How to Teach a Dog to Roll Over: 5 Tips & Tricks


Teaching your dog a new trick can be a fun but exhaustive process. But what’s better than having your dog perform a trick at the next family barbecue or a trip to the beach?

Teaching a dog to roll over is probably one of the most common tricks that dogs can perform and with the right methods, you can have your dog rolling over on command in a matter of days. In this article, we are going to go over the steps to help you with this training and cover a couple of other fun tricks that you can teach your dog.

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The 5 Tips to Teach a Dog to Roll Over

1. Calm the Dog

woman feeding veritas farms calming chews to her dog

Before you start, make sure your dog is calm and relaxed. A dog that is overzealous and hyper can be a bit hard to train. And sometimes it’s best to even try and calm the dog during the latter part of a day, when it’s a bit more relaxed.

Sometimes taking your dog to a quiet place can help it focus–meaning no additional children or pets around and no moving vehicles. This can be a room in your home or an enclosed backyard.


2. Place Your Dog in the “Down” Position

Next, you’ll need to first get your dog to sit. And if your dog doesn’t know this specific command, it’s essential to first teach this command. Once your dog performs the “Sit” command correctly, be sure to give it a treat.

Never force your dog into a position. However, with larger dogs, it may be necessary to give them a gentle nudge, so they know the proper direction in which to go. So, for this position, you can even lightly tap the dog on the side of his hind leg and instruct it to sit.


3. Add a Cue word

dog training
Image Credit: Piqsels

Now it’s time to actually teach your dog to roll over. For this, you’ll need a “cue”. If you can be any word that you can think of to let the dog know to initiate the move. Many pet owners use variations of “roll” or “play dead” for this trick. Once you come up with your keyword, you’ll need to repeat it a few times for the dog to associate the word with the move.


4. Perform the Move Yourself

Initially, your dog may not know what the keyword means, so the best thing to do is to perform the move yourself. Yes, this means actually getting down on your hands and knees, and then rolling over with your back on the ground and your stomach facing the ceiling. Naturally, your dog may try to imitate you, and when it does come and be sure to reward it with a treat.


5. Keep Practicing with Cue Word

Dog consistent training
Image Credit: DestinyWiens, Unsplash

As with anything, practice makes perfect. So, you’ll need to practice giving the command and performing the move with the doc several times each day. Keep in mind that every dog will be different and that all canines learn at different paces.

Some dog breeds will also take quicker to tricks, so patience is key. But just remember to give the cue, perform the move if your dog doesn’t on its own, and then reward it when it does.

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How To Teach Your Dog to Give Handshakes (aka “Pawshakes”)

Another great trick you can teach your dog is how to give you a handshake, or a “pawshake”, as many dog owners like to call it. This is a relatively easy trick to teach your dog and it looks very impressive.

1. Find a Treat

Dog reward on training_JamesLacy_Unsplash

Start by opening up a new bag of treats and holding them in your hand. As soon as you do this your dog will naturally try to retrieve them from your hand with its mouth and nose. However, it’s important that you keep your hand closed.


2. Give a Command

Next, give a verbal command so that your dog can give you a pop. It may instinctively do this on its own and when it does, be sure to say “paw” or some other verbal command for this particular cue.

Don’t let the dog get the treat until it gives you a paw. Eventually, more likely than not your dog will try to paw at your hand relatively quickly to access the treat. Once your dog places its paw on your hand, open up your hand and let the dog eat the treat. Continue to do this a few times in succession. Be sure to give your dog verbal commands of praise.


3. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

dog training outdoor
Image Credit: Paya Mona, Shutterstock

One of the most important steps for this trick is repetition. Be sure to perform this command several times in succession. Anywhere from five to seven times as ideal and you’ll need to perform it a few days in a row for your dog to cement it into its memory.

Don’t forget to give the verbal command after you place the treat in your closed hand. And don’t forget to give the dog verbal praise once it gives you a paw so that it knows what the requested action is.

