Cavaletti – Week 2

After you read through the information below and watch the videos – head to the Discussion Forum where you can ask questions, see discussion, sign up for video review and much more.  If you do not see a discussion forum with the title Canine Cavaletti – please email me so I can fix your account so that you do have access – bobbie@pawsitive-performance.com.

Cavaletti Week 2

Here are some benefits of straight Cavaletti training.

  • Lengthens the dog back
  • Steadies the dogs rear and improves awareness of hind feet
  • Improves hip rotation and knee flexion
  • Improves proprioception
  • Improves strength and endurance
  • Improves rhythm
  • Prepares a dog for jumping
  • Improves stamina
  • Adds variety to training and strength work
  • Shortening the length between the poles helps a dog learn to collect
  • Lengthening the space between the poles helps the dog to lengthen their stride

Straight Cavaletti training is done to exhaustion and can be done 3-5 times a week. You are looking for 20-30 repetitions times THREE (60-90 reps) depending on the dog’s current level of activity, endurance and overall physical condition. This repetition should be increased (but not more than 20 continuous trotting minutes) or decreased based on your dog’s level of fitness.

It is recommended to start with six poles. I use 12 poles because I have them and it reduces the number of repetitions by HALF.

Warm Muscles

  • Warm muscles will extend better than cold muscles – make sure your dog's muscles and joints are properly warmed up – see thread in the forum about warm ups.

Surface:

  • Any indoor surface such as mats, carpet, turf etc is OK
  • Concrete is OK if your dogs growth plates are closed and you don’t do more than 20 min continuous trotting 3 times per week
  • Any outside surface such as dirt, grass, other barn surfaces is OK

How often should you do cavaletti for stride work be done??

  • Trot work is recommended at 3-5 times per week on varied surfaces at 20 minutes continuous trotting. Cavaletti work can be done as well as running or biking with your dog at a trotting gait.
  • Once you achieve an extended stride it is important to increase repetition at that spacing before you increase the space between the poles.
  • Trot work can also be done as interval training such as 3-5 strength exercise and 10-20 reps through 6 cavaletti, then repeat all 3x. This keeps your dog’s heart rate up just as if we did interval training with weights and a treadmill. This falls under the 3-5 times per week

General Tip:

If your dog becomes bored of trotting back and forth – it is OK to stop and tug or reward another behavior every 10 passes – this will keep your dog interested knowing there is more reward coming after 10 passes.  Make sure you are not confusing boredom for the exercise for fatigue.

Cones/Target/Mats

The cones/target/mats at either end of the cavaletti sets are used to focus the dog forward and to get “continuous movement”.   It is best to position these at least 3-4 strides beyond the poles so that the dog doesn't change their stride before exiting the poles.   That said – for video purposes, the cones/mats/targets are a bit closer to the poles so that the entire behavior can be viewed in the video screen.

Beginner Cavalettis for Stride Work
 

Beginner Cavalettis for Stride work

Body Position: standing to start, continuous movement with a flat back and head level moving at a trot.

Note:   that some dogs will drop their head and that is normal but understand that more weight is forward on the dog’s shoulders

Equipment/Setup:  6 poles, 2” off the ground, measure the height at your dog’s withers and use that measurement for the space between the poles

Note:   If you have a long backed dog – measure the length of the dogs back and use that measurement between the poles. The dog will generally not be able to trot over the poles like a dog that is more proportionately put together.

Benefits: lengthens through the spine, increases core strength and improves gait

Pre-requisite: none

Repetitions: 20-30 reps; this is 1 set, repeat 2 times

Training Tips

  • Do not use agility or sport release words – these generally mean explosive movement
  • Train an easy cue to help with slowing your dog down
  • Face your dog as they are going through the poles with your hand our (as if to stay stop) to encourage thoughtful movement
  • Train the mat to mat/cone to cone or target to target to encourage continuous movement
  • Sometimes it is helpful at first to put your dog on leash but allow them to move through the poles ahead of you – this will help to get thoughtful movement
  • Avoid walking next to your dog and the cavaletti – if you are in line of site of your dog, he will keep pace with you instead of finding his own stride.
  • Using a toy at either end of the poles can work well for some dogs but most dogs the toy is way too exciting and you will get explosive movement.

