beagle rolling over
© Pixabay

How to teach a dog to roll over

By Dawn Parrish Content Writer

Updated on the

Wouldn’t it be great if your dog could do a party trick? You can always teach your dog to roll over at your command.

Have you ever seen a cute dog roll over in front of your eyes? It’s even more amazing if they can do it to their master’s command. Of course, you can’t train a tiny puppy to do this trick but if your dog is already motivated and keen to learn new tasks, it should be quite easy. Teaching this trick will have to be done step by step, but with some patience and a lot of dog treats, your dog will be the coolest of them all thanks to this fun trick.

What to do before you train your dog to roll over

First of all, your dog needs to understand how to sit and lie down when you ask him to. It will take your dog a little while to understand and master ‘roll over’. However, with patience and perseverance and of course a few doggy treats, your pet will soon get the hang of things. Some dog owners use the “clicker” method of training their dogs and certainly, this can be used when you teach your dog to roll over.

First steps to train your dog to roll over

It’s best to choose a soft landing for your dog to lie on. Make sure that there aren’t any other distractions or your pooch just won’t be interested. Finally, a handful of treats will certainly help to complete this task. Even more important, is to break the training session down into smaller sections and practice at the dog park. The first attempt you will probably discover that your dog will jump up, or that he will wiggle around. It’s a very clever dog that can master this trick in one go.

Dog playing and wriggling around © Pixabay

Practice the movements

  1. Kneel on the floor and ask your dog to sit and to move into a “down” position in front of you. Lure him with a treat held in your hand in front of his nose.
  2. With the treat still in your hand, roll your hand over the dog’s nose and move the treat towards his shoulder keeping your palm downwards.
  3. Your pet’s nose will sniff and follow the treat but by doing so, he should be off-balance and flip over onto his side. This is when he should get rewarded with his treat and lots of praise.
  4. Repeat this action and at the same time continue to keep moving your hand over the dog’s body. This will cause the dog to flip over so that he is lying on his other side. Of course, when this roll-over action is complete, a second treat is required.
  5. Practice this routine several times. Hopefully, your dog will grasp the movement and roll straight over in one move. Once they get the picture, you can combine it with the command “roll over”. After a few more attempts and plenty of treats, your dog should understand the routine and should roll over just to your command, without any hands-on assistance. If he finds it difficult to complete ‘roll-over’ in one movement, break it down into smaller sections.  

How to train your dog to roll over – troubleshooting section

If your dog is making mistakes during this practice session, such as turning his head the other way or wanting to jump up, things could be confusing him. Likewise, you could be taking things too quickly. Consequently, go back to the point where your dog seemed to struggle and go from there. You can then build the training up slowly until he can manage a full body rotation.

If your dog refuses to roll over

Many dogs can be unwilling to even just lie on their backs or to show their tummies. If this is the case, first of all, ensure that your pet knows that you’re just engaging in playtime. Tickle his belly and give him a tummy rub, then offer him a treat. Stay calm and speak lightly and positively to your dog. He will soon adapt and be willing to lie down on his back. When you try to teach your dog to roll over, above all keep these sessions short and cheery. Keep to a maximum time limit of 10 minutes because your dog will soon tire. Certainly end each training period with a positive affirmation and of course, a treat.

A complete dog roll over - no treat required © Pixabay

When to add the “Roll Over” command

It is important to add the “roll over” verbal cue only once your dog has mastered the complete action and consistently rolls over during training. Don’t be tempted to add this verbal cue the moment he begins to do the body rolls. He will associate the words with an incomplete task and this will only confuse him. Only when he reliably performs a full body roll should you add the ‘roll over’ command before each roll. He will then associate the command with a completed body rotation. Likewise, remember that this will take more than one training session to master.

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