Think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Think again!
While it’s true some dogs catch on to new tricks easier than others, any dog (just like any person) has the ability to learn something new – including how to roll over – and learning this fun party trick could be easier than you might think. By breaking the trick down into five baby steps – paired with a bit of practice, and a whole lot of patience – you can train your pup to master the “rollover” trick in no time.
5 Steps to Teach Rover How to Roll Over
Step 1 – Practice the Pre-Requisites
While there are no “official” rules to learning how to rollover, your dog should know a few basics as a prerequisite. Knowing “sit” and “lie down” are a good precursor to learning how to rollover, since these commands lay the foundation for, and are a part of, the “rollover” trick.
Additionally, by knowing these simpler tricks, your dog will have already demonstrated the ability to listen and learn new commands, so you can move forward with the rollover challenge with a bit more confidence.
Step 2 – Set Up
Before you begin training your dog, take some time to set up your training environment. This includes:
- A clicker (if you’re click-training your dog)
- Treats (for positive reinforcement!)
- A calm, quiet place to train your pup (like your backyard or even your living room) so you dog isn’t easily distracted
Step 3 – Start with “Lie Down”
Begin the training with the “lie down” command (a move your dog should already be familiar with), since this is the first step in the “roll over” trick. Reward your dog with a treat for completing “lie down” a few times.
Step 4 – Get Rolling
Once your dog is lying down, the next step is to roll. To get your dog rolling, The Spruce suggests holding a treat by their nose, and then pulling the treat from the tip of their nose toward their shoulder, encouraging your dog to turn their head as they follow the treat. As they do this, continue to pull the treat around their shoulder so they’ll have to shift and roll on their side to follow it.
Once they complete a full roll, reward them with a treat! Keep in mind that, like any new trick, they likely won’t get this on the first try, so you can continue to break down the shoulder circular movement into smaller and smaller parts until they grasp the task.
Step 5 – Add the Command
Finally, once your pup has mastered the full circle roll over, it’s time to end by adding the command “roll over.” State the command as you guide your dog through the steps with a treat and repeat daily. Dogs thrive on routine, and once they’ve practiced this regularly, they’ll start to associate the command with the task fairly quickly.
What if Your Dog Just Won’t Roll Over?
If your dog just won’t roll over no matter how often you try and practice, they could feel unsafe (being on their backs is a very vulnerable position), or they could be physically unable to roll over. If your pup is resisting the trick, don’t force it, especially if they seem to be in pain. If that’s the case, contact your veterinarian to help rule out any underlying health issues or body or joint damage.
Remember, learning anything new for both you and your dog can take time. But, with a bit of patience and a lot of persistence, anything is possible. With practice, who knows – your dog could just be the next “Top Dog” champion!