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How to Teach a Dog to Roll Over
You don’t necessarily need a dog training clicker to teach your dog to roll over, but clicker training is helpful for more efficiently teaching dogs new tricks. Whether or not you use a clicker, as long as you have some dog treats on hand and follow these simple steps, your canine companion will learn to roll over with ease.
- Train in the ideal environment. Choose an indoor location with a soft floor since your dog will be spending lots of time rolling around on the ground. Make sure to remove distractions so your dog can focus properly—this means turning off the television, closing your window shades, and ensuring that other people and animals leave the room.
- Command your dog to lie down. Once your dog is in the down position with its belly on the ground, paws resting in front, and head facing up, you're ready to begin teaching it to roll over.
- Hold a treat in front of your dog's face. Place the dog treat close to your dog's nose so it can smell and see it. Be alert in case your dog tries to snatch the treat before performing the trick.
- Move the treat toward your dog’s shoulder. Your dog should turn its head to follow the treat. Keep moving the treat so your dog has to first roll onto its side to follow it, then rotate the treat around so your dog has to completely roll over to keep the treat in sight.
- Praise your dog and give it the treat. After your dog completes a full roll, reward it with the treat immediately afterward. If using a clicker, click it before giving your dog the treat.
- Practice frequently, and assist when necessary. Most dogs will need lots of practice and help to consistently roll over on their own. If your dog is jumping up or moving in the wrong direction, try using your unoccupied hand to guide it to roll in the proper direction. If your dog rolls part of the way and then abandons the roll, you can still reward it with an early treat after its last correct move so it’s aware of the last moment it behaved properly.
- Start using the "roll over" command. Once your dog is consistently rolling over all the way, it's time to add in a verbal command so your dog begins to associate the command with the trick. Hold the dog treat out and in a clear, encouraging tone say "roll over" before you move the treat around its head. You can use a "roll over" hand signal instead, or even combine the verbal command with a hand signal. Practice this step over several training sessions until it becomes second nature.
- Stop using the dog treat. Once your dog consistently rolls over for the treat, it's time to give the roll over command without presenting a treat as motivation. If your dog still rolls over immediately, take out a treat after it completes the roll as a reward. Over time, stop rewarding it with a treat after every roll so you can use treats to teach your dog a new trick instead.
- Practice outdoors with distractions. It may be difficult at first for your dog to roll over outdoors. People, other animals, and vehicles make it hard for your dog to concentrate, so it's okay to start practicing with a treat again to help it cope with the distractions. As you did indoors, slowly phase out the treat once your dog becomes proficient. A great way to tell if your dog has truly mastered rolling over is to see if it will follow the roll over command from someone besides yourself.
Long training sessions are draining for both you and your dog, so keep them to around 10 minutes or less in order to maximize productivity.
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