How to train cavaletti with your dog

Cavaletti is a great exercise to improve your dog’s strength and coordination. You can adapt it for all types of dogs in terms of size, age and level of fitness. Cavaletti training is an important part of the fitness training we do with all our dogs, both the ones who are competing and the ones who are retired.

How to

  1. Start with 2 cones about 3-5 meters apart and reward your dog for going around and between them. When your dog understands the task, increase the pace to a trot.
  2. Add 2 jumps (see height and distance below) between the cones and let your dog trot between the cones and over the jumps.
  3. Add more jumps (always keep it an even number) as your dog gains confidence and understanding. Start with 30 seconds and work your way up to 3-5 min, depending on the fitness level of your dog.

Reward your dog as often as needed to keep their motivation and speed up. I would recommend using food/treats as rewards to keep the stress level low, but if you have a dog with low food-drive, you can also use a toy. In the video below, I have included an example of how I reward one of my dogs with a toy when I am training cavaletti.

If you have a hard time motivating your dog, or a dog who has issues focusing forward, you can try to put a person at each end of the cavaletti (especially when learning in the beginning) to reward the dog and help them focus forward.

Distances and heights

Dog sizeDistance*Height
Small½ – 1 footNEVER higher than your dog’s ankle height
Medium1 – 1 ½ foot
Large2 – 3 foot
* This is only guidelines

Your dog should be trotting relaxed and naturally. I highly recommend filming the training (from the side as in the example below) in slow motion, so you can check if the distance is ok for your dog.

dog wrist cavaletti height
Wrist marked on the picture

Cavaletti variations

  • The number of jumps
  • Curved cavalettis
  • Length of session