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Rollover Rover

August 22, 2010 -

 Teaching your dog to roll over is a fun easy trick.  To start training this, grab some yummy treats and take your dog to a quiet spot, preferably with some carpet or a rug (it can be uncomfortable for some dogs to roll over on a hard floor).  For this trick we are going to use a technique called shaping, which means we will reward the dog for small steps towards the finished behavior.  Praise your dog and give a treat after each of these steps:

Teaching your dog to roll over is a fun easy trick.

To start training this, grab some yummy treats and take your dog to a quiet spot, preferably with some carpet or a rug (it can be uncomfortable for some dogs to roll over on a hard floor).

For this trick we are going to use a technique called shaping, which means we will reward the dog for small steps towards the finished behavior.

Praise your dog and give a treat after each of these steps:

  • Have the dog lie down.
  • While the dog is lying down, place a treat right at his nose and, while keeping the treat parallel to the floor (at nose height), take the treat from his nose, in an arc/semicircle, towards the dog’s back knee.  You are looking for the dog to be lying down with his hips to one side.
  • While the dog is still laying in a relaxed down position, place the treat at his nose and move it up his shoulder area, slowly, until his outside elbow turns under and the dog is lying on his side.  His hips will already be on their side and as his head follows the treat up his shoulder, he should end up lying flat on his side.
  • Once the dog is comfortably lying flat on his side, take the treat from his nose and continue over his shoulder (the same path you did in the step above) and as he follows it, his upper body will start to turn.  As he turns, he’ll end up on his back and eventually roll over.  This step may need to be broken down smaller to encourage the dog to keep trying to roll over. 

Once your dog gets comfortable with all these steps, you’ll only praise and treat when he rolls all the way over.  You can add the verbal cue “rollover” once he does it reliably each time you try to get him to do it.  Most people use a circular hand signal (like you are drawing a circle in front of you with your index finger).  Make sure you don’t “help” him roll over by pushing him.  That makes a lot of dogs nervous, so just be patient and lure him over with the treat.  Another cute variation of this is to ask your dog, “What do you do in case of fire?” and have him stop, drop (down), and roll (over). 

Tricks are a great way to mentally stimulate your dog and keep him from getting bored or being destructive.  There are many books with ideas for tricks and PetSmart offers Trick classes as well.  Have fun teaching your dog to roll over!

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