Conditioning: Cavalettis

Cavalettis are step-obstacles. You should use a row of at least four (preferably more) cavalettis that are at the right height for your dog. Cavalettis should be set about a stride apart, and come to your dogs’ hock. The idea is to walk over the obstacles, not jump.  Think of how horses prance in a show, or how football players run through steps, lifting their knees – that is the motion your are going for with your dog.

Set up the cavaletti row or circle, and coax your dog through.  Some dogs take to it naturally, and some don’t.  Be sure to reward your dog and keep it positive! At the end of the row, reward, turn around and go back. If you hear your dogs’ feet ‘ticking’ on the bars, the spacing may be off, or they may be too high. Space them differently for walk and trot so your dog picks up their feet as they pick up speed.

Make sure you stop while your dog still has energy, and is having fun. This gets your dogs’ muscles toned and solid, much like high repetition, low weight works on a human. If your dog is in good shape, they are less likely to be injured on-course, and if they are injured, are more likely to heal quickly.

4 Comments on “Conditioning: Cavalettis

  1. I had read. Twice the height of the elbow.
    another question:How long do you train your puppy to this?
    for example, a dog of 7 months
    How long and how many sessions?

    • I don’t think I would do much of this with a dog under a year old. Consult your vet to see if they think your dog is old enough to work on structured conditioning exercises, and work with them to find what is best for your dog.


  2. Hi! depending on the size of the dog. how you can set the distance of the stands for a different pace?(trot ,etc etc)

    • Hi Alex,

      That’s a tricky question – you would need to take note of their stride when they’re walking and trotting and set them up accordingly. There’s so much variation amongst dogs that it’s nearly impossible to give you a hard and fast rule other than have someone watch the dog walk, fast walk, and trot.

      Hope this helps!