Core Strength Training for Dogs: Roll Over
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.