(I have been away for a very long time, for which I apologize! Life -- and Nellie -- have gotten in the way.)
I know the risks and consequences of an "alpha roll", so I'm not asking about if I should do one or not. However, on the advice of MANY breeders, including my own, my puppy's behavior has escalated to such that they absolutely recommend flipping her on her back -- not in an aggressive, stand over the dog type way, but simply scooping them over with the hand on the chest until they stop struggling.
Nellie has never been the obedient type, not even as a small pup, and she definitely acts like she knows how to get away with stuff, even though I watch her like a hawk and verbally correct her (physically enforcing with body block, if need be). At the risk of humanizing her, I would go as far as to say that she simply doesn't respect me. She's SO independent that 99 out of 100 times she would stay far away from me unless if I have something she wants, in which case she will try to bark at me, jump on me, and do anything to get it out of my hands, and if I body block her she will growl at me. I do NILIF for EVERYTHING since the day she learned sit (going outside, food, water, treats, toys) and it's the same story. When she doesn't comply I don't reward her, but she doesn't care. At certain times, when she does obey, she does it veeeeery slowly and reluctantly. She's not at all praise motivated, not very food motivated and only somewhat toy motivated.
Has anyone else ever had a corgi this standoffish and stubborn who actually improved with the flipping maneuver? Or did NILIF eventually pay off, and how long did it take?
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I had sold an Alaskan Malamute puppy to a family many years ago, when the book by the Monks of New Skeet (who started this Alpha Roll business) had just come out. Most Malamutes are strong, independent, smart dogs and she was no exception. By the time she was 7 months old they returned the dog, saying she had bitten their child and was a dangerous, untrainable dog. When they brought her back ( full of fleas...) they said they had repeatedly used this alpha roll technique with her, but she had just gotten worse. After having her myself for a couple of months and working with her in a more knowledgeable way, she was sold to a young couple, both medical doctors, with three very young children, and lived out her life with them as a cherished part of their family, to the age of 12 yrs.
What I recommend is a good professional trainer to help you turn around the do-it-yourself approach that is not working. It can be worth spending money on a few private lessons, provided you find a qualified trainer.
I agree with Anna, if you have some money look into working one on one at home with Nellie. I hope you are able to work this out and get Nellie to be a little more cooperative!
Spend the $ on an experienced trainer! It sounds as if she is ruling the roost and needs someone with the ability to correct these behaviors. A strong willed dog needs someone with the experience to time their corrections properly and to know when to use praise. She may feel that no one even likes her so sees no reason to respond. A good trainer will help you get her on the right track so you can work with her. It is a very fine line to walk when training a very smart dog.
What is your breeders reasoning for flipping her on her back? How old is she? In young a puppy I can see the value of laying them on their back in your arms (sort of how you are describing) and teaching them to relax and not struggle but if she is already close to adulthood I see no way that this is going to help things. If done wrong you are only going to escalate the issue and add fear to an already dominant dog, who then may resort to aggression to get what she wants. I would hire a trainer, either puppy classes or a private trainer to get her back on track. Corgis are too smart for their own good and she has probably picked up on subtle signals that you don't even know you are giving and learned how to take charge of situations. A trainer will help point out any of these signals and put you back in charge but in a manner that will benefit both you and her.
Both breeders' reasoning is that she's getting "out of line", does not respect me as a leader, etc. My breeder has gone as far as saying I am a pushover and that's why Nellie is the way she is. Right now she's 6 months. I've done handling exercises with her on her back in my lap (she struggles, of course, and then pants and acts like I am hurting her) but not a roll or scruff hold on the ground. I have seen a trainer do a scruff hold on her once (WITHOUT my permission, I may add) and after barking and growling she screamed the most frightening scream I've ever heard come out of her. After that Nellie seemed to "respect her", but in a sort of, "I am incredibly afraid of you" way.
Yes, definitely getting a trainer. I don't believe in alpha rolls either.
That's the danger, to get a trainer that makes things worse and for a price..... such as the one you experienced. Here are a couple of links you can check to see if there is anyone in your general area you could go to:
Being the human leader is not about dominating the dog, it's about creating a bond, setting clearly understood (by the dog) reasonable rules and patterns of behavior and mostly it's about the human learning how to go about doing those things. The learning experience should be pleasant and rewarding for both.
When you have her on her back and she starts acting like you are hurting her, do you let her up? If so, don't. Make her stay in that position until she is completely calm, then praise and let her up. If you are scared you are hurting her, you're not. Corgi's are manipulative (most dogs are), and drama will get them the results they crave. If she struggles and manages to make it up without your permission, do it again until she submits. The issue really isn't whether to do an alpha roll or not, the issue is that the dog has to know that you mean business, and what you say goes. It's about your whole attitude towards them. Consistency is key, as well as your attitude. Dogs can sense if you don't really mean it, or are scared...and if you emit that, then they aren't going to listen. You can't rationalize with a dog, it's not a human. Watch dogs interact, the highest has a way of carrying themselves, and their body language alone is enough to make the weaker dog back off. Just a stare even. If you study how dogs interact, you can learn how to come across like they do, even without touching them. I don't beat my dogs, never have. Have never once hurt any of them physically. But they all respect me...you have to talk like a dog.
She's never that "calm" when she's in my lap. At best she kind of tilts her head and pants (like how dogs pant when they are unsure or scared) and she will relax for a bit then keep struggling. I let her down when she's the most relaxed but she's not like some dogs who would just plain fall asleep in that posture. I would also never come to blows with a dog -- that's just plain dumb. Nellie doesn't respect me enough to be afraid of me, anyway -- which is why an alpha roll doesn't sound like a good idea. She would definitely choose to fight to the death and run away rather than submit.
I highly suggest people should stop doing the alpha roll. I did it once because I was lost on what to do when Napolean snapped at other dogs. The result was more snapping and distrust as he saw me as a threat. All I want to say to people trying to train their dogs is get him/her to trust you. Trust, trust, trust. That's all I can say. Make yourself the center of your corgis life so they depend on you for everything. Its easy since dogs naturally need a leader to look up to ;) Good luck with Nellie!
Yes. I have, and it works. Usually only takes once. I also do the NILF in adjunction to the alpha roll...in my experience, if a dog is that stubborn (and not ALL are), until the dog knows you mean business, the attitude will continue.