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How to Teach Your Dog to Roll Over

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Just like the Play Dead command, teaching your dog to roll over is not a completely necessary trick like “Stay” but a very funny and playful one.

Before we start training your dog the new command, he should be already knowing the command down and sit which will make it a lot easier.

If you haven’t taught this already, I have mentioned the steps below. Grab some delicious and healthy treats for your dog, like these.

Or if you prefer to rather praise your dog verbally, with a clicker or a toy, this will work just the same.

How to Teach a Dog to Lie Down

If your dog already knows this command then you can simply jump to the next step. The command lie down is very helpful for this trick and for many other commands out there.

Get plenty of treats and start in a low distractive environment like your living room.

If you are afraid that your dog might get hurt when sliding down on wooden floor then you can always lay a blanket or mat under him.

This will make the process much more comfortable for him.

  • Start by showing him that you have treats in your hand. You can already reward him once you have his attention.
  • Get him into a sit position and hold the treat tight between your fingers close to your dog’s nose.
  • Slowly lower your hand with the treat so your dog slides into a lie-down position. Wherever you lure the nose, the body will follow.
  • Once his front paws are fully on the ground, you can reward him.
  • Add the cue “down” after a few times and always praise with treats.

Once you have repeated the steps from above and your dog had a few successful downs in a row then you can gradually fade out the luring and only give him a treat when he completed the command.

Now you are ready to get into the roll over trick.

5 Steps to Train Your Dog to Roll Over

Step in a quiet and nondistractive room in your house to better get your dog’s focus on training.

For this trick you will have to move close to the ground, so crouch down for every step.

  1. Get your dog into a down position with his head and paws on the ground and hold up a treat close to his nose to the side of his head. Make sure to hold the treat tight so he cannot snatch it from between your fingers.
  2. Move your hand (palm facing downwards) towards his shoulder, so his head follows the treat.
  3. Lure him until he rolls onto his side with the head on the floor and praise him for that move. Great you finished the first part!
  4. For the second part, you will take it further by luring him until he rolls onto his back by moving the treat from his shoulder towards his back. Reward him with plenty of praise.
  5. After each successful and complete rollovers, you can then add the verbal cue “roll over” in a happy voice, accompanied by treats.
  6. Repeat the process a few times and gradually reduce the hand movement.
  7. In the end, you will be able to just sit in front of him and give the command “roll over” with a slight hand gesture.

If your dog has problems with that and stands up or wiggles around in between then you will have to split up the process in smaller parts where you treat for every little step.

Split up each step into two parts and praise for the head turn as well as for him laying on his side.

It doesn’t have to look perfect in the beginning. Reward every effort from your dog.

You can also help him with your free hand by gently grabbing one of his front paws and using it to rotate him in the right direction.

Fading Out the Treats

After many successful rollovers, you can then start to slowly fade out the treats.

Make your hand movement more subtle every time and see if your dog is able to roll over immediately.

If you have trained each step well, your dog probably won’t have a problem with it.

But if he doesn’t know what you want from him then start again at the beginning and provide him with more hand movement and treat luring.

You will want to take it even slower to set him up for success each time.

You don’t have to treat always as a reward. Start by giving him treats every second time then every fourth time until the verbal praise will be the only reward.

Of course, you can still occasionally treat your dog.

Adding Distraction

Once your dog has perfected “roll over” in the training room then you can step outside to ensure that your dog will be able to perform the trick anywhere.

Start with a low distractive environment like your backyard or any enclosed area.

Let him sniff around and if you haven’t trained him a recall yet, you can attach a long leash to get him back to you.

Let him perform the trick a few times and give him the same treats as before to praise him in the new environment.

If your dog can do the trick easily in your backyard then you can go into more distractive places like the dog park or public areas with other people.

If he fails too often then you will have to take a step back to ensure that he doesn’t get confused.

Problems that May Occur

Rollover is a trick that is not so easy to train compared to a simple command like sit.

In the beginning, my dog used to turn her head the wrong way or standing up because I moved the treat too quickly.

Make sure to always take baby steps to avoid failure as much as possible.

It is always important to make training fun for your dog to encourage him to actually like performing the commands which will lead to a faster and more reliable result.

If your dog refuses to roll over or seems bored or tired, then end the training and try again later or the next day.

Always pay attention to your dog’s body language. It will tell you how much he enjoys working with you.

Feel free to share your experiences with teaching your dog how to roll over in the comments below!

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About Danielle
I am the founder of PawLeaks where I share weekly tips on dog training and behavior. Sharing a passion for dogs and helping owners to solve problems through understanding canine behavior and modification is my number one goal.