Get your dog to lay down in front of you. Once he is down, encourage him to go to a hip (whichever side your dog favors). Now take a treat, show it to your dog. Keep the treat close to your dog’s nose and move the treat slowly over the dog’s shoulder towards his backbone. Your dog should turn his head to follow the treat. At first you may have to place your other hand on your dog’s back to prevent him from standing up.
The further back you move the treat, the more your dog should twist his neck to follow the treat. If the neck twists far enough, the body will follow. Once his legs are in the air, continue using the treat to lure him all the way over. Remember to label the command with one word such as ‘over’ or ‘rollover’. Be consistent with the command you give every time you work with your dog on roll over. Until your dog knows what is expected by the command, only say it as the dog is doing the trick. Always give him the treat when he is all the way over.
With practice, your dog will no longer need you to lure him all the way over. You will be able to say your command and make a rolling signal with your index finger to cue your dog to roll over.
I’m proud to have shared my life with Sonny the Shih-Tzu for nine years. He was an incredible dog, who acted more like a person than a dog. He got bored of standard dog tricks and was very in tune to my feelings and thoughts. It was at the request of the pet resort’s training director that I learned about teaching Sonny to read. This was the only trick that he really loved performing. Over several years, I was able to teach him words, numbers, shapes, colors, and even physics equations.
Sonny and I showed off his reading ability at many training events and classes. Our biggest claim to fame, though was being on Good Morning Texas. Not only did Sonny perform his reading trick perfectly in the busy TV studio, but he also picked the 2011 Super Bowl Winner!!
Since Sonny passed away, I have developed the Sonny the Wonder Dog picture book series. The series explains why Sonny was so smart – he just had to be an alien from another planet. The first book in the series, Sonny from Outer Space introduces the readers to how Sonny came into Pamela’s life.
Check out all of Sonny’s amazing reading videos at:
If your dog isn’t a big fan of fetching a ball, or you don’t have the space to throw the ball inside your home, try one of these games to entertain your dog indoors.
Hide and Seek
A fun game to play with your dog is hide and seek. Get your dog’s favorite treats and drop one on the floor and tell your dog ‘find it’ or a cue word as your dog licks it up. Then place a treat behind a chair leg or around a corner. Tell your dog to ‘find it’ again. Next put your dog in a sit or down stay. Let your dog watch you place the treat around the corner. Release your dog and tell him to ‘find it’. Soon you will be able to hide multiple treats around the room and have your dog find them. You can make the hiding places harder and harder as your dog gets better at the game.
Treasure hunt is a game my dog loves. Get an old towel or beach blanket. Place the towel on the floor, get your dog’s favorite toy and put it on the towel. Then fold the towel over it. Encourage your dog to dig at the towel to find the toy. You can start folding the towel more and more as your dog gets better at finding the toy.
Teaching your dog to retrieve a toy is an easy game to play inside. Start by getting two toys that are similar i.e. two tennis balls, two squeaky balls etc. Toss on ball across the room or down the hall. When your dog has picked up the ball, praise him and call him to come. As he turns to you show him the second ball. This will encourage him to drop the first ball when he gets to you. Say your release word each time the dog spits out the ball and goes for the second ball. When he released the first ball throw the second ball. Continue playing fetch with the two toys until your dog has learned to bring back the ball and drop it for you.