Teaching Your Puppy to Roll Over
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Rollover is a fun behavior I like to include in puppy training. For one, it is so cute to watch a puppy or dog rollover on command and two, it teaches the puppy to trust us because they learn being on their back (a submissive position) is rewarding and we are not going to hurt them.
To teach rollover, we begin with the puppy lying down. Generally, when a puppy or puppy lies down, they tend to shift their hips to one side; one leg is under their body and the other leg is on top of it off to one side. It is easiest to teach a puppy to roll over when they are lying down in this position. Take a treat and lure your puppy’s nose to the side with the hip that is up and off to one side while saying “rollover”.
Bring the puppy’s nose to his knee of that leg and then slowly move the treat up towards his hip and back. Eventually, the puppy will roll over to his side. Continue moving the treat over his back and the puppy will roll onto his back. Take a second to praise while he is in this position and then use the treat to finish the roll. I will sometimes even toss the treat slightly ahead of the roll away from the puppy to encourage him to complete the rollover on his own and do it quickly.
I will warn you, the first rollover is always the easiest because your puppy has no idea that he is about to rollover. The next few times you practice this, your puppy may resist rolling over because they know what’s coming. The key is to really reward after the first rollover and help them to feel they really did something awesome! Over time, as your puppy gets better, the treat lure will become less and less and the puppy will rollover on the verbal command more than the treat lure.
What a fun behavior to show your friends or the vet next time you have a puppy checkup!
The first problem you may encounter is your puppy not lying down with his hips off to one side. In this situation, be patient. The puppy will shift eventually because it is more comfortable . When this happens, seize the moment.
The second problem you may encounter is your puppy refusing to roll over. In this situation, try to break it down into stages. When your puppy rolls onto his side with a lure, stop there, praise and reward. When your puppy is comfortable moving into this position after several repetitions, lure your puppy a little further until he is on his back. Now, stop here and praise and reward.
The idea is to teach your puppy that this position isn’t scary and is, in fact, highly rewarding! Once your puppy will move into this position, you can easily finish the rollover. If you need to give your puppy a slight push to help them over, that is OK just don’t do it every time. Only use it in the beginning until the puppy will roll with a treat lure easily then, get rid of the nudge.