Mastering Side Steps in Rally: A Step-by-Step Guide to Precision Lateral Movement

Mastering side steps in rally can be a source of immense joy for both the participant and the audience. While teaching a proficient side step may pose some challenges, the effort invested is worthwhile.

In the world of Novice AKC rally, the side step leans more towards a diagonal movement while advancing forward. To illustrate this, take a look at Strive's demonstration in this video:

As you progress to higher levels, the emphasis shifts towards genuine lateral movement. Beginning with the Intermediate stage, judges expect your dog to execute side steps that show true lateral movement.

Here's a prime example of what an exemplary sidestep should resemble. You'll also see what the sidestep should not look like.

Foundations for Taking Side Steps

A valuable foundation skill for executing side steps is mastering a solid left pivot. A well-executed left pivot will bring your dog's rear in. Once you've honed this skill, you can integrate it into your sidestep training. Initially, you'll do a small left pivot, a slight right side step, and another small left pivot.

Here's another demonstration with slightly more movement to illustrate the progression:

In this video, you can see me using pivots at the end of the side step as needed:

Should you notice your dog's rear end lagging at any point during training, simply introduce a left pivot to realign.

Mastering Side Steps 

This video showcases what a genuine sidestep should look like:

Teaching side steps is a challenging but enjoyable endeavor. All it takes is an investment of your time and some quality training. Showing off your sensational sidestep skills at a show will make that time well spent!

E329: Amy Cook, PhD - "Thresholds and Decision Mak...
 

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