How I Taught My Dog The Rollover Trick

How I Taught Missy The Rollover Dog Trick

Missy finally learned the rollover dog trick, yay!

I’ll have to let you in on a little secret though. For the longest time, I thought that Missy would just not get it.

Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated in 2023. It contains affiliate links I may earn compensation through at no additional cost to you. 

Her brother Buzz picked up the rollover dog trick real quick. He only needed a few weeks and I think that his goofiness played a major part in it.

Regal puppy Missy, however, only completed a half roll for almost O N E year. Then she’d lie on her side and look at me as if to say “What? You expect more? Well, not today. Now where’s my treat?”

I was stoked when she finally completed a full rollover.

Pretty sure our neighbors heard my screams of excitement too, but hey, sometimes a few celebratory screams are OK.

How I taught my dog the rollover trick

Especially after practicing for a year!

Ever since, it’s as if Missy’s “rollover dog trick” switch has been turned on because she now has this dog trick down pat.

How I Taught Missy The Rollover Dog Trick

Here’s how I trained the rollover dog trick in 3 easy steps:

Step 1: Ask Your Dog To “Down”

My first step in teaching the rollover dog trick was to put Missy (and Buzz, respectively) in a “down” position.

We actually learned in basic obedience class that there is a “bullshit down position”.

Our trainer Rhonda explained that a dog needs to look like he or she is resting in a comfortable position, and not ready to jump back on their feet within a millisecond.

Turns out that I had taught the pups to associate “down” with being in a “bullshit down position” prior to our dog training class.

So we used the add on “all the way” to assume the relaxed “down” Rhonda was after.

How I Taught My Dog The Rollover Trick - Step 1
Missy in a relaxed “down”

Step 2: Lure Your Dog Into Rolling Over With A Treat

The next step was to grab a yummy dog training treat from my dog treat bag, and kneel right in front of Missy.

I would then stretch out my treat hand so that she could clearly see the treat right in front of her face.

Then I would slowly move my hand clockwise towards her right side and continually move it in that direction until it would be back by my side, i.e. Missy’s left side.

I chose her right side only because that’s the side I wanted her to rollover on. You can also practice rolling around the other way, towards the left. Just move your hand counter-clockwise and start on the left side of your dog.

The ultimate objective here was for Missy to follow my movement with her entire body, which would make her flip over during the process.

As mentioned above, it took us a little while to get there, so if your dog is a slower learner like Missy, don’t get discouraged and just keep practicing.

She’ll get it eventually πŸ™‚

Tip: I recommend using small dog treats that don’t take a lot of time to eat because you want your dog to keep focusing on you, and not be overly distracted by the treat.

For example, Instinct Raw Boost Lamb Mixers, ideally stored in a dog treat bag.

Freeze-dried raw boost lamb mixers are great for dog trick training

Step 3: Associate A Cue With The Rollover Dog Trick

The idea in dog trick training is to associate a cue with the desired behavior.

In our case, I wanted the pups to associate the word “rollover” with exactly that, them rolling over.

But of course you can use any word you want. For example, you could also associate “over” or “roll roll” or whatever else you can think of.

Typically, you want to say your cue right when your pup performs the desired behavior.

How I Taught My Dog The Rollover Trick - Step 3

But since it took us a little longer, I would say “rollover” after even the smallest motion into the right direction, followed by rewarding that motion with a treat and verbal praise.

Now that Missy knows the trick all the way, she’s able to figure out what I want her to do when I say “Missy, rollover”.

I also added a hand signal to my voice command once the pups rolled over reliably. I simply moved my right index finger in a circle while saying “rollover” which the pups understood pretty quickly.

Tip: Hand signals are a great way of teaching deaf dogs tricks and obedience commands!

Also: Don’t Forget To Have FUN Teaching The Trick

Having fun while dog trick training is super important to me AND of course also to the pups.

They respond much better when I ask them to perform or practice a trick in a happy voice and a positive demeanor as opposed to an angry and frustrated one.

After all, who is willing to perform when they’re being yelled at?

It always boggles my mind when I hear people screaming and yelling at their dogs (usually to “come” or to “sit, sit, SIT, SIT &*%$“).

Do they really think that their dogs are more likely to respond when they’re frustrated? I guess they must.

Be that as it may, we are all about having fun when training a new command.

When I’m not in the right mood to practice a command, I don’t even bother.

There’s no point in trying to start a training session when other things are on my mind that preoccupy me. It would simply be a waste of time and energy.

Keep Dog Trick Training Sessions Short

This one goes hand in hand with having fun while dog training.

Training sessions don’t have to be long at all and are much more effective when you split them up in smaller increments, like 5-10 minutes max.

I like to incorporate a trick training session before breakfast and/or dinner and found TV commercial breaks to be the perfect window of dog training opportunity, ha!

No Dog Trick Training For 60 Minutes After Feeding

I never exercise the pups or train any behavior that requires physical movement up to 60 minutes after feeding.

I do that for the same reason I wouldn’t go for a run right after I just ate (hello, full stomach).

While I would “just” throw up, a dog’s stomach can actually flip on itself which is a deadly condition if it’s not treated right away. That condition is called bloat.

You can read more about it in my blog post When Not To Exercise Your K9 – Avoiding Bloat.

Update 2023: My Pup Wally Learned The Rollover Dog Trick As Well!

9 Months after Missy lost her battle with cancer, I adopted Wally in early 2019 from a rescue organization in Central NC.

He’s a 38 lb Feist mix who’s just as food-motivated as Missy was, so I also used dog treats to teach him the rollover dog trick.

Specifically, the Calming Support kind by Instinct Raw Boost Mixers. These days, I mostly use Mighty Paw’s dog treat pouch 2.0 to store my dog training treats.

Dog trick training with Instinct Raw Boost Mixers

Interestingly enough, it also took him a while and he actually learned the “play dead” trick first. That’s where he’s lying on his side after he started rolling over, but doesn’t complete a full rollover.

Wally the Feist dog shows off his rollover dog trick

How To Teach The Rollover Dog Trick: Bottom Line

Any sort of dog training is great for bonding with my pups, and BOY have we bonded over the course of training this “rollover dog trick” command!

Yes, Missy, this is particularly geared towards you. I’m proud of both of us for following through and not giving up, even when it seemed unlikely you’d get it.

Have you taught your dog the rollover trick or another fun command? As always, I’d love to hear form you in the comment section below this blog post.

Wally practicing the rollover trick

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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4 responses to “How I Taught Missy The Rollover Dog Trick”

  1. Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets Avatar
    Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

    I’m so glad to read this! I gave up on roll over with Luke quite a while ago. But he might have just been in the “bullshit down” position when we started – I can’t remember for sure now. But this gives me hope for trying it again.
    I almost always use hand signals with training Luke, because he actually understands and responds better to those than the voice commands!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Lol, maybe he was in that position πŸ˜‰ Here’s to trying again!
      That’s awesome that you use hand signals. They come in handy, too, when you happen to have the flu or a nasty cold that impacts your ability to speak.

  2. Beth Avatar

    This is what I’m working on with my new puppy now! Barley rolls and unrolls (the opposite direction)–but she’s not the most graceful, so I’m hoping that Rye can learn to do it a little more smoothly πŸ™‚

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Haha, sweet Barley! Buzz is also not the most graceful when he rolls πŸ˜‰ Much success with puppy Rye!

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