The best part about the “Show Belly” command is… a fuzzy puppy belly! Who doesn’t like puppy bellies? A handy command that will get your puppy or dog to flop down and willingly turn his belly up for your petting, perusal, patching, or scratching, is a wonderful command indeed.
“Show Belly” can be used to effectively groom your pup, inspect for problems, to position your dog for nail clipping, and to provide you access to the best spot for a doggy belly rub!
Here's how to train your dog to show his belly.
Command 12 - “Show Belly”
Step 1a: Begin with your pup on a leash (you do not have to hold it). He should be attentive and ready to learn. As always, when learning a new behavior, you are in a quiet environment with treats at the ready.
Step 1b: With your pup watching you, give him the “Down” command. Smile at your dog and praise, “Good Down!” (You are halfway there!)
Step 2a: With a treat in your hand, remind your pup to stay down and then say, “Shaggy, Show Belly.” Allow your pup to sniff at the treat and follow it with his nose while you draw your hand diagonally toward and over his hip slowly. As his nose follows your hand with the treat, he will drop onto his side. Repeat “Show Belly” and encourage him with, “That’s It! Show Belly!” as he relaxes onto his side. Then bring the hand with the treat to his nose again and lure him onto his back, keeping your commands and the movements calm and smooth, repeating, “Show Belly.”
Step 2b: Once he is on his back, keep repeating, “Yes! Good Show Belly!” while you gently and calmly pet and stroke his fuzzy belly. Smiling, verbal praise, and pets are enough to show him how pleased you are. Do not feed him a treat while he is lying on his back to avoid a choking hazard. You can treat him once he is upright again.
Step 3a: While your pup is on his back and belly up, now is the time to quietly start exploring his body – run your hands along his belly and sides. Feel his legs, starting from the underarms and going all the way to his toes. Pat his thighs. Rub under his chin. Check out the parts not seen at a glance. Don’t forget the tail too! Keep your movements calm and soothing.
Step 3b: You will want to work up to a full body exam. At first just do a short soothing rub before letting your pup get up. You want to give him the command to rise or release – he should not get up without you telling him to. If he does start to get up, just say “No,” and repeat “Down” and “Show Belly,” using the treat in your hand to guide him where you want him to be and rewarding him with smiles and pets when he’s there. As he learns the “Show Belly” command and relaxes into it, then you can start doing longer exams, groom him all under, or clip his toenails while he is relaxed and toes up.
The “Show Belly” command should be an enjoyable command for both you and your dog. Besides being awfully cute, it is also a very important command that will enable you to properly groom, inspect, and care for him in case of an injury or wound without a struggle. Enjoy those fuzzy bellies!
Last Week’s Lesson
Teaching Your Dog "Down
Next Week's Lesson
Teach Your Dog to "Kiss" and "Snuggle"
Back to 20 Dog Commands You Need to Know
All training tips in this series are from ECAD (Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities), a non-profit organization dedicated to training service dogs for veterans with disabilities. Learn more about ECAD.