How to teach a dog to roll over

‘Roll over’ is one of the fun and common tricks dogs can learn easily. Your dog must learn other basic commands before starting to teach him to roll over as this trick has several steps to mastering it. However, with patience and affection, your dog is sure to roll over in no time. So, how do you teach a dog to roll over?

I began teaching my dog tricks as soon as he was one year old. From playing dead to giving his paw to spinning, I could not wait until he had them all under his belt.

One of the harder tricks he learned was rolling over. Luckily, he already knew to ‘sit,’ ‘stay’ and to ‘stay down,’ making it easy for him to understand rolling over.

Here are a few steps on how to teach a dog to roll over.

dog lying on back

Begin in a ‘down’ position

Start by asking your dog to lie down. If your dog is not familiar with this command, pick a soft surface, such as a carpeted area or a bed, to ensure they do not injure themselves, which in turn boosts their confidence.

Kneel in front of your dog and begin by asking him to sit. Take a treat in your hand and make sure he sees it. Allow him to lick and sniff it, while you lower your hand slowly and bring your palm closer to you.

As soon as he lies down, give him the treat, and praise him.

Once the trick is familiar to him, remove the treat from the exercise and say ‘down’ as you lower your hand towards the ground. Be sure to reward them for good behavior.

Get the dog to lean on his side

As the dog is in a ‘down’ position, kneel beside him while holding a treat in your hand. Once you have his attention, move the treat from his nose to his shoulder.

If he follows it, it is likely he will be lying on his side with his head down. If this is true, give him the treat and repeat this step about five times to ensure he knows why he receives the reward.

dog leaning on his side

Make him lie on his back

As the dog is on his side, move the treat in your hand, past his shoulder, and towards his backbone, down to the ground. He should follow the treat, causing him to roll over.

As you do this, add the command ‘roll over.’ Do not be discouraged if he does not get it right the first time. Teaching a dog tricks requires patience, love, effort, and time.

Keep repeating and practicing until he gets it right. Always praise and reward him whenever he tries to do it.

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Remove the treat

Once your furry friend knows how to roll over on command, you can begin going through all the steps without using the delicious treat. Go through the exact steps as you move your hand just as you did before.

The only difference is that you will not be holding a treat in your hand. However, do not stop showing him affection and praising him every time he gets it right.

No more hand movements

Once you have taught him the command and what it means, you can now give him the verbal cue without doing any hand movements.

Give him some time to process what you are saying and wait patiently for a response. If he does not respond, go back and repeat the previous step until they understand what you mean.

Final word

‘Rolling over’ requires a lot of practice for your canine friend to master it completely. Make sure you keep your voice fun and light. If you notice you are getting agitated, take a deep breath, and relax or postpone the training to later on in the day.

Keep training sessions short, for about 10 minutes each, twice a day. Some dogs may not feel comfortable lying on their backs.

If your furry companion enjoys belly rubs, scratch its belly and praise or use the clicker whenever he lies on his back. Ensure the training session is light and positive. 

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