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It’s a hot day and you’ve resorted to the house for cool air and a cold beverage, but your rather large dog is sat staring at you, demanding attention. Let’s be honest, he’s not going to give up until he gets it. So, why not make the most of that time and teach him something useful? Something fun, like a neat party trick for when friends and family come over. Why not teach him to roll over?
If you have a particularly large dog, then it’s an even more entertaining trick to be able to pull off. Nothing guarantees a giggle more than seeing a Great Dane or Newfoundland rolling across your living room floor. Plus, this trick is quick and easy to teach, so with a few simple steps, you’ll have a Snapchat story that will be watched by everyone.
The command can be given with just a couple of words and should see your dog take to the floor lying on its front. Then he should do a complete 360, taking to his back before returning to lying on his front again. The command actually consists of two steps. The first is getting the dog to lie down, the second being the roll itself.
The command itself is not overly difficult. If you can train your dog to sit or wait, then achieving the roll is definitely within your capabilities too. The very same day you start training, you could have a furry rolling pin for your floors! Some dogs pick it up in less than an hour, and from then you just need to regularly practice with your dog over a week or two, to ensure the command sticks. Dogs of all ages are capable of getting to grips with this trick, including puppies and older dogs with a silver lining.
Before getting started with training you need to ensure you have several things. One thing you definitely need, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, is food or treats. If you want quick and effective results, you need some tasty smelling food to act as an incentive. Alternatively, you could use a toy treat, such as a tennis ball.
You will also need a quiet room with some space that’s free from distractions. You don’t want your large dog rolling into a table and bringing its contents crashing down to the floor. Apart from that, just bring a ‘can-do’ attitude and patience!
Now you’re all ready to get started with the steps outlined below.
The Full 360 Method
Command your dog to lie down
Your dog needs to be lying down on his front before the trick starts. You want his paws to be outstretched and his head looking up so he can hear and see you for the next part.
Hold a treat near your dog’s face
You want to draw your dog’s attention to the fact that food could soon be available. Allow the dog to get a good whiff of the treat, but keep your hand firmly closed so he cannot get to it. This will help them to understand something needs to be done to open the food gates.
Say ‘roll over’ and slowly rotate the food across their face
The aim is to arc the food over your dog’s head, with his nose following the treat until he has fully rolled over. You are leading with your hand and saying ‘roll over’ in a friendly voice, so he’ll associate the food with the roll, and the roll with the physical cue.
Support your dog with your free hand
Your dog probably isn’t going to get it the first time, so use your other hand to help him gently roll over until he realizes what you’re asking him to do. After each roll, with or without assistance, give him a treat straight away and praise him in a friendly voice so he knows he’s done a good job.
Keep practicing and slowly reduce treats
Practice makes perfect, so keep repeating the trick until your dog has got the hang of it. As they get better at the trick, slowly reduce the frequency of a treat at the end.
The Break it Down Method
Crouch down and get your dog to lie down
Once lying down on his front, hold the treat close to his face to capture his attention.
Lead the command with your hand
Using your treat-filled hand, turn his nose towards their shoulder by rotating your hand over his head.
Get him to flop onto one side
Your dog’s nose will follow the treat until he loses balance and flop onto their side. When this happens, give him the treat and shower him with verbal praise.
Help him roll onto his other side
This time repeat the trick, but add in another step and use your hand to get him to roll onto the other side. When he loses balance and flops to the side, give him the treat and verbal praise again.
The Full Works
Now it’s time to get him to complete a full roll in one complete move. Again, use your hand and lead their nose until they rotate completely in one go. Swiftly give them the treat and verbal praise, then just keep practicing!
The Toy Treat Method
Get level with your dog and command him to ‘lie down’
Once he’s lying down, hold your toy of choice close to his face, but so it’s firmly in your control.
Use the toy to lead him
Give the ‘roll over’ command and slowly rotate the toy across their head so they follow it and roll over.
As soon as he has completed the roll, give him the toy to play with and show how pleased you are with friendly verbal praise.
Offer a helping hand
Your dog may need some support to start with, so use your spare hand to gently roll him over. This will help him understand what it is you are asking of him.
You need to keep practicing with your dog even after he has successfully completed the roll and reinforce the command until it is firmly their memory. As you do this, slowly reduce the frequency of the toy and praise.
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 09/20/2017, edited: 01/08/2021