Looking for a way to start some early conditioning training that compliments future agility moves? Cavaletti work is an excellent way to strengthen the hind end, increase flexibility, and improve body awareness and coordination! Best of all!! It’s a simple set up and will get your dog into great shape and familiar with grid work!
Let’s break down cavaletti training and how you can incorporate this conditioning work into your training.
Benefits of Cavalettis
How to Use Cavalettis
First, you’ll want an even number of poles to work with (6-12), and your pole height should be no higher than the height of your dog’s hock (~1.5 - 2.5 inches). The distance between the poles should start at the height of your dog’s withers and once your dog begins to understand the proper striding through the poles you can increase the distance by ~0.5 - 1 inch (depending on the size of your dog). Have your dog do 20-30 passes through 6 cavalettis or 10 – 15 passes through 12 cavalettis. Aim for 3 –4 sets. This will vary based on the current fitness level of your dog and experience with this exercise. When you are working with your dog, always monitor for signs of fatigue – panting, knocking/ticking poles, or showing signs of poor form/posture. With puppies, keep it to 10-15 passes; 1 set. At this stage, you are teaching them the exercise and do not want to complete too many repetitions and sets. I generally put 10-15 cookies in my hand and stop the exercise when I have run out.
How to make your own set of cavalettis
There are a number of ways to design your own set of cavalettis. All you need are some poles (e.g. PVC piping, broom's, jump bars) and something to raise them off the ground (e.g. cones, pop cans).
For the poles you can purchase PVC pipe or wooden dowel from your local hardware store. You'll want to cut the polls 3-4 feet in length. Many people choose to use small traffic cones to hold their poles up. These can usually be found at a dollar store.
If you can't find traffic cones with pre-fabricated holes you can add adhesive velcro to your cones and the end of you polls to make another easy to adjust set-up. You can also use spare soda cans you may have laying around and place the poles on top of the cans for a really quick and easy build!
With a little creativity you can build your own set of cavalettis easily and can get started working with your dog to strengthen their hind end, increase flexibility, and improve body awareness and coordination. It's one of my favourite conditioning exercises and is a great way to get your young dog thinking about their feet while packing in a lot conditioning work that will benefit them in the future.