What to look for: Dog at a trotting gait

See this website for gaiting information:

http://vanat.cvm.umn.edu/gaits/

NOTE:   most dogs will jump the poles – not just agility dogs.   This is about speed and excitement – make sure you are calm and quiet during cavaletti work

Straight with varied rewards (targets)


Straight 10 passes (cones)

Straight using homemade PVC – also see the other options that Danielle posted in the forum

Long-backed Dog cavalettis

Increasing the space between the poles
 

Increasing the space between the poles

Body Position: standing to start, continuous movement with a flat back and head level moving at a trot.

Note:   that some dogs will drop their head and that is normal but understand that more weight is forward on the dog’s shoulders

Equipment/Setup:   6 poles, 2” off the ground, measure the height at your dog’s withers and use that measurement for the space between the poles

Note:   If you have a long backed dog – measure the length of the dogs back and use that measurement between the poles. The dog will generally not be able to trot over the poles like a dog that is more proportionately put together.

Benefits: lengthens through the spine, increases core strength and improves gait while lengthening through the dogs stride

Pre-requisite: none

Repetitions: 20-30 reps; this is 1 set, repeat 2 times

Tips – see above and…

  • Once you achieve an extended stride it is important to increase repetition at that spacing before you increase the space between the poles.
  • If your dog hits the poles after 10-20 reps through it is a sign of fatigue
  • If you move the poles and they continue to hit the poles at that spacing then you have moved the poles too far apart.
  • Always start with the space where you left off at the last session before extending the space.

What to look for: dog should still be at a trotting gait without double striding or hopping.

Showing what to do and what not to do – cavaletti spacing video

 

 

Intro to Curved Cavalettis

Intro to Curved Cavalettis

Body Position: standing to start, continuous movement with a flat back and head level moving at a trot. Note:   that some dogs will drop their head and that is normal but understand that more weight is forward on the dog’s shoulders

Equipment/Setup:   6 poles, 2” off the ground, measure the height at your dog’s withers and use that measurement for the space between the poles – start curved cavalettis at your dog's height at the withers not at the extended stride spacing that you were at for straight cavalettis.

Note:   If you have a long backed dog – measure the length of the dogs back and use that measurement between the poles. The dog will generally not be able to trot over the poles like a dog that is more proportionately put together.

Benefits: increases core strength and improves gait while lengthening through the dogs stride while turning – flexes muscles in the inside of the curve and lengthens muscles on the outside of the curve.

Pre-requisite: none

Repetitions: 20-30 reps; this is 1 set, repeat 2 times

Training Tips

  • Position your mat/target/cone toward the outside corner of your cavaletti set up so that your dog sees it as they round the corner
  • Follow the same tips as for straight cavaletti
  • Start with the measurement at your dog's withers between the poles.  After you send your dog through the poles set at a curve the first few times, note where the dog is striding – is it close to the cones or in the middle.   Adjust where you are taking your measurements to match where the dog likes to stride.
  • Just as with straight cavalettis you an increase the space between the poles slowly

Intro to Curved Cavaletti

Serpentine

Cavaletti training for body awareness can be done 3-5 times per week as part of a regular strength training program.  Body awareness training will help to improve gait, confidence and any strength training you decide to do with your dog.  

Serpentine

Body Position: standing, walking and trotting while stepping over the poles and weaving in and out of the cones

Equipment/Setup: See video – this is not an exact science but loosely set up the cones about 2 body lengths apart and poles about hock height – remember this is a body awareness exercise and again, the height and spacing is not an exact science.

Benefits: increases limb awareness, bends through the torso and encourage limb abduction and adduction (moving toward and away from the midline of the body)

Pre-requisite: none

Repetitions: complete 10 passes through the poles, this is 1 set, repeat 3 times

Training Tips

  • Walk beside your dog and indicate the weaving motion
  • Reward after the 6th cone

Serpentine over poles and around cones, plus over poles down the middle