Canine Fitness Equipment: Caveletti Poles
Caveletti poles are a staple for agility dog fitness and skills training. Indeed, they are often the first piece of equipment purchased for home use by an aspiring agility handler. Despite the perception that Cavelettis are “for agility’, they in fact are an extremely useful and versatile piece of canine fitness equipment that can provide benefits to dogs of all ages, sizes and fitness level.
Caveletti poles can be used to force the dog to either go over or under the poles, depending on the height that is set relative to the dog’s body size.
For the more traditional use case of “over the poles”, there are several fitness benefits to the dog including:
- Improve active range of motion, awareness, and eye-limb coordination
- Facilitate a more equal weight bearing across all four limbs
- Facilitate proper walking patterns and stride length
A dog practicing moving “under the poles” exercises will receive slightly different benefits including:
- Improve body awareness and control through space
- Strong core muscles
- Strong upper back muscles and pulling capability
When setting up the poles, it is recommended that they are set at a distant that is about equal to the distance between the dog’s withers and the ground. (The withers is the ridge between the shoulder blades). The poles should be set no higher than the dog’s knees (for most over drills).
You don’t want the dog to leap over the poles, rather have them walk or trot over them. This forces them to concentrate on placement and pace.
The dog can be led over the poles in a forward motion or, as an alternative, they can perform a sideway step over drill. For the sideway step over drill, have the dog step over from alternating sides being sure to equally balance the reps for each side.
When under the poles work, you want to set them at a height that provides 6-12 inches or so of clearance when the dog is in a lying prone position. This will provide enough room for the dog to crawl under while still providing a challenge to them if they try to stand up too much. The key with the under drills is to force the dog to crawl through the obstacle and preclude them from standing up while moving through.