How to Teach Your Dog to Roll Over

Hey Mighty Paw Fam, Barbara here to talk to you about how you can teach your dog to roll over!

Trick training in general is a great way for your dog to build confidence in their ability to do things. It's also a great way to strengthen the bond between yourself and your pup, so what's not to love?!

have some trick training fun with your dog and teach them how to roll over

The roll over trick is a really cute trick that you can practice and perform both inside and outside, obviously depending on the size of your pup and your home.

Smaller dogs have a little advantage with learning this trick because they have much smaller bodies to roll around than large dogs. 

But technically speaking, all dogs can learn to roll over on command, it may just take some a little while longer than others.

In this blog post, I'll share three different ways to teach your pup the command as well as when NOT to ask your dog to roll over.

Ready for some trick training? Let's jump right in! 

How to Teach Your Dog to Roll Over

how to teach your dog to roll over

1. Capturing

The quickest way to teach your dog to do ANYTHING on command is to catch them when they're doing the specific behavior ON THEIR OWN.

That's called capturing.

All you need to do is associate a command with the behavior.

For example, all dogs sit on their own, lie down on their own and also roll over on their own, right?

So technically speaking, you don't have to teach them how to roll over (or sit or lie down) because they already know how to do that. 

What you DO have to teach them is to roll over ON COMMAND.

Here's how to do that:

  • When your dog rolls over just because they feel like it, say "roll over".
  • Add a hand signal to the behavior. You could make a rotating movement with your hand for example.
  • Praise! "Good boy/girl" and reward them with a yummy treat or toy on top of it, whichever they enjoy the most.

Repeat that whenever you see them rolling over, and they'll soon start making the connection between their behavior and your command!

2. Shaping

Another method for teaching dogs certain behaviors is to break them down into individual steps that your dog ultimately performs one after the other, in one swift motion.

So in order to teach your dog how to roll over, you can break that behavior down into 3 steps:

  1. From a standing or sitting position into a "down".
  2. From the "down" onto their side.
  3. Rolling over from one side to the other side.

How to get your dog to lie down:

Hold a favorite training treat or (squeaky) toy right in front of their face where they can clearly see it. Next, lower it slowly until it reaches the floor between their front paws. Your dog will automatically follow your motion which results in lying down.

Once they do, say "down", good boy/girl and reward with the treat or toy.

Add a hand signal to that behavior. A commonly used one for the "down" command is your stretched out hand with your palm facing towards the ground. 

use a hand signal to teach your dog to lie down


How to get your dog to move from a "down" onto their side:

Grab another treat or use their favorite toy. Hold it next to their mouth and slowly move it in direction of their ears in a slightly upward motion.

**Make sure not to move it too high or your pup will jump back up to get to it!**

Your dog will follow your movement with their head which will result in them lying on their side.

Say "side", add your verbal praise and reward with the treat or toy. 

Add a hand signal to that behavior. This could be your stretched out hand turned vertically.

add a hand signal when your dog lies down on their side


How to get your dog to roll over from one side to the other:

Grab another treat or toy and hold it right next to their mouth. VERY slowly move it in a circular motion over their head and onto the other side of their head.

Again, make sure that you're not holding it up too high to prevent your dog from jumping up.

The hand signal you can use for this behavior is a rotating motion with your hand.

This is where some dogs get confused on what you want them to do, so don't be discouraged if your pup doesn't get it right away.

Just keep practicing!

add a hand signal to teach your dog how to roll over

3. Luring

If your pup's a quick learner, you can also lure them into the behavior in one swift motion rather than breaking it up into several steps. 

To do this, have your dog stand.

Grab your treat or toy and slowly move it toward the floor in-between your dog's paws so that they follow your movement and lie down.

Don't offer them the reward yet but keep moving it!

You'll want to move it slightly upwards towards your dog's ears and then over their head onto the other side.

When your pup follows your motion and rolls over onto their other side, say "roll over", praise and give them their treat or toy!

Tip: Use one of our Treat Pouches to hold your dog's training treats and/or a (squeaky) ball. Save 20% with code TRAIN20!

  • Our Treat Pouch 2.0 features a magnetic closure and 4 storage options. Wear it 4 different ways (clip it to your pants, wear it around your waist, across your upper body or over your shoulder.
Use the Mighty Paw treat pouch 2.0 to teach your dog how to roll over
The Mighty Paw Treat Pouch 2.0 holds 2 cups of treats which makes it great for trick training, and it also has 3 additional storage options


  • Our Original Treat Pouch has a drawstring closure and 3 storage options. You wear it on a belt around your waist.

 Mighty Paw Treat Pouch

Use discount code TRAIN20 to get 20% off either of our treat pouches! Offer valid 02/07-02/13.

Alternative: How to "Play Dead" 

If your dog only makes it from a "down" onto his side and refuses to roll over, you can also name THAT behavior! For example, "play dead" or "freeze".

I actually taught my pup Wally to "play dead" before I taught him how to "roll over". It took him quite some time to realize that we were working on another trick and that I wanted him to keep moving from his previously final position.

But eventually he got it and he can now differentiate between the two.

When Not to Ask Your Dog to Roll Over

It's not a good idea to exercise your pup or practice tricks after they've just eaten because that can cause bloat.

That's when the stomach twists on itself and cuts off your dog's oxygen supply. Unless that condition gets treated by a vet right away, it can end deadly.

Bloat particularly tends to happen in dogs with large chests, but any dog can get it, so it's definitely better to err on the safe side!

So hold off on any physical activity, including practicing the rollover command, for about an hour after your pup has eaten.

Happy trick training and confidence building!

-> Remember to use discount code TRAIN20 to get 20% off either of our treat pouches! Offer valid 02/07-02/13:

**Did you know? We’re offering free U.S. shipping on ALL orders!**

view all products

Barbara Rivers writes regularly for Mighty Paw. She is a blogger, raw feeder, former dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also like: 

How to Potty Train Your Dog with Bells

P.S. We'd love to invite you to our Facebook Furlings group! It's a closed group with exclusive benefits for members only:

  • Access to occasional pre-production products in return for honest feedback
  • Opportunity to peek behind the scenes: Get to know Mighty Paw on a more personal level
  • Be part of a community of like-minded dog lovers: Find dog training resources and get inspired and motivated by 2,600+  fellow Furlings

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.