Roll Over Rainthoven



While weather cancellations continue to haunt our agility class (we were originally supposed to return to class this week), I’ve started teaching Rain how to roll over!

It has been fairly challenging to keep Rain (and myself) active and engaged over the last several weeks. The weather has made even getting to work challenging, and who wants to go outside when it’s 17 degrees and extra windy? Even when the weather hasn’t been a challenge, I’ve had some extra time off and I’ve been a bit lazier than usual.

And what happens with an Aussie without enough mental and physical stimulation? They get a bit crazy and start meeting their needs in other ways. And so it was with Rain, who spent many hours barking at squirrels in the apple tree. In winter, an apple tree full of old apples is a grand buffet for squirrels, hummingbirds, and more.

After one particularly awful day, I started using our Reactive Rover exercises to curb the squirrel alerts. And it was working—although rewiring her brain around squirrels will be a very long-term task.

Then I was looking for something new to work on her with, and I thought that rolling over would present a decent challenge. You see, Rain only lays on her side or back in moments of extreme relaxation or to get a scritch. She will NOT do it otherwise, and my attempts to access her stomach for brushing have been laughable at best. She has an iron will.

How do you teach a dog to roll over? YouTube got me started:

What this video helped me with was to think about breaking a roll-over into chunks. First step for a dog with an iron will who won’t even lie on her side? Lure her into lying on her side! That was our first session.

A few days went by, and I started her second session. Within a few minutes, I had her rolling over on her left side! I made a video to commemorate this momentous occasion (and also in case I needed it for others to believe me):

Rain rolling over! Even lured, this is a big step!

A post shared by heather andrews (@bookishheather) on

Shortly after making that video we visited my parents to (hopefully) show them her new trick. She performed masterfully! Even my parents cheered for Rain, as they knew what a big deal this was.

Skye, in her younger days, was a master at rolling over. Once she learned it, if she thought you might give her a treat, she’d throw herself to the ground and roll over again and again.

During our third session, Rain started rolling over on the other side, so now she can roll over on both sides! Of course now I need to phase out the lure and add in a hand signal.

Of course I’m proud of all the work Rain and I have done together, but this one is particularly sweet because we did it all by ourselves.

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