If you have a dog, you’ve probably taught it basic obedience commands like “sit” or “stay”. But what about teaching your dog fun tricks that will impress your family and friends? This article will show you how to teach your dog to roll over on command.
Before you begin your training, decide what type of reward you’ll use to motivate your dog. Does your dog especially like to eat a specific treat or play with a special toy? Whatever it is, make sure you have this reward available for every training session so that you build consistency. This will ensure that your dog is always motivated to perform the trick when you issue the command.
Next, evaluate your dog’s current obedience skills. Does he already know how to sit and lay down on command? If not, teaching your dog to roll over will take more time because you won’t be able to utilize those two commands during your training sessions. It is recommended that your dog at least know how to sit on command before trying to teach him to roll over.
The Training Session
- Get your dog into a sitting position. If your dog knows the “sit” command, use that; if he doesn’t, gently push his hindquarters down into a seated position and give him a treat.
- Have your dog lay down in a sphinx-like position. If your dog knows the “down” command, use that; otherwise gently hold his hindquarters down while you hold a treat on the ground a few inches in front of his face. This will usually get the dog to walk his front legs forward into a down position. You want your dog to be facing forward with his weight evenly distributed, not leaning to one side or the other. Once he is in the proper position, give your dog a treat.
- Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose, just out of reach. You want him to be interested in the treat so that he’ll pay close attention to you.
- Slowly move your hand that’s holding the treat clockwise around your dog’s head, parallel to the ground. The dog should follow your hand with his eyes, turning his head around as your hand moves. If he doesn’t, show him the treat again to get him re-focused.
- At first, your dog will probably follow the treat with his eyes until your hand is behind his head and then he’ll swing his head around the other way to visually pick up the treat on the other side. This is easy for the dog to do if you’re holding it at his head level or above. But if you hold the treat closer to the ground, almost touching his back as you move around his head, he’ll continue following your hand with his eyes. Once his head is turned far enough, his weight will naturally shift and he’ll roll onto his back.
- Once your dog has rolled onto his back, continue moving the treat clockwise or otherwise hold the treat to the right of his nose. This will make your dog roll up into a sitting position.
- Once back in sitting position, praise your dog extensively and give him a reward, either a treat or a short play with his favorite toy (whatever reward you previously decided to use).
- Repeat the exercise until your dog consistently follows the treat in your hand into a roll over and then back into a sitting position. Each time the dog completes the rollover, praise him effusively and reward him. You want the dog to be having fun during this training exercise so that he’ll be motivated to do it in the future.
- Once your dog consistently performs the trick, introduce the “roll over” command. First hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose, then say “roll over” and then complete the exercise. You want the dog to begin associating the verbal command with the actual action of rolling over. Repeat this several times, praising your dog at the completion of each rollover.
- After about 5-10 minutes of training, end the session with lots of praise and rewards.
Eventually you won’t need to hold a treat in your hand – you’ll just need to give the “roll over” command and your dog will do the trick. Every dog learns at a different pace, but it will likely take your dog at least ten training sessions before he consistently responds to the “roll over” command without a treat.
If you want your dog to be able to perform the rollover trick no matter where you are, you’ll need to hold your training sessions in a variety of locations. This will get him comfortable rolling over on soft and hard surfaces, inside and outside, alone and with distractions.
Remember, the more consistent and frequent your training schedule, the faster he’ll learn. Just keep practicing and soon enough he’ll begin anticipating the command and rolling over before you even ask!
Catch The Dog In The Act
Have you ever wondered how they train dogs in movies? For example, have you ever seen a dog in a movie yawn, hide their face, or do some other sort of interesting behavior?
Many of these behaviors are taught by ‘catching the dog in the act’. For example, if you hang out with your dog for long enough at some point he’ll yawn. The idea with this method is that as he starts to yawn you tell him ‘yawn’ or some other sort of command. As he does it you reward him with a treat. Catch him in the act enough times and most dogs will learn to do this trick on command.
With training a dog to roll over you can do the same thing. When your dog gets on his back and starts itching back and forth you can tell him ‘roll over’, give him a little nudge or push to help him get all the way over, and then reward him with a treat and praise.
If you do this enough most dogs will soon be rolling over on command.