Karlin's Dog Blog

Teaching 'rollover'

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Yesterday evening I had all the dogs to the park and while Leo and Jaspar kept busy chasing a fetch toy or playing tug of war, I did a little obedience work, just basic commands, with Lucy and Lily. Then I decided to work on 'rollover' with Lily, who is so darn food motivated that training anything is pretty easy once she gets the idea that a certain behaviour brings FOOOOOOD!!

She's a smart little dog too (though a total flibbertygibbet with poor self control) so it only took about 15 minutes for her to get the idea. It is a pretty easy trick to teach -- ask for a down, then holding treat just in front of and close to their head, start to cross your hand over their head and they will tend to start to roll to follow it over. You can reward those intermediate steps and click them and reward if clicker training (I forgot to grab a clicker so didn't have this very handy training tool with me). Soon she was willing to roll to follow the food completely over.

As soon as she did a whole roll she gets bonus extra treats and extra praise. Once she has started rolling fairly smoothy I start to give the command as she does the roll so that she starts to link the action she has *already learned* to the cue. Then once she gets this you try the cue alone and see if it gets the action. This last bit takes a while and takes patience but there's always that 'eureka!' moment where the dog is trying a range of behaviours to se if you will treat then decides to try the one you have just been teaching. At that point they get a jackpot of extra treats and lots of praise and that usually really helps fix the cue and the desired action.

We ran out of treats just as she'd started making the connection so tomorrow I will take some time with her alone and see if I can definitely fix the cue and the action. Jaspar learned 'rollover' at about 6 month old in about 30 minutes using a bag of crisps as his rewards -- not that healthy but it was all I had at the time and he was delighted wit them!

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  1. Moviedust's Avatar
    I was teaching Cedar to roll over a while back, then I took her as 'demo dog' to my training class. She was supposed to demonstrate a recall-down with hand signals, which she normally could do no problem. Instead, she stopped, dropped, and rolled. :S
  2. Kristy's Avatar
    just curious. what is a good age to start trying to teach commands such as this?
  3. Karlin's Avatar
    Instead, she stopped, dropped, and rolled. :S
    -- it's funny when the new cue is stuck in their heads and pushes out the old ones...

    what is a good age to start trying to teach commands
    I taught Jaspar rollover when he was only a few months old. It is a bit more complicated than basic commands but we kept it fun and for puppies it is important never to expect a lot when they are under 6 months. You are really laying fun groundwork for more concentrated training they can handle when a bit older. Kind of like kindergarten vs. gradeschool. Jaspar could do this at 4-5 months fairly well but he is very sharp and easy to train.
  4. islewriter's Avatar
    A wonderful insight into the training and enjoyment of the Cavalier King Charles - and a joy to read.