By Lisa Schmit, PhD, CCFT, CPMP, member of Bobbie Lyons K9FitTeam

In The Zone Agility (ITZ) -

Lateral Distance will help get your dog to drive forward because they can see you better!Dogs have good peripheral vision, but they cannot see directly behind their heads. When you are directly behind your dog, it is difficult for the dog to see you. The dog cannot see you so dog will turn to look at you. He will turn his head more, turn towards you, spin or come towards you. However, the farther you can get laterally away from your dog, the easier it is for your dog to see you.

For example, in the illustration above (and in the video below) I want you to go stand at the bottom of a contact or exit of tunnel or even a line of hoops. Put some kind of markers out (I use my dogs in the video, you can use cones, buckets, numbers etc) that correspond with the illustration above..

You can turn your head to look sideways, but I do not want you to turn your shoulders or any other part of your body (if you turn your shoulders , it is equivalent to the dog turning and looking at you… which is a precursor to spinning).

While standing at the bottom on the contact:
Can you see #1? Probably not
Can you see #2? You can probably see a bit of #2
Can you see # 3? YES so much better!!!!!!!

Here is the video:

The moral of the story is that when you are behind your dog, he can see you better when you are farther away laterally than when you are directly behind him. It is really important to get lateral distance right away so that your dog can see you better and drive out away from you. The same principle applies to jump lines, hoop lines, tunnels etc. When you are behind your dog, he can see you better if you are farther laterally away then close to them. I start teaching my dogs lateral distance right away by teaching them to drive to an elevated foot target. This way, my dog gets use to me being laterally away from my dog. I then move the target to 1 hoop and work it from there! I progress to multiple obstacles and moving all over the place. I go over in detail my target training in my Groundwork For Distance and Cues Class. I also will be going over how I train lateral distance in my Driving Forward Class as well in the monthly skills class.

Here is a video of my 12 year old deaf dog and my 18 month old dog driving forward off contact, layering a tunnel and driving around a loop.


for the following classes through March 15th, 2019
Driving Forward at a Distance & Distance Off Contacts taught by Lisa Schmit
In this class, we will go over the steps to teach your dog to continue to go forward and to drive forward off of contacts. This is great class that starts at foundation exercises and moves to more difficult sequences over the class.

In the Zone Monthly Agility Skill Training taught by Lisa Schmit:Each month, will post a setup and videos with various sequences to practice. A foundation sequence and an advanced sequence. With each setup, will cover when to cue and what cues to direct your dog through the sequence.

You are invited to join the In The Zone Agility Facebook Group Distance Challenge!! I am offering 2 free video reviews for winners of the forward send and lateral distance challenge.

Join the ITZ facebook group for more info:

March and Aprils trials are OPEN. Premiums can be found here: