The Water Bowl
Breed & Health Resources

How to Teach Your Dog to Lie Flat for an Exam

By Roxanne Hawn

Teach Dog to Lie Flat for Exam

When I first tried to teach my Border Collie, as a puppy, how to rollover, she seemed confused about what to do after lying down. I finally figured out that she needed an interim step – to lie flat on her side – before flipping herself over.

Only later did I realize this particular body position could be quite useful for a variety of veterinary examinations and treatments:

  • Taking a urine sample
  • Testing neurological reflexes
  • Doing a cardiac or abdominal ultrasound
  • Putting in an IV catheter
  • Casting or bandaging an injured leg

You also could turn lie flat into a “Play Dead” trick based simply on what verbal cue you use.

It all begins with teaching your dog a good, solid down-stay.

From there, you want to lure your dog to turn his head and shoulders back and down. I used food, but a toy would work as well. You probably don’t want to use his favorite toy though, because you don’t want him getting excited and popping up.

Gently help your dog flop to his side as he turns to look at the lure. Praise him and reward him in a way that works best for your dog. For calmer body postures, I often avoided using a clicker because my dog loves learning and would get amped up if she saw or heard the clicker.

Never force your dog onto his side or hold him down. This isn’t about brute control. It’s about getting your dog to lie flat willingly and in a relaxed way.

Dogs pick up so well on visual cues (often better than verbal ones), so I got in the habit of tilting my head and gesturing with a flat palm in the direction I wanted my dog to flop.

Because I’m right-handed, I taught my dog to rollover to my right (her left). I never taught her the other direction. I recommend, however, that you teach this body position both directions because your veterinarian will likely need access to both sides at some point in your dog’s life.

One of my dog training and dog blogging friends taught her Lab to lie flat as well. The photos are too funny. He’ll do this trick pretty much anywhere.

What dog tricks have you found useful for veterinary exams?

Did you teach your dog to do something that makes veterinary exams easier for everyone? Tell us all about it. 

Mind if we pay your vet bills?

Connect with Us

Pet health insurance is administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency, LLC and underwritten by one of the licensed insurers of American Modern Insurance Group, Inc., including American Modern Home Insurance Company d/b/a in CA as American Modern Insurance Company (Lic. No 2222-8), and American Southern Home Insurance Company. Coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, underwriting review, and approval, and may not be available for all risks or in all states. Rates and discounts vary, are determined by many factors, and are subject to change. Wellness Rewards is offered as a supplementary, non-insurance benefit administered by Embrace Pet Insurance Agency in the United States. © 2020 American Modern Insurance Group, Inc.  Wellness Rewards not available in Rhode Island.