Helping a Santa Monica Family Who’s Puppy Got Confrontational After an Alpha Roll

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 26, 2017

Chuvvy is a six-month-old Bernese Mountain Dog who lives in Santa Monica. His guardians set up a puppy training session with me after he pushed back when one of them tried to give him an alpha roll. They asked me to help him be more obedient and listen to their commands and corrections.

Chuvvy did a little bit of low grumbling and growling when I arrived for the session which tells me he is a little unsure about new guests in his home and that he feel at least partially responsible for security of the pack. I pulled a little something out of my bag to harness the power of positive reinforcement and help make friends with him while I shared a few tips with his guardian.

The catalyst for this session was Chuvvy mouthing his guardian’s arm when she attempted to alpha roll him. For those who are not familiar with the term, an alpha roll is where you put a dog on its back and pin them down until they submit. The guardian did this because they are first time dog guardians and another Bernese guardian recommended the technique.

As anyone who follows me online knows I do not practice dominance theory or use force-centric methods when working with dogs. While its possible to force a smaller dog into submission, its obviously something done against the dog’s will and an unpleasant experience for the dog. But when you have a large or giant breed dog, there will come a day when you are no longer physically able to restrain or dominate the dog. Obviously that day came with Chuvvy so Im glad I was able to get this session scheduled so quickly.

One of the reasons I avoid force and dominant methods as the dog only listens due to fearing a reprisal which means when the dog is loose, the chances of it listening when you disagree with its actions fall somewhere between slim and none.

I always want the dog to do the work which is another reason I use a force free dog training and behavior approach. Using positive dog training allows you to communicate what you do and don’t want from the dog so you and your furry friend are all on the same page. In fact, if a dog loves, trusts and respects you, its number one priority is “how can I make the human happy?”

I shared a number of puppy training tips and puppy behavior secrets with Chivvy’s guardians as we covered puppy obedience, basic puppy commands, how to effectively communicate what they want from their dog and ways to disagree without using force or dominance theory.

By the end of the session, Chuvvy was listening better, following commands and the humans seemed much more comfortable with these positive dog training methods and the results they were producing in this lovable teddy bear of a dog.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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