Mastering Lateral Movement in Front: Beginning Steps

Teaching your dog advanced commands can be a rewarding experience, and one valuable skill for rally is lateral movement in front of you. This blog post will explore a training approach involving mats or props to guide your dog through this challenging but achievable behavior.

Setting the Stage: Start with One Mat

To begin, start with one mat or prop. I start by rewarding the dog multiple times for staying on the mat. Once my dog has some value, I start to lure off the mat and mark/reward when the dog goes back on. Initially, I just lure the dog's front end off, then quickly progress to luring the dog off the mat.

Next Steps: Introduce Two Mats 

Begin by placing two mats on the floor, one to your left and one to your right. The goal is to train your dog to move between these two points laterally. The provided video demonstrates this process with Excel.

Click and Reward: Shaping the Behavior

As shown in the video, clicking and rewarding incremental progress is vital. If your dog moves at all toward the other mat, click and treat. Initially, you might notice the front end moving first; click again when the rear end follows suit.

If your dog encounters difficulty moving in one direction, consider breaking down the training further. In the video, when Excel struggled to move to the right, I used a reset treat and reevaluated the approach.

Addressing Challenges: Reading Your Dog's Signals

Pay close attention to your dog's body language. If they get stuck or frustrated, as Excel did, assessing the situation is crucial. You may have to return to one mat or try luring off the mat just slightly and see if your dog can offer movement back to the mat. Breaking this down step-by-step can make the process more manageable for your dog.

The Importance of Adaptability: Listening to Your Dog

Excel's reaction of disengaging and sniffing when frustrated is a crucial lesson. It's a signal that the training approach may need adjustment. Always be ready to adapt your methods based on your dog's reactions, ensuring a positive and enjoyable learning experience.


Teaching lateral movement is challenging for dogs, so patience is key. Be sure you're rewarding for any movement in the right direction. Build on success, and your dog will offer lateral movement in front in no time!

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