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Steps For Teaching Your Dog to Fetch

And of course, probably one of the most common tricks that you can teach your dog is to simply fetch a toy. This trick can be a bit laboring to teach due to the various cues that the dog will need when it’s first starting out. However, you will find that some dog breeds will take onto this fairly quickly. These breeds include Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies, Poodles, and German Shepherds– but any dog can be taught this trick.

1. Pick the Right Fetch Toy

french bulldog playing a toy outdoor
Image Credit: christels, Pixabay

People make the common mistake of choosing the wrong toy to fetch. Before you teach your dog how to play fetch, ensure you have a suitable toy. Different toys can have different functions for your dog’s routine, and not all toys are designed for fetch.

A ball is always an ideal option for fetch, especially if your dog is just learning how to play and obey commands. Dogs, especially young pups, will struggle to grasp larger toys and smaller toys can become lost. You can also use a frisbee as a fetch toy–they’re light and easier for the dog to grasp.


2. Choose the Right Space

Dog owners who live in apartments or homes with limited space may or may not have the opportunity to play indoors. If you fall into this category, it’s best to maximize the space indoors that you have for playtime–if you have enough room to even play indoors with the dog.

But it’s always better to go outside to a local dog park or another outdoor open area. If You have enough room to play fetch indoors, make sure to inspect the area room for potential hazards. Avoid balconies and staircases where possible. Also, training on carpeted surfaces is a good idea to keep your dog from slipping or sliding on the ground while playing fetch.


3. Let Your Dog Sniff the Ball

dog playing with chew toy
Image Credit: AnnaD, Pixabay

First, take the ball in your hand and let your dog come up to it and sniff it. It may instinctively try to grab the ball out of your hand with its mouth. And if it’s a puppy or an untrained dog it may take the toy and simply run away with it. When this happens, use a verbal command to instruct the dog to come back.

This is why in many cases it’s best to teach your dog other commands such as Sit, Stay, and Heel, before playing fetch. When the dog comes back to you, take the toy from its mouth and give it a pat on the head and verbal praise.


4. Throw the Ball and Give a Cue

Now that your dog is familiar with the ball, it’s time to wrap things up. Simply toss the ball a few feet and yell out the word “Fetch” or another verbal cue. If a dog stands and looks like you with a Pikachu face you’ve got a lot more training to do.

If it does this, simply go get the ball and try it again. Eventually, your dog will catch on to the fact that you want it to retrieve the ball. When it does, giving the dog verbal praise and a treat is also a good idea.


5. Getting the Ball Back

Dog training for new owners_AnnaDudkova_Unsplash
Image Credit: Anna Dudkova, Unsplash

The next hurdle to overcome is simply getting the dog to give you the ball. Young or untrained dogs may struggle with this initially, because they’ll just think it’s a new toy for them to hold onto as long as they like. You use a verbal command (such as “Come”) once the dog retrieves the toy to instruct it to come back in your direction.

Once it does, hold your hand out and give another verbal command, such as “Drop It”, so that the dog drops the ball in your hand. Sometimes your dog won’t catch on to the cue of you holding out your hand, so a verbal cue may be needed.

Once the dog drops the ball into your hand, give it a treat and tons of verbal praise. If the dog does not come toward you, simply go toward it and perform this step until you get the ball.


6. Repeat

The fetch command can take a few weeks of training, depending on the age and current training level of your dog. But as with other dog tricks, repetition and consistency are key. It’s best to try this trick when your dog has the energy to run.

So, try not to start this training immediately after a dog eats (give it at least 45 minutes to an hour to digest its food first) or soon as it wakes up for the day. Midday or afternoon training is usually ideal for most dogs.

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Wrapping Things Up

Teaching your dog to roll over is a fairly simple trick but will take consistency and a bit of patience initially. If your dog is yelling or untrained, you’ll need to start slow and use consistent verbal cues and praise.

This will allow the dog to pick up on each step of the training and will help cement the verbal cues into its head. And remember, if your dog is struggling with the rollover command, sometimes performing it yourself is the best way for your dog to learn. Dogs love to imitate people and showing your dog can’t help it learn this trick faster. And don’t forget to offer treats!


Featured Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock



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