How To Teach A Dog To Roll Over: The Best Method

Teaching your dog tricks has numerous benefits, aside from being a lot of fun. Research has shown that showing your dogs how to perform new tricks acts as a bonding exercise, promoting mental health and well-being which also helps prevent them from having canine cognitive dysfunction.

Think of it as a school for your dog! Instead of going to a classroom, though, they get to spend the day with you learning how to do a fun new skill. People frequently want to know how to teach a dog to roll over because it's one of the cool dog tricks that most pets can grasp quickly!

However, when it comes to picking this from the dog tricks list, most people aren't sure where to start. Intuitively, it sounds like a relatively easy trick to teach, but it's not immediately apparent what you should do to show this skill to your furry friend. Fortunately, you can show your dog how to roll over with a few easy steps!

First, Your Dog Must Know How To Assume The Down Position

The first aspect of how to teach a dog to roll over is that they need to know a prerequisite trick - the down position. This "trick" is when your dog rests with its stomach down.

Fortunately, this position is relatively easy to teach if you haven't done so already. To show your dog this trick, you'll need some good training treats, so grab those. With those treats, put one in front of your dog's nose. Then, move it towards their chest and down towards the floor. As you move the tasty piece of food, your dog's nose will naturally follow it. With enough practice and patience, eventually, you'll be able to take the treat and get them to assume the down position with it with consistency.

Note that you will not get this behavior right away. It will likely take at least a few short, regular sessions to achieve it. Your dog will probably have some "regressions" where you will see them do well one day and maybe seem uninterested in the next timeframe. That's normal. With enough consistency and regular teaching, you'll eventually get your dog to assume this position regularly by using a treat.

However, that's not quite what you want! Ideally, you wouldn't need a treat every time you need them to lie down. Once your pet knows how to roll over with the food treat, then it's time to begin transitioning away from food that encourages them to go down and, instead, make it the word "down."

To accomplish this goal, when your dog follows the treat, begin to say the word "down," when they're near the floor. Practice this in the same regular, short intervals. Eventually, your dog will pick up that you say the word "down" and treat them as they go to the floor. At this time, you should be able to reverse the order and say "down," and the dog will go down in anticipation of a tasty treat. Do this a few times, taking care to continue providing the dog with the food.

Periodically, say the word "down" while not giving food. Decrease the food frequency until you can tell your dog "down," and your pet will assume the position without any treats required!

How To Teach A Dog To Roll Over: The Next Step

With your pet now understanding the prerequisite for this cool trick to teach your dog, you can now show them how to roll over!

First, put your dog in the down position. Next, kneel beside your dog and hold a treat to the side of its nose. Move the piece of food from its nose to its shoulder. This motion will force your pet to go on its side. Practice this motion a few times and accompany it with praise. Make sure you start saying "roll over," so your pet begins to associate this phrase with the trick.

Once your dog has this motion down, move the treat from the shoulder to the backbone. This movement will cause your dog to go on its back. Much like the motion above, continue this for a few times and add praise.

Eventually, your dog will execute this motion flawlessly. Keep extending your arm over its underside to encourage your dog to roll over completely. 

With enough persistence, you will gradually remove the treat and get your dog to roll over on verbal command instead!

It's One Of The Easier Tricks Dogs Can Do

Despite the trick's perception, it's one of the more straightforward skills that dogs can learn. The key is to have some persistence and not give up before your pet has thoroughly mastered the trick!

Once your dog learns it, though, there's a fantastic chance that you and your dog will bond over it, and your dog will love to delight you with their newfound talent!

Why Do Dogs Roll Over?

Naturally, dogs roll over to show trust. It shows their owner that they trust them not to cause any harm. When your dog rolls over, you can give them a nice belly rub to make them feel loved and appreciated!

How To Train Your Dog To Roll Over Without Treats?

It's challenging to train your dog to roll over without treats. The treat is what gets them to make the movements that they do, reinforcing the behavior. They want the food, so they make the movements you ask to get it. However, it's not impossible to train your dog to roll over without treats. You can use a toy or object that they follow and love. When they do the movements you want, you can give them the toy with which to play. Depending on the dog, this method of training may or may not work, but if you cannot or do not want to give your pet some treats, you can try it out!

Can Rolling Over Hurt Your Dog?

No. The act of rolling over will not hurt your dog. However, as with any physical activity, doing a roll in a problematic way may cause a muscle cramp or injury (like rolling over onto a sharp object). Therefore, you should always ensure the ground is clean and clear before requesting your dog to perform the trick!

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Written by Leo Roux

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