Teaching a dog to play dead or “roll over” is one of the most popular tricks, and it’s easy to teach your dog. In this tutorial I show you step-by-step how to get results from your dog in less than 10 minutes!
Teaching a dog to roll over on command
I like to train tricks because it’s fun for the dog (and me) and also, I believe dogs who know how to do tricks are perceived by other people in a more positive way that dogs who only know basic obedience.
Positive reinforcement is the best way to train your dog. The following step by step instructions are just one of many ways you can teach this trick. You may want to change things up a bit or add something in depending on which commands your dog already knows and what
What you need for this trick
The first thing you need is an enthusiastic attitude and some irresistible treats! The treats should be something soft that your dog loves, something that will motivate him to do whatever you ask.
It’s also helpful if your dog is hungry because then he will really get into this trick. If you feed him just prior to training, set aside some of that meal for later. You will need both the high value treat PLUS his regular kibble when he does the trick perfectly.
Related: Most Common Dog Training Mistakes
The steps of the process
Step 1: Get your dog’s attention and get him to sit down.
Step 2: Hold a treat in front of his nose and slowly move it up and over, so it lands on the other side of his head. Your goal is for your dog to follow the treat with his nose and then roll over onto his back. If he doesn’t roll over, don’t worry. Your dog is just not coordinated enough to do it on his own.
Step 3: When the treat lands on the floor behind your dog’s head, use your other hand to push down on his rump while simultaneously pushing forward with the treat in front of his nose. This step really helps to get your dog to roll over.
Step 4: When your dog is on his back, hold the treat in front of his nose so he can smell it. He’ll probably try to roll onto his belly so keep holding him there with one hand while you give him the treat with your other hand.
Step 5: Once your dog rolls over easily when you push down on his rump and lure him with the treat, start saying “roll over” as you lure him. Dogs learn tricks faster if they know what behavior is expected of them before you give the command to do it.
Step 6: Once your dog is doing well with the “roll over” trick, start using a hand signal to go with it. Making a rolling motion with your flattened palm will help your dog understand that he’s supposed to roll over when you make that signal.
Step 7: Once your dog can do this trick on cue, practice asking him to do it when he’s not expecting it. Start by asking him to do several tricks in a row, and then ask for the roll over when he gets to his feet after sitting or lying down.
Tips and tricks for success
The best way to teach your dog how to do tricks is with positive reinforcement. Be enthusiastic and act happy about what you’re teaching your dog. Your dog will then be more likely to want to please you.
If your dog needs more motivation than just the food treats, consider using his favorite game or toy as the reward. Playing tug-of-war with him is most motivating when he knows that after playing the game you’re both going to do something fun like train for 5 minutes.
Don’t worry about doing things perfectly. If your dog doesn’t follow the treat or turns the wrong way, you can still get good results if you work at it long enough. Be patient and keep trying.
The other thing to remember is that dogs learn at different speeds, so don’t get discouraged if your dog doesn’t practice this trick as often or as quickly as you’d like. In addition, dogs who are older or have disabilities may not be able to do certain tricks. And each dog is unique and has his own personality, so some dogs just aren’t as eager to please as others.
Common mistakes people make when teaching their dog to roll over
People often make the mistake of not rewarding their dog enough times when he first starts learning a new trick. Even if your dog is eager to please, you still have to show him that he’s done what you wanted by giving him his treat.
If you don’t give treats or play games after asking your dog to do a few tricks in a row, he probably won’t want to do any more. And if you forget to reward him for doing the roll over trick, he’s not likely to do it again next time unless you remember his treat or game.
People also make mistakes by rewarding their dog too much when he does something they like. Basically, this means they give the treat before the dog has really done what they wanted. If you reward your dog too often, he’ll think that whatever he’s doing at the moment is the right thing instead of being motivated to try new things.
That means you have to give treats or play games after your dog does something wrong just as often as you do it when he does something right.