Wondering how to teach your puppy to roll over? Glad you asked – it’s definitely a fun trick you can add to your puppy’s training repertoire. It’s a great way to show off to your friends, but it also means that you and your puppy are rolling into fun memories together. 

In this article we will:

  • Tell you how to teach your puppy to roll over in 5 easy steps
  • Give you tips on how to teach your puppy to roll over with flying colours
  • Help you with any problems you might run into 
  • Talk about why trick training your puppy is not just for fun, but why it’s great for everyone involved

Cavalier King Charles puppy

How to teach your puppy to roll over in 5 easy steps

Teaching your puppy to roll over, is like many things your puppy will learn, a step by step process. We’ve broken it down for you into little pieces, and put up a video in our Zigzag puppy training app to make following along even easier. But of course, if you need even more explanations, our team of Puppy Training Experts will be happy to pick up the phone when you call. 

You will need:

  • Soft small, smelly treats that your puppy is fond of. We know about the abundance of dog treats our dear pet stores can offer, so you might want to take a look at our article for our reviews of the best puppy treats.
  • A soft comfortable surface for your puppy such as a rug or carpet.
  • A naked puppy – no harness on for this one as it won’t be comfortable for them!

Step 1

  1. Lure your puppy into the down position. You should see them lean onto one side of their body – as if they were about to relax onto their side.
  2. Take the treat onto their nose and lure your puppy’s head round to midway between bottom of their ribs and pelvis
  3. Use your marker word ‘good’ and reward them. Good job puppy!
  4. Repeat this between 3 and 5 times.
  5. Now move the treat a little further towards your puppy’s spine or as far as they can stretch without causing discomfort/coming out of the down position. Did they do it? Yay! Say your marker word’ good’ and reward.
  6. Repeat this three to five times.
  7. Take a break – you and your puppy have earned it! Practice this again later in the day and see if your puppy has started picking it up. Move on to the next step when they’ve got this step and your puppy is happily following the treat. 

Pro Tip: Some puppies will get this faster than others, as this is a shaping exercise where we are breaking the behaviour down into tiny little steps towards the end goal, you can always break it down further. Go at your puppy’s pace! You’ll get there in the end.

Step 2

  1. With your puppy in the down position, bring the lure around to the previous step you got to. Now you’re going to move it up a little so that their head comes up.
  2. Use your marker word ‘good’ when you’re up there and give your puppy the treat when their head is back in a neutral position. 
  3. Repeat this between three to five times then move on to Step 3.

Step 3

Nice job! Now we’re going to try the full roll over – exciting!

  1. Do the same as in Step 2 but when you bring the lure up, slowly continue to move it past your puppy’s body. They will slowly follow the lure so that they roll onto their back. Yes! Continue bringing it further around until they do a complete rollover
  2. Use your marker word ‘good’ and give them the reward when their head is back in neutral position (and not pointing up towards the ceiling!). 
  3. Repeat this between 3 to 5 times, and then give your puppy a well-deserved break.
  4. Practice this again later on the same day and move onto the following step when your puppy is reliably following the food lure and doing a complete roll over.

Cute puppy looking at camera

Pro Tips: 

  • Hands off! It can be really tempting to give your puppy a hand with the rollover with a little push to make sure they roll. Let’s avoid this as we want to make sure your puppy is fully learning what to do with their body, and we don’t want to undo all your good work.
  • Don’t feed your puppy when they’re upside down on their back! It’s quite uncomfortable and they might choke…no one wants that!

Step 4

Now, it’s time to remove the treat from our hands and start turning it into a hand signal.

  1. Pretend to have a treat in your hand and then use the same hand action you were using in step 3 to get your puppy to do a full roll over.
  2. When your puppy follows your hand and does a full roll over, say your marker word ‘good’, and reward them with the treat when your puppy is back the right way up.
  3. Repeat this between three to five times and then take a break
  4. Practice Step 4 a few times a day for several days until they’ve got a good grasp of the hand signal. 

Pro Tip: Rub some treats on your luring finger so the smell is on them if your puppy is getting stuck when you’re not using the treat. Now you can fully embrace your sausage fingers.

Step 5

Now, it’s time to add a verbal cue so when you say ‘roll over’ your puppy, indeed, rolls over and you are left feeling like a magician.

  1. Say the cue you are going to use for ‘rollover’. Could also be something like ‘do the burrito’.
  2. Count to three in your head.
  3. Give your hand signal so that your puppy rolls over.
  4. Mark it with your marker word ‘good’, and give your puppy the treat.
  5. Repeat this between three to five times and then take a break.
  6. Come back to it later that day and repeat. 
  7. Now, try doing it without the hand signal after – did your puppy roll over with only the magic words? Awesome!

German Shepherd puppy lying down

Useful extra tips for teaching your puppy to roll over successfully

  • Slow is always the way to go when teaching a puppy to roll over. It’s the way for your puppy to progress stress-free, even if it means that the steps may take longer than we’ve suggested. No problem!

  • Try mixing up the training so you’re not always teaching them to roll over. Your puppy eventually needs to know that a ‘down’ isn’t always followed by a rollover…sometimes we’re happy with them lying down. 

  • How to teach a puppy to roll over is probably not best after a big meal – we don’t want your puppy feeling a little queasy.

  • Besides making them feel a little dizzy, the roll over can be quite physically challenging for some puppies, so let’s keep the practice sessions rather short.

  • Make sure your puppy is comfortable on the floor you’re working on. A carpet, rug or yoga mat are all rather nice and cushiony while they’re learning.
  • Remember, it can simply be the case that the roll over is just not your puppy’s preferred ‘party trick’. No worries, there are still plenty with which they can shine –  our Zigzag puppy training app has plenty for you to teach them. We can’t all be good at the same things, right? 

Teaching your puppy how to roll over is a fun trick that is also fantastic for their mental development. 

But trick training is meant to be a fun thing – we don’t put as much pressure on ourselves or our puppies to ‘get it right’. We don’t want to be those people. Let’s keep it stress free, and as a generally good experience to help strengthen your relationship. 

Why not download the Zigzag puppy training app? We have a wild library of tricks for you to learn as well as other important lessons in socialisation, habituation and plenty of useful life skills for your puppy to live happily and confidently. We also have a team of Puppy Training Experts who are there ready and willing to help you with any questions you might have around puppy training. Why not give them a call?

Looking for more great puppy training advice and tips? Check out our guide on obedience training, next.