How to Teach a Staffy to Lay Down and Roll Over

A simple step-by-step training guide for this paw-some party trick!

Training your Staffordshire Bull Terrier isn’t just about obedience. You can also train your Staffy to perform a wide range of tricks, and one of the best of them is teaching your dog to lay down and roll over.

Not only is rolling over a great party trick to show off with, trick training is also a great way to give your dog’s brain a workout. Even better, it’s a great excuse for you and your Staffy to spend some quality time together.

How to teach a staffy to lay down and roll over

However, in order to teach your Staffy this fun trick, you’ll need to break it down into two separate parts: training your dog to lie down and then moving on to training your dog to roll over.

Training Your Dog to Lie Down

Along with sit and stay, training your dog to lie down is one of the most important obedience commands. It’s an extremely useful weapon to have in your arsenal when you want your Staffy to settle — for example, when you’ve got a visitor coming over and you want your dog to greet them calmly.

It’s best to train your dog to sit before you start teaching this trick. Then, with a pocket full of training treats at the ready, follow these simple steps:

  1. Hold a treat in your hand and ask your dog to sit.

  2. Move your hand closer to your dog’s nose so that they can sniff the treat.

  3. Lower the treat towards the ground to lure your Staffy’s nose down between his paws. If your dog tries to stand, return to Step 1 and try again.

  4. Move the treat away from your dog and towards you to stretch them out into a lying position.

  5. As soon as your Staffy is lying down, praise him/her and reward them with the treat.

  6. Repeat the first five steps several times and across different training sessions until your dog gets the hang of it.

  7. Now, without any treat in your hand, move your hand down to the ground and say “down”. Practice this skill repeatedly, occasionally rewarding with a treat, until your dog understands what your hand signal means.

  8. You can also graduate to getting your dog to lie down based on nothing more than a “down” voice cue.
Once you’ve taught your dog to lie down on command, you can then move on to the rolling over part of the trick.

Training Your Dog to Roll Over

Now it’s time to move on to the cutest part of the trick. Training your Staffy to roll over is a little more complicated than teaching them to lie down, but it’s well worth the extra effort.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Give your dog the “down” command and wait for it to lie down.

  2. Kneel down in front of your dog and hold a treat near his nose.

  3. Move your hand towards his shoulder and watch as your dog turns his head to follow the treat.

  4. When he does, you can continue to move your hand around his shoulder so he’ll have to lie down on his side to keep following the treat.

  5. Keeping the treat close to your Staffy’s nose, keep moving it around in the same direction so your dog has to keep rolling to follow the treat.

  6. Continue this until your dog has completed a full roll and is back in his starting position.

  7. Reward immediately with a treat and lots of praise.

  8. Repeat the above steps until your dog is consistently performing a full roll every time.

  9. Introduce a “roll over” verbal cue each time you perform the trick.

  10. You can then start to phase out the treat and pare back your hand motion.
With repetition, and with regular treats and praise for performing the trick successfully, your dog should soon be able to roll over on cue.

This part of the trick will likely require a little patience on your part. Some dogs will get the hang of it straight away, but many others will need a few training sessions first.

Repetition is key, so stay patient and keep your training sessions short and fun. If you can do this, your dog should be rolling over with the best of them in no time.

If this doesn’t work

If your Staffy is still struggling to master rolling over, you might need to adopt a different approach.

Rather than rolling all the way over, some dogs will try to stand up or just wiggle around to follow the treat in your hand. If this is the case, you may need to break the trick down into its separate parts.

For example, reward your dog with a treat when they:

  • Follow your hand with their nose.
  • Roll onto their side.
  • Roll onto their back.
  • Roll all the way over.

This sort of step-by-step approach will take a little longer and will see you work through your bag of treats quickly. However, it should help your Staffy master the trick from start to finish.

Extra Staffy Training Tips

Because they’re intelligent and eager to please, Staffordshire Bull Terriers can respond quite well to training. However, they are known to be a little stubborn at times so it might take some time before your Staffy understands exactly what you want them to do and why.

To help make it easier to train your Staffy to lie down and roll over, remember these handy tips:

Start at home
The ideal place to start trick training with your Staffy is in a quiet environment free of distractions. This will ensure that you have your dog’s full attention.

Move to environments with more distractions
Once your dog can lie down and roll over in a distraction-free environment, you can then start practicing this trick elsewhere. For example, you can teach your dog to perform the trick at your local dog park or when you have a friend over.

Keep training sessions short
Long and repetitive training sessions can quickly grow boring for your Staffy. To ensure that you hold his attention, limit each training session to 5-10 minutes. Always make sure to end the session on a positive note so that they'll be keen to pick up where they left off at a later time.

Stay patient
It can be quite frustrating if your dog takes a while to grasp the art of rolling over on command, but stay calm. Letting your anger or frustration show will only confuse your dog and may make them anxious. Take a deep breath, remain positive and let your Staffy work it out at his own pace.

Make it fun
Last but not least, don’t get too caught up in the stress of trying to get your dog to nail the trick perfectly. Remember, trick training is meant to be fun — if you’re enjoying yourself, your Staffy will have a great time too.

Next time you have a training session with your Staffy, why not teach him or her to lay down and roll over? If you stick with it, before too long you’ll have a great party trick you and your dog can show off to all your friends.

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