Cavaletti training for dogs – it exists? I still get a lot of wide-eyed looks when I tell dog people about cavaletti training and how ingenious it is to use with dogs. To be honest, it is one of my favorite types of training in dog fitness, along with isometric training.
But what exactly is Cavaletti Training now?
Cavaletti are small hurdles that the dog can climb in a variety of ways. Cavaletti have long been used in the equine field to gymnastize horses.
What is the benefit of Cavaletti Training?
Cavaletti training is a true “all-round talent”. You train the muscles of all four legs of the dog, so it is a great strength training. In addition, joint mobility is improved. But it also trains coordination and fine motor skills, body awareness and healthy movement patterns.
Quite a lot, isn’t it?
For which dogs is this type of training suitable?
In principle, you can do it with any dog. Whether you have a very young dog of 4 to 5 months, or you have a senior dog. You can also use it for various joint diseases and for prevention.
When is it not suitable?
If your dog suffers from joint stiffness, then Cavaletti training is not suitable because the limbs have to be bent to overcome the hurdles. Even if a joint may not be bent (for the time being), e.g. after an acute injury or after an operation, hurdling is taboo for your dog.
Here, however, you can work excellently with isometric training, for example.
What do you need for Cavaletti training?
If you want to start directly with real equipment, then you need 4-6 cavaletti poles and correspondingly 8-12 pylons where you can put the poles. It’s best to choose pylons that have holes at different heights so you can vary with the height of the poles.
Does cavaletti training work with homemade equipment or items from the household? Sure, you have several options here. You can let your dog climb over your legs, for one thing. To do this, sit on the ground, spread your legs and walk your dog over.
You can also use objects from the household, such as broomsticks, which you may place on books or the like. If your dog is already experienced with cavaletti, you can also put a ladder on the ground and use it, for example. I also find the possibility of taking branches great. By the way, you can also lay down branches on the walk and lead your dog over them.
How high and how much distance?
I recommend that you place the hurdles at a maximum of wrist height. For young dogs, senior dogs or with joint problems also lower (in case of doubt first put on the floor). As a distance I recommend you about a dog’s length distance. In the course of the training you can then reduce the distances or make them different and also vary with the height. Your dog should not be encouraged to jump.
How do you explain to the dog what to do?
There are different ways to do this. In any case, it is always important that you work positively with your dog. You can lead your dog on a harness and leash over the obstacles. For this, it is important that your dog walks calmly next to you and does not pull on the leash.
In addition, you can also introduce your dog to the cavaletti by placing/rolling a treat behind the first hurdle. When he has climbed it, another one behind the next hurdle and so on. When your dog understands what to do, you can then put the treats only behind every second hurdle and then only at the end of the run.
First, your dog must learn not to look up at you, but to focus calmly and intently on the poles. In the beginning, for restless dogs, it is recommended to lead them strictly on the chest harness with the leash, so that they work the poles calmly.
You can also work with a guide hand. Make sure your dog doesn’t look up, if possible, but focuses on moving. Therefore, the guide hand must not be held too high. You can then gradually reduce them more and more.
Your dog should complete the hurdles slowly and deliberately so that the movement patterns can be stored by the brain. Speak step pace is correct. Please keep in mind that step walking is exhausting and demanding for your dog, because each step has to be set consciously. If your dog is very experienced, you can do exercises at a trot.
Isn’t Cavaletti training boring?
Cavaletti training is much more than just running straight back and forth over hurdles. For one thing, you can vary with distances and heights. On the other hand, you can build the hurdles in a variety of shapes, such as in a row, in a circle, as a Mikado, and many more. This way you bring variety and a great demand into the training. You can, of course, incorporate other tools such as stimulating surfaces, elevations, balance pads, etc.
In my CavalettiFIT online course you will learn a variety of Cavaletti variations and how to build a challenging and effective full body workout with this great training method!
Have you ever tried Cavaletti training with your dog? Feel free to share your experiences with me in the comments!
All the love, your Tina