Our dogs are one of the greatest joys in our lives. We cannot stop obsessing over how cute they look while playing or when they do something silly, and we take a gazillion pictures of them. Oh, and how about when they pull off the cruelest play in the book and shoot us those literal “puppy dog eyes?”
Our innocent-looking furballs can act like masterminds and play around with their box of tricks when they want to. Well, we, their favorites hoomans, can also trick the tricksters by training them into showing-off tricks. Woah. Now, that was a mouthful!
Have you ever seen dog-owners, in parks perhaps, giving out specific instructions and like loyal soldiers, their pupper just follow them instinctively? Dog-tricks are the coolest way to show off your dogs, have a little fun when your friends are around, and can also be used to win at dog pageants.
Our pet dogs are capable of being taught to perform basic commands like sit, down, jump, and others of the same sort. All it takes is a bagful of dog treats, maybe a clicker, and patience… loads of patience. Okay, perhaps it takes a teeny bit more than that. Learn how to teach your dog to roll over, on-demand, with this article written just for you!
To Start Off
It is not easy to teach a new maneuver to our beloved dogs. If you go searching on the internet, you will find a lot of different approaches. As a keeper, it is up to you to figure out what works best and what doesn’t.
Much like children, all pups are different in their own ways, for the same using a clicker and claps may help, or for others, maybe treats could be the right incentive. Most methods share similarities, but they have to be personalized to suit you and your pet perfectly.
It’s best if your pet knows the basic commands of sit, stay, and down before moving on to more tricky tricks, as most moves start with these basic commands.
‘Rolling Over’ is a slightly more advanced move to teach, and so, it requires more time to learn. Your pet should know how to ‘sit’ and ‘lie down’ before you try attempting to teach ‘rollover’ on command.
What’s In Rolling Over?
Rolling Over is a cute play to try with your pup, and while it is slightly more advanced, it is still relatively simple to teach. You may think of it as the next level of the ‘Lie Down’ or ‘Playing Dead’ move. Essentially, your dog lies down on its belly and pulls a 180 rotation to lie belly up on its back.
It is a combination of multiple tricks, which is why we have broken it down into simpler parts- (a) lying down, and (b) for the main event, rolling over.
The first step in learning how to teach your dog to roll over is to master lying down. This is a necessary beginning for performing the roll-over trick, as the dog has to be lying down to achieve it.
If your dog has not been trained to respond to the “lie down” command, teach him to do that. Alternatively, you may also start by letting your dog lie on his side or using the ‘play dead’ trick too, whatever is suitable.
The most common method is using treats to trick your dog into following its trail. Fooling with treats to teach tricks sounds manipulative, which it might be. But it is effective and harmless, and well more treats for your doggo so he won’t complain.
With your dog on his side or his back, wave his favorite snack in front of him. This will make him follow the treat with his nose, and his body will follow.
Here’s step-by-step decoding of how it works.
- Give the command to “lie down.” In this lying-down position, your dog should be on his stomach with his paws stretched outwards in front of him and his head lifted a bit from the ground. From here, he will be able to roll over easily, without injuring himself.
- Hold a treat (or whatever else he
- may prefer) near the dog’s mouth. He should be able to see and smell it, so close to his face. Be sure to hold the treat tightly and that the dog can’t snatch it from your hand.
- Take the treat sideways and then over his head in a half-circular motion and say “rollover.” Move the food around your dog’s face so that his nose follows the action.
If you trace your dog’s nose with the treat along a path that will make your dog roll over as he follows, your dog should roll over.
Remember to speak the command “roll over” in a clear and gentle voice while moving the treat. The key to a successful trick is to get your pet to associate the specific instructions with the physical movement. You could even use a hand signal by making a rolling motion with your hand.
- The way to success is to keep practicing and keep encouraging your little furball. If he is not able to make the move, use your free hand to nudge him gently into following the movement. Practice the trick routinely as it can take a bit of time to get it exactly.
As you continue with your lessons, do not forget to reward your dog with treats, and pats, and whatever else he may like. This will encourage him to keep up and lessen his frustration.
Another way to go about it is to start by giving him belly and body rub-downs, just to get him comfortable in this position. After several sessions, once your dog is suited enough, while he lays on his side or his belly, say the command firmly and clearly ‘Roll Over.’
