Training a Dog To Stay In The Down Position Without Rolling Over On His Back

So, you’ve taught your dog the down-stay command. But when you bend over to praise her, she rolls on her back.

Here’s what you’ll need to do: Take a step backwards. Literally.

Did your dog roll right-side up? Just give verbal praise.
Did he stay on his back? Then walk to the end of the leash.

Did he roll right-side up, and then stand up? Step in and reissue the down command, with a downward tug and release of the leash.
Block him from creeping forward with his body. Your goal is to teach him to go down and stay down on the same spot where you initially gave the command.

What if he stayed on his back? Then (while still standing at the end of the 6′ leash) pull (with a constant pull) toward you… even if you have to drag him forward a little. It’s okay to repeat the down-command. Release the tension as he starts to roll, right-side up.

Now practice walking into the dog and leaning over to give physical praise: Start by just touching his head. If he starts to roll submissive when you bend over to touch him, then stand up straight again. Your goal is to communicate that rolling over makes the praise “go away”.

DPTrainer4 on our forum adds: “Down can be a difficult command for many dogs simply because it IS a submissive position.

My current dog is one that likes to “cockroach” (a very technical term, you see), rolling onto her side and back at any given opportunity. Teaching the down was somewhat difficult.

The way I corrected this was to teach the down while the dog was in a heel position. I would have her lay down, then the MOMENT she cockroached, I was off into a “Heel,” and if she was not right behind me (which is entirely possible), she self-corrected. She learned to stay in the sphinx position rather quickly.

DPTrainer5 offers the following: It is quite possible that you or perhaps a family member or friend is unknowingly reinforcing the rolling over in times other than training sesssions. For example, your friend comes over to your house, greets your dog and the dog automatically “cockroaches” and the person might say something like, “Awww. He’s so cute. He wants his belly rubbed.” Then they rub the dogs belly thus reinforcing the rolling over. I suggest not petting the dog at all while he’s on his back. That may help during training because the dog will not have been rewarded for the behavior at other times.