"Roll over" is a cute and fun trick to teach your dog. Before you start, your dog should already be able to sit and lie down on command. It is a little more difficult to teach your dog to roll over than it is to teach him some other commands, but with a little patience, your dog will be rolling over before you know it.
Here's how to do it:
What You Need
You will need a handful of treats and a soft area for your dog to practice rolling over.
Train Your Dog to Roll Over
Start training your dog to roll over by giving him the "down" command. Once he is lying down, the next step is to get him to begin to roll. Hold a treat by his nose, and then pull the treat from the tip of his nose toward his shoulder. Your dog should turn his head to follow the treat. If he does, you can continue to pull the treat around his shoulder so he will have to lie down on his side to follow it. Continue holding the treat close to your dog's nose, and pull it all the way around so he'll have to roll all the way over to follow it. If he completes the full roll, praise him or click your clicker and give him a treat.
Break It Down into Smaller Parts
While it would be great if your dog rolled over all at once, most people find that their dog is not turning all the way around to follow the treat on the first try.
Your dog may jump up, wiggle, or move his head around to the other side to try to get the treat. If this is the case with your dog, you can break his training into smaller parts.
With your dog lying down, hold a treat at your dog's nose and move it towards his shoulder. The moment he turns his head, click or praise him and give him a treat.
Practice this several times until he's consistently turning his head.
Next, stop giving your dog a treat for every head turn. Give treats only for the head turns that bring him closest to lying on his side. Next, only give your dog praise and a treat when he's lying on his side completely. In this way, you can slowly select the behaviors that come closest to rolling over, with each new behavior bringing him closer to completely rolling over. Once you're able to get your dog onto his back, it's fairly simple to lure him over to his other side and into a sitting or standing position by holding the treat in front of his nose.
If your dog is making a lot of mistakes, such as jumping up or turning his head in the opposite direction, you may be moving ahead too quickly. Go back a step or two to when your dog was performing well, and start to slowly build him back up to a full roll over.
Some dogs can be resistant to lying on their backs and showing their bellies. In this case, make sure your dog knows that training is just fun and games. If he enjoys belly rubs, scratch his belly, and click or praise and give him a treat every time he offers you his belly. Be sure to keep your voice light and positive.
It's also important to keep training sessions short and upbeat. Training sessions that are too long tend to become frustrating for both you and your dog. Keep training to about 10 minutes each time, and try to end each session on a positive note.
Add the Roll Over Command
When teaching your dog to roll over, it's often easiest to add the command once your dog is consistently rolling all the way over. Once he's smoothly following the treat and rolling over each time, it's time to add the command. Hold the treat in front of him, give the command "roll over," and lure him over with the treat. Practice this over several training sessions.
Stop Using the Treat to Lure Your Dog to Roll Over
The final step in teaching your dog to roll over is to stop using treats to lure him into the roll. Once your dog has rolled over after hearing the command a number of times, start off by giving the command and waiting a few seconds.
Some dogs catch on quickly, and will roll over immediately. Once he has rolled over completely, click or praise and give a treat.
If your dog doesn't immediately respond to the command, you can phase out the treat more slowly. Start by giving your dog the command "roll over," and use the treat to lure him part of the way over. Move the treat away from him once he is in motion. Slowly decrease how far you lure him with each training session. Most dogs catch on quickly, and will soon be dropping into a roll on your command.
Edited by Jenna Stregowski, RVT