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How to Teach a Dog to Roll-Over – Step By Step Guide

brown french bulldog puppy lying on yellow textile

“Roll-Over” is an adorable trick that is easy and amusing to teach your dog. Before you start this trick, your dog should be able to down on command. While it may seem slightly challenging to teach your dog to roll over, you can usually teach this trick fairly quickly with our step-by-step guide.

How Long Will It Take to Teach Your Dog to Roll-Over?

All dogs learn at a different pace. Highly food motivated dogs can learn to roll-over in a session or two and other dogs may take a bit more time. Keep training sessions upbeat and end the session if your dog seems frustrated, tired, or bored. Always try to end sessions on a positive note, even if that means switching to a simpler action like “sit” or “down” as the last thing you do. Long practice sessions are tiring for both you and your dog, so keep them to around 10 minutes or less to make learning easy and fun.

Tools needed and Planning for the Training Session

Choose a Food Reward: Choose something that your dog enjoys; the more appealing the treat, the easier it will be to train your dog. Because the main way to teach the roll-over to your dog is luring, treats that have a strong, enticing smell are the best. The best treats are those that your dog enjoys, which are also easy to carry, split into bits, and nutritious. 

Marker Training: You should use a “marker” to tell your dog that they have done something correctly. Since the clicker produces a clear, distinct sound that is consistent, it is very effective. If you don’t have a clicker, you can also use a verbal marker such as “yes” or “good.”

Pick a Cue: Choose  a word to be your dog’s command to down – we will use  “roll-over” as our verbal cue for the rest of this article but feel free to pick any word. As always, best practice is to make sure it doesn’t sound too similar to another command you use with your dog or your dog’s name.

Steps to Teach Your Dog to Roll Over

Step 1: Start from the down position and introduce the treat

Ask your dog to “down” in front of you. Get down on knees beside your dog and hold a small, tasty treat to the side of their head near the nose. 

Step 2: Lure your dog to lay flat on their side

Move your hand from their nose toward their shoulder, luring them to roll flat on their side. Once they are flat on their side, mark (clicker or verbal) and reward. Repeat this a few times.

Step 3: Complete the Roll-Over

With your dog lying on its side, move your hand (with treat in it), from their shoulder to their backbone. This should cause them to roll onto their back. Continue moving the treat hand, so they roll onto the other side. 

Step 4: Introduce the Cue and remove the treat lure

When they consistently follow the treat all the way around in a “rollover,” add the verbal cue “Roll-Over,” right before you start luring them with the treat to roll-over. Gradually reduce the hand motion and treat lure until your dog can perform the trick on just a verbal cue. Mark and reward when your dog completes the roll-over!

Step 5: Generalize and Proof

As always, the last step is to generalize the behavior in different environments and when there are distractions (especially other people). After all the whole reason we taught roll-over trick was to show off!

Pro Tips and Troubleshooting

Don’t move too quickly

If your dog is making a lot of mistakes, such as jumping up or turning its head in the opposite direction, you may be moving too quickly. Go back to the last step your dog was performing well, and start to build back up to a full roll over slowly.

Your dog is resistant to laying on their back

Some dogs may be uneasy showing their belly. Make sure your dog knows that this is all fun and games by being gentle in your approach. Be excited and happy and reward your dog for even small progress! Refrain from using corrections. Sometimes this can be harder to fix quickly – in that case it can require more time spent building your bond with your dog. Don’t be discouraged! When you finally get there, it will be that much sweeter!

Your dog doesn’t follow the treat

Since we use luring to teach the roll-over, it is important to use a treat that your dog loves and can easily be smelled through your hand. Make sure to let your dog get a good whiff of the treat before beginning so that they know what’s coming. Another strategy could be to do your training sessions right at / before meal time so that your pup is hungrier and more food motivated than they might be at other points in the day.

Check out this video which walks you step by step at how to teach your dog how to roll over:

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