Core Strength Training for Dogs: Roll Over

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When it comes to strengthening a dog’s core, there are many exercises that a pet owner can choose from. Few of these are as fun (for the dog) as the roll over. Roll over is one of those commands that many dog parents use when they begin training their dog. It is commonly used after sit and down, and is often used to show off how well the dog is trained. Yet, most people are not aware that it is also a great core exercise.


The Roll Over Exercise

In some ways, the roll over reminds me of the Pilates exercise roll like a ball. The roll like a ball is a fun exercise that, when performed properly, will really target the core muscles. Although it is easy enough to perform the roll like a ball, it is much harder to perform it properly and in a way that works the abs. To do so, you must not use momentum but rather, focus on using the core to control the move up and down. I suppose the same is true for the roll over, although it will be harder to explain the ‘core connection’ concept to your dog and that they are not supposed to use momentum to roll over!


This is jack rolling around after a bath, but it’s the exact movement you want for this exercise.


When practicing the roll over with a dog, I recommend a relatively soft surface like grass or a carpeted area in the home or gym, and a handful of small, low calorie treats. Start with the dog in a down position and a treat in hand. Show the treat to the dog and have them track it as you slowly move it toward the shoulder. The dog’s body will follow so at first, they should be on their side. Then, the dog will usually start to roll over as you move the treat further away and down their spine. Use a voice command, like “roll” or “roll over” so that the dog will learn to perform the exercise without a treat.


When practicing the roll over, it is extremely important to roll in both directions for an equal number of repetitions. This will keep their muscles in balance and ensure that the core is strong throughout.


Roll Over Progression

The roll over requires a strong core to perform on any surface. Once the dog is capable of completing this move for multiple repetitions, the progression is to have them roll up an incline. The exercise is performed in the same way, only the dog’s lead side is facing the incline. The additional resistance of the incline will make the move more difficult. Again, remember to practice the roll over for the same number of repetitions on both sides.


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  1. teaching roll over really helps us at the vet clinic also when we need to examine a dog on it’s side and we want to roll them over to examine the other side. Usually this is done when checking out the back legs.
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  2. You are pretty funny, Jack. Bailie is the only one who performs rollover on command at our house, but she will only do it in one direction. Maybe Mom can work harder with her and see if she can do it the other way.
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  3. Jack that’s 100% Dog n’ Roll and I like it!!!! My momma always fears the twisted stomach when I roll around, she is a Howl-i-coter on two legs :o)
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  4. Roll over is Penny’s favorite trick!
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  5. We actually finally mastered the roll over on command this year 😉 So far, we’ve only been doing it on the carpeted area in our living room, and only in one direction. Thanks for the input about rolling in both directions AND on an incline!! That’ll be fun to incorporate!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Comment on Scrumptious Dog Food Delivered in Style by FeedPetPurveyor ~ Grandma Lucy’s Freeze-Dried Dog Food by K9sOverCoffeeMy Profile

  6. Roll over is one of my favorite commands to teach because it inevitably includes some hilarious miscues.

  7. Jack looks so cute rolling around in the grass. Barley never rolls around on her own, but she does know roll–and “unroll” in the opposite direction–so she can do it on command. She is not very graceful about it, though!
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  8. Puppy exercise class would be so cool!!
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  9. Finally, an exercise that the boys already know how to do! hahaha! ☺ Both of them enjoy the rollover. Pierre acts just like Jack after a bath.
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  10. Since she’s moved on board the boat, Honey loves to roll in the grass. Especially when we’ve just come into port.

    I’m pleased to know it’s actually good for her.
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  11. Ha! I remember when I had Blueberry in a trick training class a couple years ago I drew the “roll over” command when we were playing a game and I warned everyone she probably wouldn’t do it. Don’t you know she totally proved me wrong? She not only rolled over (following the treat of course) but she did it enthusiastically – 3 straight rolls!
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  12. Earl does roll over like a pro!
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  13. We finally mastered lie down but Kilo hates doing the rollover trick if I am standing above him on the floor. He seems to feel threatened. He gets grumpy and will try to grab the treat and run. However, he will roll around on his back on my lap for a tummy rub or on the bed. He rolls like Jack after a bath too LOL.
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  14. Well, Chester has that one down. He always rolls like that after a bath 🙂 Seriously though, this is a great excercise pretty much any dog can practice.
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  15. Hi Y’all!

    BOL! That was one of the first commands my Human taught me! My allergies cause a rash on my belly and she’d make me roll over everyday to check it and treat it. I can really impress the vets when I roll over for them to examine me.

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
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  16. Cool. Wouldn’t have thought that roll over can be a functional exercise.
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  17. Murphy’s favourite position is lying on his back so we’ll be trying this!
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  18. I haven’t been able to train any of this crew to roll over! But the girls will do it on their own. When I get home from work that’s part of their routine…to rub themselves on the ground. And Luke will do it when we’re playing fetch. When he has the ball and the girls want it he’ll flop on his back and go back and forth keeping it away from them! I’m going to try to train him again at some point…I’m not sure why he’s so resistant to doing it for me.
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