Using Cavalettis to Condition Your Agility Dog

Cavaletti jumpsCavalettis are great conditioning obstacles when used correctly. To get the most of your cavaletti work, you should use a row of at least four (preferably more) set to your dog’s hock height. Go lower if your dog has a problem with that height. They need to be set at one stride, for all gaits, and can be used to shorten or lengthen strides if adjusted in small increments. The purpose is to have the dog take the cavaletti in normal striding, not jumping while lifting their legs more animated much like a football player running through tires.

You can set your cavaletti up in a row or a circle, and coax your dog through. While some dogs will take to them naturally, others need time to figure them out. If your dog is having difficulty with them, lower them and give your dog lots of rewards completing them. Reward your dog like any new obstacle and be positive! If you hear your dogs’ feet ‘ticking’ on the bars, the spacing may be off or they may be too high. Change the spacing to reflect the stride difference between the walk and trot. If you do not, your dog most likely will not be able to master them and may give up.

Be sure to end a session while your dog still has energy and having fun. If you go until your dog is tired they could become injured and soured on the exercise. A good conditioning regimen will get your dog’s muscles toned and in good shape. The better condition your dog is in, the less likely they will be to get injured on course. It can also speed up healing if they do get an injury.