility. The move consists of going for a front foot with the mouth and using a bit of body slam to offbalance. The other dog rolls on its back, I think mostly voluntarily. Occasionally the pup alpha rolls her mom, also playfully.
Many years ago when I was staying at a counsin's house, I somewhat accidentally alpha rolled her dog, also a Labrador, also in play. Basically, while roughhousing, I lunged for one of the front feet and knocked the dog to the floor. Thereafter, The dog decided it wanted to sleep on MY bed and seemed to be very attached to me. My cousin said she had never seen her dog react that way to other house guests.
Has anyone else got observations of this sort of behavior?
 

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Thanks to C. Milan, the 'alpha roll' has gotten a lot of bad press and come to be regarded as an extreme in pack behavior, best not used, and extremely negative. I wonder if that behavior has been misunderstood.
My six yr old Labrador bitch frequently alpha rolls her two year old daughter and chews on her neck. Entirely play behavior. Never any hostility. The move consists of going for a front foot with the mouth and using a bit of body slam to offbalance. The other dog rolls on its back, I think mostly voluntarily. Occasionally the pup alpha rolls her mom, also playfully.
Many years ago when I was staying at a counsin's house, I somewhat accidentally alpha rolled her dog, also a Labrador, also in play. Basically, while roughhousing, I lunged for one of the front feet and knocked the dog to the floor. Thereafter, The dog decided it wanted to sleep on MY bed and seemed to be very attached to me. My cousin said she had never seen her dog react that way to other house guests.
Has anyone else got observations of this sort of behavior?

The action itself isn't inherently bad IMO but the context people use it in can be very bad. What I would do to a lab that likes to rough house I wouldn't do to a chihuahua who maybe does not.
Even the aim of the actual alpha roll is to pin the dog until it shuts down and doesn't react, I'm assuming when in play you know the dog down in a none brutal manner and then let it come back at you.
 

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Play behavior (rolling around and mouthing each other) is totally different from forcing a dog on its back as a "correction".
I don't think the two actions are comparable at all. Your cousin's dog probably thought you were just a lot of fun....not an "alpha" (if that's what you're asking?)
 

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A dog choosing to go on its back in play (or easily lets itself be shoved over) is a dog who is secure and feels safe and is playing.

A dog who is forced onto its back thinks it is going to die.

I jump off a high dive that I swam out to myself, I'm playing and it's cool and fun. Someone shoves me playfully off a dock while I'm swimming and rough housing with them, also cool and fun.

Someone tries to drag me up onto the board against my will and shove me off, I'm not having fun; I'm afraid and going to fight them. Someone pushes me off a dock when I'm fully dressed and, especially if I don't know them, I am not playing; I'm TICKED OFF.

Context MATTERS.
 

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A dog choosing to go on its back in play (or easily lets itself be shoved over) is a dog who is secure and feels safe and is playing.

A dog who is forced onto its back thinks it is going to die.

I jump off a high dive that I swam out to myself, I'm playing and it's cool and fun. Someone shoves me playfully off a dock while I'm swimming and rough housing with them, also cool and fun.

Someone tries to drag me up onto the board against my will and shove me off, I'm not having fun; I'm afraid and going to fight them. Someone pushes me off a dock when I'm fully dressed and, especially if I don't know them, I am not playing; I'm TICKED OFF.

Context MATTERS.
could not have said it better-- two dogs playing is not the same as a human pinning the dog down-- one is fun and the other is fear. Likewise you do not always get that fun happy reaction if they are unknown dogs
 

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Everything CptJack said.

I've also never seen a dog shove another over in play by force and have the dog on the ground enjoy it. I have, however, seen dogs roll themselves onto their back (maybe aided by a gentle push from the other dog). So even in play there is a difference between an overly rude and pushy dog shoving other dogs around (which they may tolerate but not enjoy) and the dog who basically falls over on its back because he enjoys that style of play.

My 43lb adult dog gets "alpha rolled" in play all the time, even by puppies as small as 10lbs. Clearly he just likes playing on his back and encourages them to push him over and climb on him. But if I forced him down as a correction in an aggressive manner, he would not find it fun. Knowing him he wouldn't bite me, but he would be terrified and very uncomfortable with the interaction. Context.
 

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I guess it's like using a spray bottle, some dogs will find that very aversive, others will be find that fun and come back for more... There's a very clear difference.
 

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Individual dogs find different things aversive. Jack doesn't like being on his back, basically ever. He'll play, and he'll take the odd tummy rub, but he just doesn't like being there, no matter what or two whom. Thud plays on his back, especially with Molly, a TON. He flops onto back for belly rubs, constantly.

...I can almost guarantee you that if a stranger tried to force him down onto his back he'd be extremely, extremely, uncomfortable with it. Would he bite? Probably not, but he'd fight going down hard, and he sure as heck wouldn't relax while he was down there. He'd be miserable.

But if the same stranger just said hey, want to play? and kind of shoved him around for a minute and baby talked at him he'd end up on his back for that same tummy rub, and stay there for a long time - or come back to it pretty frequently. It's just a different circumstance, KWIM?
 

