Along with being your best friends, dogs are excellent learners. Teaching a dog new behavior using a soft and motivation-based approach helps you form a closer bond with it.
Learning something new enhances the dog’s ability to understand tricks and the training becomes effective.
Teaching your dog to roll over can help build muscle tone and stamina with increased flexibility, balance, and coordination. It helps channel your dog’s energy into something positive.
Teaching roll over commands to your dog is a pretty impressive trick to show off to your visitors. Teaching the roll over command should be done between 10 to 12 weeks of age. You need to keep your training sessions brief and enjoyable as a roll over is tricky to teach.
How to teach a dog to roll over?
While you do not have to be a professional dog trainer, you have to be patient while teaching your pet the trick of rolling over.
The roll over trick you teach your pets can be helpful and cute. It can be good since it allows you to check for issues related to its tummies like ticks or mats and is a fun trick for your dog to show off. Unfortunately, hound breeds have difficulty rolling due to their prominent spine. To begin with, your pet should be able to do a few basic commands like ‘down’ and, with a few more easy steps added to the training, it will be rolling out to your amazement.
To start, you will need a quiet place; a few training treats for your dog, a clicker tool(optional), a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes a day, lots of patience, and passion.
Follow these steps to teach your dog to roll over:
Step 1: Start in an ideal environment
It is best to choose a quiet area with no distractions. It will help your pet focus on the training. An indoor location with room for plenty of floor space for your pet to roll freely will be an ideal choice. You have to choose a soft floor as your dog will be spending lots of time rolling. Once it learns the trick in a place, it can do it anywhere outside.
Step 2: Ask your pet to lie down
Command your dog to lie down. Once it is in the lying position with its belly facing the ground, paws resting in the front, and head facing up, you can start teaching it to roll over.
When your pet is lying down with its left leg out, you will know that it is ready to roll over to the right side. You will be able to decide the direction it is leaning to know which way your dog will roll over.
If you try to roll it in the other direction, it will get difficult for your dog.
Step 3: Offer your dog a treat
You will need to lure your pet to a position by offering a treat. Hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose for it to smell and see it. Hold the treat firmly in your hands so that your dog does not get away with it.
You can either buy small treats and keep them till the end of the session or break the bigger treats into small pieces. Your pets can be motivated to train by giving good treats.
Step 4: Moving the treat
Keep the treat in your hand near your pet’s nose and move it in the direction you want it to roll over. Your dog should turn its head in the direction of the treat. Keep moving the treat so that your pet has to follow the direction and will make physical movements accordingly to reach for the treat.
Step 5: Reward your pet for rolling over
Once your dog completes a full roll over, you can give it treats immediately. If you are using a clicker, click it before the treat is given. The reward should be given immediately once a roll over is complete so that your pet knows what it is doing is right. Then, make it repeat the movements by offering more treats.
Step 6: Keep Practicing without treats
Once your dog starts to roll over for treats, repeat the procedure without using any rewards. You have to pretend to hold a treat and make movements with your hand. Reward your pet once a roll over is complete and keep going on with the practice till the time it performs the trick without rewards. If you have a stubborn dog, it might need lots of practice to roll.
Step 7: Start using the roll over command
Once your pet gets accustomed to rolling over with treats and your hand actions, it is time to introduce the roll over command. It is to make your dog link the command with the trick. Hold the treat in your hand and, in a clear and loud tone, say ‘roll over’ before you move the treat around its head. You can use the roll over hand movement initially to make it comfortable. Keep practicing until your pet performs the trick only on verbal cues without your physical actions.
Step 8: More Practice
Once the roll over trick has been mastered, you need to keep on practicing with a treat outdoors. It may be difficult for your pet to roll over outdoors due to several distractions like other people and animals, making it hard to concentrate. Therefore, you have to start practicing outdoors slowly until your pet starts coping with the external factors. To check if your dog has mastered the art of rolling over, you can ask someone else to give the command.
Long training sessions may be taxing on you and your dogs, so do not practice for a very long time as it may reduce your pet’s productivity and enthusiasm.
Trouble shooting for hesitant dogs
While teaching your pet the roll over trick, there are many times when it would not perform the action properly due to its inattentiveness or inability to understand the actions properly. For example, if it keeps on lifting its bottom as you try to pull them into a stretch, you will need to break down the steps further:
- You have to lower your hand, palm facing down and holding a treat, halfway down the “elevator” to the floor.
- When your pet tries to follow the treat, you need to mark this movement with a verbal ‘Yes’ or a clicker and drop the treat. Repeat this process at least 5 times.
- Next, lower your hand again, palm facing downwards with the treat going towards the floor. When your dog bends all the way for the treat, release it and repeat this process 5 times.
- You can now try to get your pet to stretch its legs. Lower your hand while holding the treat and start pulling it towards yourself. If your dog stretches at this instant, reward it; repeat this procedure 5 times.
- Continue pulling the reward towards yourself for the dog to lie down completely into the full down position. Reward once it gets to the proper position.
What are the things to follow before teaching your dog to roll over?
While teaching your pets the roll-over trick, you will have time to bond with it. Since you spend time with your dog for exercise, it helps your pet remain active and energetic. However, there are a few things you need to follow if you are to teach your pet the new trick:
- Check with the Vet – You have to make sure that your pet is approved for a roll over. If your dog is suffering from physical ailments of spinal, muscular, skeletal nature, or other issues, you should skip this trick and teach it something else.
- Training in a Smooth and Clean place – Avoid messy and crowded places for roll over training. You should not teach your dog to roll over in a small place like your bed or couch as it may fall and get hurt. The floor you choose has to be smooth and clean so that they perform the activity without any hindrance.
- Not to Force the dog to perform if uncomfortable – As an owner, you are to understand your pet’s needs and comfort quotient. Teach your dog this trick only if it is physically comfortable. If your pet is comfortable with the roll over inside the house, stick indoors and avoid strange places.
Reasons why your dog would not roll over
Your dog may not know to roll over as it is being stubborn, dominant, anxious, or bringing negativity to the otherwise fun activity. Few other factors like being deaf and dumb and lack of motivation are some causes. Reasons for your pet not rolling over are listed below:
Your dog might roll onto its back when it is being submissive because exposing its bellies makes it vulnerable. However, your pet may tend to avoid going on its back when uncomfortable before other dogs or strangers.
Old Age / Senior Dog
Old Age is another reason for your pet not being able to roll over. As your pet grows old, it has less energy and seems to be forgetful.
Any physical injury will make your pet abstain from rolling over. This is because rolling over requires your pet to use its whole body, and any injury makes it uncomfortable for your dog.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction – Aging of a dog’s brain
It is known as Dementia in dogs. It is compared to Alzheimer’s disease in people. The most common symptoms of CCD are changes in the activity cycle and interaction with family members, changes in sleep patterns, and disorientation.
Trained dogs always look out for treats once it performs a trick. If your pet is not rolling over, it might also be looking out for a treat. However, there are cases where your pet will not perform the trick despite getting treats. The only reason is that the given treat is not motivating enough.
Your dog might not roll over as it finds it uncomfortable to roll due to hard surfaces. In addition, there may be instances where they are not comfortable performing this trick before unknown people or other animals. Inflammation, Arthritis, or hip Dysplasia maybe a few of the conditions where your dog may not roll over.
Most dogs are open to learning new tricks, some are harder than others, but with patience and time, you will have your pet dog listening to your instructions in no time. Training and obedience are the best ways to relax and rejuvenate your dog’s brain.