Problems teaching "roll over/play dead"

Discussion in 'Dog Training: Principle and Practice' started by Severah, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Severah

    Severah Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2019
    Messages:
    2
    Hello everyone! Long time lurker here.
    I have two dogs, a one year old girl and a two year old boy. I enjoy teaching them little tricks just for the fun of it and both of them are pretty smart and tend to catch on really quickly. We're currently working on "roll over". What I did was to put her in a down, asked her to stay, then slowly lured her head to the side with a treat (towards her shoulder) so that she had to "fall over" in order to follow the treat. Then reward generously and lots of praise. The boy got it within two sessions and is already rolling over without a problem. The girl....not at all. As soon as I move the treat to her side she gets up into a sit or gets up completely. After some more training I can now get her to stay down long enough to follow the treat with her head towards her shoulder but then at the very last second before she'd have to flop over onto her side she gets up. I tried giving her a tiny push once, but that only seemed to confuse her more and didn't help so I'm not doing that again. We had a similar problem with "shake" where she didn't get it for the longest time, but all it took was to find a way for her to naturally paw at me by herself (outside of training sessions) and reward that and then go from there. She learned giving me left or right paw on command within minutes after that. I can't find a way for her to just "accidentally" flop onto her side though. There's no doubt in my mind that the second she finally understand what I want from her she'll be rolling over all over the place. I even had the other dog do it in front of her multiple times, thinking that might give her a hint... ;)

    Any ideas? How did you teach that trick?
     
  2. Bud Light/Dilly Dilly

    Bud Light/Dilly Dilly Registered Users

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2018
    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    You seem to be doing it right. Sometimes it just takes a while. Also, she may simply may not like to do it. If she is about a year old, I'm assuming she is almost full grown and pretty big at this point. What surface do you practice on? If it's a hard surface, that could be an issue for her. My dog isn't a huge fan of rolling over. He will do it, but only on grass or on our carpet. Any hard surface, forget it. I don't want him doing it on hard surfaces anyway. I assume it doesn't feel good on their backs.

    I would try to do it with shaping with a clicker if what you're doing continues to be unsuccessful. Do the roll over command and click and treat when she makes any movement towards laying on her side, since that is the next step to rolling over after you've gotten her to lay down. Even if it's a tiny movement to where you want her to go, click and treat. Maybe hold her back down gently to ensure she doesn't sit back up while you hold the treat to lure her into the position you want. Eventually, she should get on her side. Once she lays down in a play dead position, the trick is much easier. You can lure her with the treat and gently push her over to complete the roll. Then click and treat. It's a matter of baby steps and shaping her into the positions that you desire. Maybe someone else can offer some additional tips and advice, but that's what I would do.
     
  3. Bud Light/Dilly Dilly

    Bud Light/Dilly Dilly Registered Users

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2018
    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    To add...I think it's easier to teach a dog play dead first. Then once they have that down, which is basically laying on their side, it's a lot easier to get them to complete the roll.
     
  4. Severah

    Severah Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2019
    Messages:
    2
    Thank you for your reply!
    Yes, we're training on carpet and yes we're working on "play dead" first. I should have mentioned that in my original post.
    Someone else told me to put the treats closer to her nose so that she can lick them as I lure her. That helped a tiny bit. She still gets up into a sit or stands up all the way the split second before she would have to flop onto her side. I'll keep trying what you said and go for baby steps. And if it won't work - well, it's not exactly a big deal. We're doing this for fun after all. Maybe she just does not want to roll over. I accidentally started teaching her to scoot on her belly while trying to teach her to lie on her side so...maybe we'll just do that instead!
    Thank you again, your help was much appreciated!
     
    Bud Light/Dilly Dilly likes this.
  5. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    May 26, 2018
    Messages:
    1,508
    Location:
    Blackmans Bay, Australia
    Hi @Severah

    I found the following linked video excellent on explaining the various steps involved in the trick you are attempting. You do not need to use a clicker. A conditioned marker such as the word Yes will work just as well.

     
  6. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2018
    Messages:
    1,365
    Location:
    Jersey, Channel Islands
    It's a bit hard to give training advice when it comes to detailed body stuff using verbal descriptions, so I wonder if you can film what you are currently attempting?

    Make sure you are training on something soft - a mat or vet bed - since some dogs are reluctant to roll over on hard or cold floors...
     

Share This Page