2 Methods For Teaching Your Dog To Roll Over
Training a dog to roll over can be either simple or torturous. Certain dogs learn tricks easily, while others have trouble figuring out what it is you want. But there are certain tried and true methods for teaching your dog to roll over. Try all of these if the first doesn’t work. Every dog is different, so play around with these methods if the first one doesn’t work. Keep in mind, a large factor in your ability to teach your dog new tricks is obedience. When you have a healthy relationship with your pet, he’ll be much more receptive to learning new tricks. Not to mention, it will improve every aspect of your relationship with your dog. Effective dog training is not as hard as you might think.
You have to know what makes your dog tick. Like people, dogs generally have a weakness for something, whether it’s food or attention. If your dog loves food more than attention, you should try the food training technique first. If your dog prefers attention and loving to food, train him by showering him with praise for a job well done. In either case, positive reinforcement is going to work where punishment and negative reinforcement will fail.
Dogs are pack animals. That means they feel the need to belong. If they can’t rule the pack, they want the pack master to like them. So they want to please their owner. That means they will learn tricks, if they are given the proper positive reinforcement for doing so.
Here are two methods for teaching your dog to roll over.
The Standard Method
1. Start with your dog in the “dead dog” position. This is when a dog lies completely on its side, whether it is awake or asleep.
2. Grasp the dog with both hands. One hand should be on his lower front leg. The other should be on his lower back leg.
3. Continuing to grasp the dog, pull your dog over from one dead dog position to the opposite dead dog position. It is common for your dog to catch himself on the way to rolling over. Allow him to do so, where he completes the roll over himself.
4. Praise him for his roll over. If you praise him enough times directly after rolling over, he will know it is something you want him to do.
5. Remember to say “roll over” when you are rolling him over. Do this enough times so that he understands the sound as a command. Dogs can learn a lot more words than we give them credit for. Researchers say 200 to 300 words is not uncommon. Eventually, you can substitute “roll over” for a hand gesture.
You can reinforce the roll over with food treats if you prefer. If your dog responds better to food, you might try a different method, though.
The Food Method
1. Start with your dog in the dead dog position again.
2. Dangle a tasty morsel of food in front of him. When he takes notice, move the food away from his mouth, so he cannot snatch it. Move it down his body past his front leg. This will get his head moving in this direction.
3. Before he begins to stand up, move the food back over his lying body. His head will follow the food morsel, forcing him to roll over in order to snatch the food.
4. When he completes this maneuver, give him the food and praise him for his conduct.
5. You will need to do this several times, until he learns the roll over is something you enjoy him doing. Give him plenty of positive reinforcement for the maneuver. This might require returning later to practice the trick every time, since praise and food treats tend to get a dog excited and moving around.
Become a Teacher
Remember that you need to be patient while training your dog. Your pet can’t read your mind. The best teachers are patient and make learning fun for their student. The best dog trainers have the same skill. Your dog is more likely to learn a new trick when you make him comfortable. If he thinks a rollover trick is part of the usual fun and games, he will more readily go along with what you’re teaching.
When you try to teach your dog a new trick, play with him or pet him for a few minutes first. If he is uncomfortable with you grabbing his legs and manipulating them, then desensitize him to the experience. Pet him as you normally would, then touch and pet his legs as part of the routine.
Within a few minutes, your dog will get used to the new routine. When you begin to roll him over, he will be more comfortable and trusting and more likely to go along with the plan.
If your dog is particularly skittish, you might go through this routine several times before you seriously start to train him to roll over. If your dog shows resistance to roll over attempts, stop trying to roll him over. Attempts to force your dog to roll over will be counterproductive, meaning you will spend more time than needed teaching him the roll over trick.
Don’t Push It
Some dogs have arthritic joints or chronic back pains. These dogs won’t be very responsive when you try to train them to roll over. In fact, you shouldn’t try to teach them. Try to diagnose if your dog should be learning roll over tricks.
If your dog seems to have trouble standing due to seeming stiffness or pain in the hips, that dog shouldn’t be rolling over. Pay especially close attention to bigger dogs and older dogs. Many pure breeds tend to have a genetic predisposition to arthritis. For example, I’ve had a couple of Labs who’ve had trouble in their later years.
Your dog may be unresponsive to training because he’s not healthy enough to perform. The pain of performing the trick might be greater than the enjoyment of a snack or his family’s approval. Learn to recognize this and avoid pushing your dog to do something bad for it.
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