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How to Teach a Dog to Roll Over: 8 Quick and Easy Steps

Dogs are smart creatures that can learn almost anything with enough time, patience, and rewards. While obedience commands like sit and stay are important, teaching your furry friend fun tricks like roll over will give their brain a thorough workout and help the two of you bond.

Rolling over is a classic dog trick that looks impressive, and it’s not as difficult to teach as you might think. With some training sessions and positive reinforcement, your dog will be rolling over in no time.

Read on to learn how to teach a dog to roll over in only a few simple steps. Before long, your pup will be wowing everyone with their new party trick!

What You’ll Need Before Training

Before you dive in, you’ll need a few things to make training your dog more effective. The most important training tool you’ll need is high-value treats.

You’ll want treats that your dog loves and is willing to work for, but also consider the calorie count of each treat. Dog training takes time and repetition, so you’ll be rewarding your dog frequently. Lower calorie dog treats can help keep your pup at a healthy weight.

You’ll also want to consider clicker training with a clicker tool. These handy tools help you to mark behaviors with a distinct click sound, making it easier for you to communicate with your dog.

A dog being trained

Teach Your Dog to Roll Over: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ready to get started? Follow these 8 simple steps to teach your dog to roll over in no time:

1) Find a Quiet, Comfortable Environment

Learning a new trick requires a lot of concentration from your dog, so it’s best to start in a quiet room with minimal distractions.

Designate a spot in your home that your dog feels comfortable in for training sessions, and remove any potentially distracting elements like fun toys or other animals.

2) Give Your Dog a “Down” Command

To learn to roll over, your dog will need to start in the “down” position with their paws resting out in front of them and their stomach touching the ground.

If your dog hasn’t yet mastered the “down” command, you’ll want to spend some time on this step until they can reliably go into a down position when you ask.

3) Use a Treat to Lure Your Dog

Once your dog is in position, the next step is to shape the movement for them. This means showing your dog exactly what you’re expecting of them, so they can understand. The best way to do this is through luring with treats.

Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose to get them interested, then slowly move the treat over your dog’s shoulder. They should turn their head to follow the treat, and as they do, they’ll naturally roll over onto their side to keep their eyes on the treat.

Keep moving the treat in a circular motion around your dog’s head until they complete the roll-over motion.

A man giving a dog a treat

4) Reward Your Dog with the Treat

Once your dog has completed the behavior that you want from them, it’s important to mark that behavior and reward them with a treat.

You can mark the behavior with just a verbal cue like “yes,” or “good job,” or you can use a clicker to mark the behavior with a sound. Say your verbal cue or press the clicker as soon as your dog has completed the motion, and then reward them with the treat.

5) Practice Repeatedly Until Your Dog Understands the Motion

For your dog to fully understand the concept of rolling over, you’ll need to repeat this motion over and over, rewarding each time your pup rolls over, until they can consistently roll over with the lure.

Your dog may need help during this time to correct their form and stop unwanted behaviors like moving in the wrong direction or jumping up to get the treat from your hand.

6) Add in the “Roll Over” Command

Once your dog has mastered the motion of rolling over, it’s time to introduce the command and start building your dog’s association.

You’ll continue to lure your dog in the same way you practiced before, but before you start to move the treat, say your chosen command in a clear, positive way. You can use “roll over,” “roll,” or any other word you want, as long as you’re consistent with its usage.

Repeat this step over and over until your dog starts to anticipate the motion after you say the command.

7) Phase Out the Treats

Now that your dog has connected the command with the action, you can start to phase out the luring.

Start by showing your dog the treat and saying the command. Then, instead of using the treat to move your dog’s body, simply wait until you see your dog roll over. Once they do, reward them with the treat.

Repeat this process a few times until your dog understands, and then remove the treat from the process.

Say the command, but don’t show your dog the treat. This helps to reinforce the behavior for them without the promise of a reward. Once they do perform the roll-over, however, reward them with a treat.

8) Practice in Other Environments

Once your dog has mastered the trick in a quiet environment, it’s time to practice in other locations. Start with small changes, like another room in the house or outside in your backyard, then increase the difficulty to other places around your neighborhood.

If your dog struggles with rolling over in any of the new environments, go back to previous steps in the process. Try luring your dog with a treat to recreate the behavior, and then slowly phase out the treat as they get more comfortable in a new location.

A dog rolling over in grass


Quick Tips for Success

These quick tips will make the process of teaching your dog to roll over safe and fun for both of you:

Check with Your Vet Before Training

Before you start any new training, talk with your vet. Rolling over can be tough on dogs with joint issues, so you’ll want to check with your vet to make sure teaching the “roll over” trick is safe for your pup.

Take Each Training Step Slowly

Don’t rush through each step. Every dog learns at a different pace, and it may take your dog a while to pick up on the movements that you’re asking for.

If your dog ever struggles with a specific step, go back to a previous step until they’re comfortable moving on.

Don’t Force the Roll Over Motion

Rolling over is a vulnerable position and it can be uncomfortable for some dogs. You never want to force your dog to do something that makes them anxious. If they show any sign of discomfort, it may be best to wait until another time or try training a different trick.

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age can a dog learn to roll over?

While it’s possible to teach puppies basic commands like sit and stay, more complex tricks like rolling over are best saved for when they’re a little older. Once your dog begins to understand basic commands, you can start to introduce new tricks like rolling over. Around 3 months old should be a good time to start for most dogs.

How long does it take to teach a puppy to roll over?

Both you and your puppy will need to be patient while learning this trick. It may take a few weeks or more of consistent practice before your puppy gets the hang of it. Remember, all dogs are different and will learn at their own pace.

Is it hard to teach a dog to roll over?

No, it’s not hard to teach a dog to roll over. However, it will take time, patience, and consistency to master this trick. Be sure to keep each training session short, break down every step slowly, and reward your dog throughout the process to encourage good behavior.

Are You Ready to Teach Your Dog to Roll Over?

Teaching your dog new tricks is a great enrichment activity, and the perfect way to strengthen your communication skills with your pup. Just be prepared to commit to several training sessions, and always end on a positive note. With enough time, patience, and treats, your dog will be rolling over in no time!