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dog rolling over in field

How to teach your dog to roll over

‘Roll over’ is a fun command, for dogs as well as their owners.

It’s one of the more complex tricks for our furry friends to learn, but will help to keep them mentally stimulated – especially smarter breeds.

Let’s look at how to teach your dog to roll over.

You will need:

You’ll need a fair amount of space for this command, especially if you have a medium to large-sized dog. Choose one room in the house, ideally somewhere that’s clear from distractions and obstacles.

Set aside around 5 minutes per day for training. Small, frequent sessions work well and prevent your dog from getting bored or agitated.

Stock up on tasty treats too. Try keeping a variety: extra tasty treats (such as chicken pieces) can be used when teaching a brand new behaviour, commonplace treats can be used when commands are more established.

Note: Take note of how many treats you’re getting through and adjust your dog’s meals accordingly. This will prevent them from gaining weight.

Teach your dog to roll over, step by step

Now it’s time for the fun part!

  1. Get your dog to lie down. If they don’t know this command, you may want to teach them to lie down before carrying on with ‘roll over’.
  2. Crouch to their level and place the treat in front of their nose.
  3. Slowly rotate the treat around your dog’s head. Their nose will follow it, and you should find that the head and body follow the nose until they’re lying on their side.
  4. Once your dog is lying on their side, give them the treat and reward their behaviour with ‘Good boy/girl!’ or similar.
  5. Practice these stages until your dog is comfortable. As they get better, start moving the treat further around so that your dog does a full 360 degree roll – then give them the treat and praise their behaviour.
  6. Say ‘Roll over’ every time your dog rolls over, this will help them associate the action with the command.
  7. Keep practising, little and often. As your dog gets better, try the command without treats, and in different areas of the house.

white dog on its back

And remember…

‘Roll over’ is difficult for some dogs to perform. Don’t force it, and never scold or shout at your dog if they struggle to grasp a command.

Slow and steady: it may take weeks for your dog to master certain commands, you may need to go back a step or two once in a while. Be patient, and don’t make training sessions too long.

Keep things fresh: if your dog is a natural trickster, try getting them to do tricks when they’re out on walks.

Need more info?

For more advice on how to teach your dog to roll over, have a chat with your local vet – they’ll be able to recommend a qualified behaviourist if you need one.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.