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all my dogs have buddied up with their most trusted buddies and practiced their fighting skills which is heavy on the alpha roll. To brush, health inspect or tummy rub all the dogs easily will roll over for me.. again trusted interaction and not in harms way. I have only Alpha rolled one dog in correction mode and when I did it I was ready to fight to the death on the very spot (one of us was not going to make it) and I didn't care if it wasn't going to be me I would of given a good fight for it) wasn't a premeditated move, I was going to tap to distract an on coming dog pounce and the dog turned for me.. sorry I just lost it ... Willing to die on the spot with a 96lb GSD was very believable there was only one way out and it was to finish me "now", The look on his face was total shock and that he didn't want none of it.. After that no hard feelings for a life time... There is no way I could muster that intensity at will just to do it... no dog has put me in that situation except for the one lol ...

adding there was on other time and that was the llama raced up behind me in fighting mode and I took him down like a steer.. again reflex and self preservation kicked in...
 

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A dog choosing to go on its back in play (or easily lets itself be shoved over) is a dog who is secure and feels safe and is playing.

A dog who is forced onto its back thinks it is going to die.

I jump off a high dive that I swam out to myself, I'm playing and it's cool and fun. Someone shoves me playfully off a dock while I'm swimming and rough housing with them, also cool and fun.

Someone tries to drag me up onto the board against my will and shove me off, I'm not having fun; I'm afraid and going to fight them. Someone pushes me off a dock when I'm fully dressed and, especially if I don't know them, I am not playing; I'm TICKED OFF.

Context MATTERS.
I could not have said it better myself.

Individual dogs also matter. Lars is an overly confident dog....he truly believes nothing is a threat to him. So, he will allow himself to expose his underside in play, like here with a 12 week old Ocean.



He will allow me to roll him over on his back to do body checks or to rub his belly. I was able to teach him Roll Over by maneuvering him around. If I were to dare attempt a true alpha roll with him....I would be profusely bleeding faster than I would say "Alpha Roll."

Ocean likes to sleep like this:



Ocean is not as confident as Lars is. He will not allow me to maneuver him onto his back without loudly voicing his displeasure. He never exposes his underside (even to puppies) in play with female dogs. He doesn't play with males. I couldn't even try to imagine the fight if I tried to truly alpha roll him....I would be mauled and on my way to the ER. Seriously.
 

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Play and an attack are different. And generally the dog can feel the difference.
Diesel liked to be shoved over and have his neck shaken. To him, that was all play.
Aleu, however, didn't. To her, it was scary and an aggressive expression.

Like Cpt said, context matters.
 

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Yeah the issue isn't that dogs roll on their backs. Mia loves being carried on her back like a baby. She loves gentle belly rubs from me. Hank rolls over constantly. He greets dogs and people that way. People because he wants a belly rub lol. I also have shoved him down in play and its nothing. But it's not an 'alpha roll'
 

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I guess it's like using a spray bottle, some dogs will find that very aversive, others will be find that fun and come back for more... There's a very clear difference.
I don't think this is a good comparison. At least in play it's true - some dogs like being rolled on their back in play and some do not.

But for an alpha roll, used as a correction, no dogs like it. They may lay there and take it and throw appeasement signals, or they might bite you. But done in the way CM and others do it I don't think any dog would think you were playing.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
so the play version is a sign of relaxation and confidence . . .

... Willing to die on the spot with a 96lb GSD was very believable there was only one way out and it was to finish me "now", The look on his face was total shock and that he didn't want none of it.. After that no hard feelings for a life time... There is no way I could muster that intensity at will just to do it... no dog has put me in that situation except for the one lol ...

adding there was on other time and that was the llama raced up behind me in fighting mode and I took him down like a steer.. again reflex and self preservation kicked in...
Been there, too. I once did a flying tackle on a bull breed X who had another dog by the throat and was beginning the shake and tear the throat out maneuver. It worked remarkably well. Having someone twice your weight land on your back seems to work as a behavior check. In hindsight, a stupid, dangerous thing to do . . . but it saved the second dog's life, and, fortunately, the aggressor didn't turn on me. Adrenalin is a remarkable chemical!
 

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so the play version is a sign of relaxation and confidence . . .


Been there, too. I once did a flying tackle on a bull breed X who had another dog by the throat and was beginning the shake and tear the throat out maneuver. It worked remarkably well. Having someone twice your weight land on your back seems to work as a behavior check. In hindsight, a stupid, dangerous thing to do . . . but it saved the second dog's life, and, fortunately, the aggressor didn't turn on me. Adrenalin is a remarkable chemical!
Yes Adrenalin is a remarkable chemical.. and as it was said in the forced correction mode, non of the dogs will take it as playing... their Adrenalin is going to kick in and go into self preservation mode too.
 

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I've seen it used as an apology. Two dogs playing. Dog A goes a little too far with Dog B. B growls, "hey, stop that, I don't like it!" Dog A rolls onto his back. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you!" Dog A licks Dog B's face, all is forgiven, they go back to playing.

To put it in human terms, if my husband and I were teasing each other and he said something that upset me, I'd tell him that was too far and he would hug me and say he was sorry. If a total stranger bumped into me on the Metro and then hugged me to apologize, I would freak right out and scream for help.
 

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I agree with Bellapup, that if you play roll a roughhousing dog, they like that you play ... on their terms. I've also noticed an attachment from dogs, when I throw answering calming signals at them, for example yawning (with pupsqueak) at a dog that is bored/anxious [but not fearful/anxious]. I guess I reflecting their feelings back to them :)
 

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I think hes a crock and no one should follow anything he says since hes NOT a real trainer.
 
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