We often receive requests for information about “How to use Cavalettis”. This post will help answer some of your questions. (Please check with your vet before doing any physical activity with your dog.)
Your dog has 4 paws to keep track of and cavalettis will help him learn how to control his body and all four legs. When you start your dog on an exercise or sports program like obedience or agility, you may notice that your dog can have a hard time knowing where his feet are. For example, in training agility jumps, you may find that your dog’s hind feet are knocking down the bar. You can start “cavaletti” exercises to help your dog with understand where his feet are.
A “cavaletti“ is simply a servies of bars laying across the ground or slightly elevated off the ground. Using six to twelve cavalettis in a ladder formation is a fundamental exercise for o teach foot awareness any dog sport.
Start by laying poles (pvc or dowel rods) on the ground or slightly raised (2-4″). To elevate the poles, they can be placedon crushed soda cans or cones. The distance between each bar should equal to the height of your dog at the withers or shoulders. For example, if your dog measures 20 inches to the top of his shoulder, place the cavalettis 20 inches apart. Over time gradually increase the distance to a maximum of 1 1/2 times your dog’s height at the withers. NOTE: only increase distance between poles 1-2″ at a time and only after your dog is comfortable and confident at the current set-up. The height of the cavaletti should never be higher than your dog’s hock.
|Cintz Marker Cones (Set of 10), 9-Inch|
To teach your dog this exercise, place a target beyond the last Cavaletti pole. The target should be just that: a target that you place a piece of food on when the dog arrives at it. Do not put the food/toy on the target before he starts because he will race through the cavaletti polen to the target. Using a target does help teach the dog to look straight ahead and not at the handler). If you use a target, place a target at each end of the cavaletti poles, so you can just turn your dog aroundaround and go back across the Cavaletti poles. Be sure to work in both directions, rather than going around to the other end. Placing the target several steps beyond the final pole encourages your dog to continue striding forward without the Cavalettis present. An alternative method to using a target is to train your dog to move to and get onto a mat. Place a mat on each endof the cavaletti poles. Have your dog move to each mat receiving a reward when on the mat. Reward only if your dog trots through the cavaletti poles and does not run to mat jumping over several poles at a time.
Using these drills is a great way to help your dog learn awareness of his rear legs, increase his confidence, and improve balance and coordination. The exercise should be part of any preparation for any dog sport. So get out there and have fun training your dog!