Today I’m going to show you a step by step guide for how to teach a dog to roll over. This is a great trick that is fun to show your family and friends and will help strengthen your bond with your dog. This trick also demonstrates a great deal of trust that your dog has in you. When I say that, I mean that when your dog rolls over, he is exposing his belly to you, which is a very submissive position, which he would not show you if he didn’t trust you greatly.
Before We Get Started
You should try to find a quiet place to train that is free from distractions. Your dog should also have a reliable Down Command before attempting to teach him to roll over. I also recommend having a clicker and a handful of training treats to use for leading and rewarding. The biggest thing to bring to the training session is patience. Rolling over is not an easy trick to learn, and if you get frustrated easily, it will hurt your dog’s confidence and take him even longer to learn the trick. Lastly, decide on what sort of hand signal and verbal command you want to use. Personally, I use the command “Over!” and my hand signal is a horizontal, counterclockwise “wax-on” motion above my dog’s head. My palm is also flat similar to my Down hand signal.
Steps for Teaching a Dog to Roll Over
The steps for teaching a dog to roll over are actually very simple; it’s the execution that is challenging.
- Give your dog a Down command.
- Hold a treat in front of his nose and move the treat down the side of his body toward his back hip, keeping the treat near the ground. His instinct is going to be to stand up to follow the treat. If that happens, say “No” and then start again at step 1. If it continues to be a problem after several attempts, you can place your free hand above his back and gently hold him down so he cannot stand up.
- As you move the treat toward his back hip, say “Roll Over”; the desired reaction is for the dog to roll over to lay on his side to continue to follow the treat. As soon as he rolls to his side, bring the treat up and over his chest, so he can continue rolling over to follow the treat.
- Once he fully rolls over, you can click your clicker and reward him with a treat. Be sure to heap on the praise.
- Repeat from the beginning until you have a reliable Roll Over command.
There you have it! Like I said, the steps are pretty easy and straight forward, but the execution can be tricky. Remember to be patient.
Advanced Roll Over
As your dog gets better at rolling over on verbal command, start introducing your hand signal and stop leading him with a treat. You can also start to introduce distractions, increase distance between yourself and the dog while giving the command, and make him hold the down position for a longer duration after rolling over before rewarding him with the treat.
For more help, check out this video demonstration from Stephen McKay and “Scorch” the Border Collie from Port Chester Obedience Training Club: