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How To Teach Your Dog To Roll Over

To teach your dog to roll over, you just need to get to grips with the basic steps that make up the command and know how and when to introduce them to your dog. Use treats to keep your dog’s attention and break down the different stages of the command for them, and this will help your dog to understand what you are asking for them and repeat it, as a form of chain command.

In this article, we will break down the steps involved in teaching your dog how to roll over, and explain in simple terms how to do it. Read on to learn more.

How to start

When it comes to training dogs for any skill or command, it is important to have a plan for how you are going to go about it, in order to provide direction and guidance for your dog and avoid confusing them!

Exactly how long it will take to teach your dog any given command depends on a lot of variables-some dogs are simply smarter than others and so, quicker to pick things up, and a lot depends on how effectively you work with your dog and adapt to their unique requirements as well.

When teaching any new command to your dog, it is wise to have plenty of treats to hand, as this helps to keep their attention and keep them working hard to please you, and so, earn a reward.

You don’t need any other specialist equipment or tools to begin working on the roll over command, but it is wise to make sure that your dog is in the right frame of mind, and is not full of energy or desperate for a walk!

Breaking down the command

When your dog has learnt to roll over and knows what you want from them, you will be able to use one umbrella command, ie., “roll over,” and they will react to the command and go through the process of executing it.

However, as you can likely see, simply telling your dog to “roll over” on its own tells your dog nothing about what you actually want from them, and so you have to break the different parts of the command down into its individual elements and teach them to your dog one step at a time. This is known as a chain command, or a command that actually consists of several different commands executed in succession, under the umbrella heading of one term.

The stages to break the “roll over” command down into are as follows:

  • Lie down
  • Lateral recumbence
  • Over
  • Up

This essentially means that you break the command down into four stages, starting with putting your dog into the “lie down” position, then lying on their side, then flipping over, and then getting up again.

Next, we will look at how to teach the four stages to your dog, and how to combine them into the one command.

Going through the stages

Teaching your dog the “lie down” command is reasonably simple, and if your dog does not know this command already, you can generally teach it fairly easily using a treat.

Get your dog to sit, and then give the “lie down” command while holding a treat in front of them and slowly lowering your hand to the floor, so that the dog’s head follows your hand. When your dog’s head reaches the floor, move your hand a few inches away, to encourage your dog to crouch down, and ultimately lie down. You can use a hand to push gently their rear end down if they need some direction.

The next element of rolling over is to get your dog to lie on their side, as the first stage of the roll. You can do this again by using a treat to encourage your dog to cock their head, and moving the treat slowly to the side until they are lying on their side. If your dog tries to get up to catch the treat instead, put them back into a lying down position.

When you can convince your dog to lie on their side, try rubbing their belly to turn them onto their back, and then flipping them over the other way, and finish with returning them to their feet.

At every stage of the process, keep giving your dog the “roll over” command, and offering a treat for every good attempt or success.

Going through each stage slowly at first will make sure that your dog knows what you want of them at every stage, and when your dog gets comfortable with this, speed things up!

Over time, you will be able to see your dog begin to execute the whole motion without waiting for the command to move onto the next stage, under the umbrella of the simple “roll over” command!


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