Proceeding this, take the fore and hind legs of the same side, say the right side of his body or whichever is closest to the floor, and carefully pull him over to face the other direction. In simpler words, holding his paws make him trace the path of the maneuver you want him to follow.
Take caution and stop if he shows any signs of discomfort. Once successful, praise and reward your pup so that he understands doing this will get him treats.
What Else There Is To It?
Know when to praise and reward your dog. To start, treat him at each step, and once he gets the hang of it, reward him for each roll he performs.
Once a habit is developed, he will associate rolls with rewards, establishing a new pattern. This habit will build his expectation, at which point you can treat him less frequently. But do not stop the goodies completely as they remind him that he is doing the right thing and will repeat it.
Keep practicing until he can perform the trick on his own. After the initial victories, your pet should be able to do the trick without your help. You will no longer need to hold treats over his face or push him to roll his body over.
A good way to start is to spend a couple of lessons on just rubbing down your pupper, over his belly, body, and limbs too. This will make him comfortable in this new position.
Some dogs do not like being touched on their limbs or sometimes even bellies. Don’t worry. It is natural for this to happen. These rub-downs will make them more open to the idea and desensitize them to the feeling.
Training your dog with any new tricks is a process that calls for the 4P’s- patience, practice, praise, and persistence. Rewarding goes a long way with dogs, and forming new habits is a long method.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Rolling Over
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your pupper won’t just ‘roll over’ in a day either. But, sticking to small and regular practice sessions does help. It can take up to an average of four weeks to train a single trick with a consistent routine.
The time depends on several factors, including whether it’s a new or aged pet or one with a strong and resistant personality. The thing to remember is to have patience and remain cool for the whole period.
It is also essential to have a positive and caring attitude while practicing. You would be aware by now that dogs are smart creatures and can pick up things like moods, changes in behavior, and feelings of those with whom they are familiar.
So be sure to keep a low, calming tone while giving out instructions to show your love for them throughout sessions.
When beginning, pick a room for your practice session that is comfortable. Place a soft and smooth cushion surface not to hurt your pet when training. The room should be free from any distractions, and the lessons should be uninterrupted. Also, choose a place with plenty of space as the dog will be moving around a lot.
After he learns the trick, you may start introducing people as an audience or other distractions in an orderly manner and see how he performs.
Rewarding is key. It is also the only incentive that will work on our favorite canines. You may give rewards in the form of treats or snacks, maybe even praises like ‘Good Girl’ or ‘Good Boy,’ clapping, petting, a good rub may even work. It all depends on your dog and what he likes.
Bare in mind punishments should never be used to teach anything. They scare dogs and make you untrustworthy to them. You can not beat dogs into submission. Only working calmly and fairly treating them is the right way to go.
Suppose your dog has any sort of condition like- arthritis, degenerative joint disease, or perhaps even cancer of some kind. In that case, you should consult with your veterinarian before beginning any sort of training lesson. These moves may cause unnecessary stress on joints and muscles and aid in deteriorating their health further.
Some breeds dislike rollovers. They do not want to expose their upsides on instinct. If your dog is not comfortable, it may be best not to teach him this play and move on to some other trick in the book.
The tone of your voice plays a major role in the whole process. For starters, your voice should be identical and clear each time you give out a command. Dogs have the gift of identifying variations and moods in sounds. They can easily detect how their trainers are feeling.
It is important to hold an appropriately stern yet calm voice, so that little trouble-maker knows you mean business.
In case your dog sometimes does perform and other times makes a lot of mistakes and starts jumping or turning its head in the wrong direction, know that it is also part of the training. You might be going a little fast and should go back to the last step in the order.
Teach the process again and go slow this time. Build-up on one step and do not proceed till it has been completely registered.
Don’t Forget To Have Fun!
Tricks may seem like all fun and games, but teaching them can become frustrating and seem hopeless as soon as you start.
The patience of both your dog and yours will be tested on the way, which is why you should limit your session to 10-15 minutes a day. But these mini-lessons should be consistent, or you will not see any results.
In the end, all this effort is supposed to be fun and a delightful way to spend some time with your pets. They are a great way to bond and understand your pet. They also act as trust-building exercises. After all, the tricks are just a nice way to show off how cool the little furry balls can be when they want to.
So now you have your training manual of how to teach a dog to roll over handy, get those treats, grab those 4-legged canines by their furry tail, blow that shrill whistle, and get rollin’!