One of the many wonderful things about dogs is they are excellent learners. We can teach them all sorts of things, whether they be skills they need to be successful in the human world or neat tricks. The “roll over” cue is something we can teach our dogs that is one part useful and two parts cute. This cue functions as a way to check your dog for issues on the tummy such as ticks or mats and it is a fun trick your dog can show off, making you drool over the cuteness while sharing your dinner (your dog is training you!).
To begin this cue, your dog should be able to respond to a “down” cue (lie down) without any issue. You should also consider your dog’s comfort; dogs that are deep-chested (like many hound breeds) have a very prominent spine and rolling completely over is uncomfortable for them.
With these easy steps, and with awesome power of positive reinforcement, your dog will be rolling their way into everyone’s hearts in no time.
What You Need to Get Started
Pick a Reinforcer for Your Dog
Select a reinforcer to provide your dog as they learn and make great choices. A great reinforcer should be something your dog loves, is small, and easy to provide repeatedly. For 99% of dogs this is some kind of food item like a treat. Things like cut-up hotdogs, small pieces of cheese or lunch meat, or store-bought training treats are good options.
Make an Effective Marker
A marker (bridge or bridging stimulus) is a sound or hand signal that denotes the exact moment your dog did something that earned them a reinforcer (the treat). A clicker is a great example of this. If you don’t have a clicker you can just use a word like “yes” or “good” but pick one and stick to it. Mark the behavior the second you see it. The more accurate and quick your mark is, the more effective your teaching becomes.
6 Steps to Teach Your Dog to Roll Over on Cue
Ask Your Dog to “Down”
Use a Treat to Lure Your Dog into Position
Lure Your Dog to His Side
Lure Your Dog onto His Back and “Over”
Treat and Repeat
Remove the Lure and Add Your Hand Signal
Tip: If your dog doesn’t follow your treat lure try a different treat (something tastier and stinkier) and slow down your luring movement. Once your dog is reliably performing the cue, it is time to “fade the lure” and reserve the treat only for reinforcement.
Patience is key with this one! Don’t move too fast or expect your dog to be able to do the entire cue in one training session. Always make sure your dog is comfortable with each position. Mark and treat for successful baby steps, making sure your dog is having fun, and getting lots of tasty treats during the learning process.