Cavaletti — Great Canine Fitness Activity

Cavaletti is a great exercise to add to your pet’s fitness routine, but what is it?

Simply put, cavaletti is low-set poles. By encouraging your pet to slowly walk over each pole* you:

Work your pet's hip flexors
Maintain and/or improve your pet's stride length
Help develop your pet's hindend awareness
Enhance you pet's sense of timing

*Your pet should slowly walk, not jump, over each pole. This will be especially hard for pets who have participated in agility.

Don’t have cavaletti? No problem. Check out my DIY Cavaletti Guide and Cavaletti instructions below.

A Few Cavaletti Guidelines


The poles can be set at varying heights from or directly on the floor but should never be any higher than your pet’s hock (see photo on next page). Doing so often causes compensation elsewhere, like the back, which can lead to chronic/acute pain and/or injury.

Distance Apart

Begin by spacing each pole approximately one and a half body apart. Adjust as needed after observing if your pet can fully extend through each limb as they walk over every pole.

Pet 2 feet long = Poles 3 feet apart

# Of Poles

This might be limited by the number of poles and/or books you have around your home. If possible, set up 4-6 poles, but you can do this with as little as one pole, making sure to have your pet approach the pole and then continue walking after stepping over it in a straight line.

You’ll Need

Broom, Mop, Swiffer, and/or Any Other Rod To Act As A Pole (Nothing Toxic To Your Pet!)

At Least 4 Heavy Books For Each Pole

Carpet, Yoga Mat, or Other Non-Skid Surface

You pet’s favorite treats or kibble prepared into pea-sized pieces

How To Cavaletti

Go to a carpeted room or lay down a yoga mat or other non-skid surface and set up cavaletti as pictured.

With a close, baited fist, lure your pet over the poles, holding your first at their nose height (long, level spine and neck from the base of the tail to the tip of the nose). Tell them your conditioned reinforcer (“Good”) and give them a treat after each or every few poles.

Return back and forth for a total of 10-20 poles. Repeat for 2-3 sets, making sure to watch for fatigue, and asking your pet to hold a stand (four feet on floor).

Troubleshooting Cavaletti

  • Your pet’s nails or feet are hitting the poles: The poles may be placed too high or your pet might be (getting) fatigued.
  • The poles are getting knocked over: The poles are definitely too high and/or your pet is fatigued.
  • Your pet is refusing: Your pet is fatigued. Take a slight break before continuing. If refusal continues, end your training session.

Cavaletti Intensity Level Options

Increase — Place the poles over an unstable surface like pillows, cushions, or wobble boards. This will combine balance and proprioception as well as hip flexion.

Decrease — Lower the poles or reduce the number of reps and/or sets.

Get a printable version of this guide at

Share a photo or video of your pet using your DIY Cavaletti on

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