There’s an almost endless list of tricks you can teach your dog to keep the two of you entertained, and friends and family members laughing. Roll Over is an all-time favorite, especially beloved because, while some tricks are off-limits to puppies because their bodies are still developing, Roll Over is safe to teach dogs of any age.
- Start with your dog lying down. (If you haven’t already taught down, go here.)
- Notice whether your dog lies down squarely in “sphinx” position or rocks onto one hip. If she’s resting on one hip, encourage her to roll in that direction. If she’s lying down squarely, she can roll either way.
- Put a treat in front of her nose and move it toward her rib cage on the side she’s rolled away from (on either side if she’s square), with the treat in your hand on the same side. That is, if she’s rolled onto her right hip, move the treat toward her left-side rib cage with the treat in your right hand.
- As she follows the treat with her nose, mark her effort (with the click of a clicker or a verbal marker, such as the word “Yes!”) and give her a treat. Don’t try roll over yet! The idea is to reward her successively more accurate efforts, thus “shaping” the behavior you’re after. Put another treat in front of her nose and move it toward her rib cage again, repeating multiple times, and using your marker and giving her a treat each time she follows the treat with her nose.
- When she’s eagerly following the treat each time, move it just a little farther toward her spine with each repetition. Go slow! If you go too far too fast she might try to get up, instead, or balk if she feels like she’s stretching as far as she can. Preserve her loose willingness to follow the treat with lots of praise and encouragement.
- As she continues to follow the treat, she’ll roll farther onto her hip, then onto her side, then feet up in the air, and finally all the way over. Go slow and steady so she doesn’t get scared. Mark and treat all of her progress, with multiple repetitions at each step. When she’ll do it easily, add your verbal cue before you lure, then remember to fade the lure. You did it, yay! Now go show off!