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How to Teach a Dog to Roll Over

dog lying on the grass looking at the camera

Fact checked by a Hello Ralphie expert veterinarian

After teaching a dog how to sit, stay, and lay down on command, the next movement most dog owners want to teach their furry friend is how to roll over.

Even though it looks like a fairly complicated trick, roll over is a simple movement and command. If you are looking to teach your dog this cute and fun trick, we can help.

We will explain when you should begin training your dog to roll over and go over some things you should keep in mind before you get started. From there, we will list the simple steps you can follow to have your dog rolling over on command!

When Should You Teach Your Dog to Roll Over?

If you have ever owned a puppy, you have probably noticed how short their attention spans can be. Puppies are usually very curious and easily distracted; however, they are surprisingly capable when it comes to learning basic obedience commands.

While you can teach a dog some of the more basic commands, such as sit and lay down, at a very young age (8 to 10 weeks), you may need to wait a little longer to teach the roll-over command. Beginning at about 10 to 12 weeks of age should work out fine. Remember, you will need to be patient. You should also remember that older dogs are also very capable, and despite the old saying, you can still teach an older dog new tricks.

beagle dog having fun in summer

Begin After the Dog Knows How to Sit and Lay Down on Command:

Given that roll over is a multi-step trick, training will be much easier if the dog has already mastered the sit and lay down commands. Not only will these commands help you teach your dog how to roll over, but they are also simple commands, so successfully teaching them will build your experience as a trainer and will help familiarize your dog with the training process. Want help with other commands? Learn how to teach a dog to lay down here

Things to Keep in Mind Before You Get Started

No matter how old your dog is, always remain positive and patient during any training session. Dogs do not react well to punishment, so your training efforts should always focus on positive reinforcement and enthusiastic encouragement.

Keep Your Training Sessions Brief and Have Realistic Expectations:

As mentioned, dogs, especially when they are puppies, have relatively short attention spans, which is why it is important to keep your training sessions brief. Ideally, a training session should last somewhere within the 5 to 15-minute range. Do not worry if your dog does not learn how to roll over right away. You can always keep at it over multiple training sessions. Just make sure you always end things on a positive note, ensuring your dog does not become discouraged.

If your dog is struggling, you should still end the training session with plenty of praise and a reward. Again, positive reinforcement goes a long way. Consider going over a command they already know, such as lay down, then reward it. Ending on a positive note will make sure your dog associates training with fun, and they will be much more excited and enthusiastic about your next training session. Remember, training should be fun rather than intimidating and confusing.

Determine Your Reward System:

Patience and positivity are essential, but for most dogs, obvious rewards, like treats, are really helpful motivational tools during training. Set aside some healthy and desirable treats that your dog enjoys.

You can also use a favorite toy as a reward if you are raising your dog without treats. Whatever reward system you use, make sure you are consistent. That way, your dog associates that reward with positive behavior and properly following commands.

Steps for Teaching Your Dog to Roll Over

Step 1 – Start by giving your dog the “lay down” command. As you may have guessed, your dog needs to lay down to roll over, which is why you should teach your dog how to sit and lay down first.

Step 2 – Once your dog is laying down, hold its favorite treat out in front of its nose. Once the dog has acknowledged the treat, move it from the dog’s face towards its shoulder. Your dog will most likely turn its head to follow the treat.

Step 3 – If the dog has turned its head to follow the treat, pull it closer to the ground and further behind the shoulder. The dog will most likely flop over to its side to follow the treat.

Step 4 – Pull the treat all the way around, so the dog has to roll over to follow it. Once the dog completes the full circle, provide praise and give the dog the treat. It is fairly simple to get a dog to complete the roll once it is on its back, so getting to that point is a major achievement.

black puppy rolls over

What to Do if Your Dog Will Not Perform the Full Movement:

If your dog will not perform the rolling movement smoothly, you can break it down into smaller parts and reward each successful movement. For example, when the dog turns its head towards the shoulder during Step 2, provide a treat. Provide a second treat when the dog lays on its side.

Remember, patience and positive reinforcement are essential. Do not allow yourself to get frustrated.

Adding the Roll Over Command:

To prevent confusion, you should begin loudly and clearly adding the command once the dog can successfully perform the full roll in one movement. Provide a treat each time it performs the trick when you give the command. Keep practicing until the command triggers the trick. Slowly reduce the number of times you offer a treat until you get to a point where your dog will roll over on command without the expectation of a treat.

More Tips for Puppy Owners

If you have recently added a new puppy to your family, our list of New Puppy Tips can be beneficial.

You can also reach out to one of our qualified online veterinarians if you have any questions about training or anything else related to your new puppy. Virtual vet appointments are a great way to make sure your furry friend is happy and healthy, so make a vet appointment today if you need assistance.

Book a virtual veterinarian appointment and talk to a vet online with Hello Ralphie today, and you can speak with a vet from the comfort of your own home!

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