Purpose: This video shows the Expert level progression of Cavaletti Circles where the turning radius has been tightened, and I’m asking for multiple continuous reps before rewarding.
Equipment: Set of 10 Cavaletti poles
Targets: I detailed in the video (slow motion / freeze frame) how the tightness of the curve increases the challenge to the hip and shoulder abductors and adductors. Using cavalettis in this way specifically helps, not only to create body awareness and a smooth stride, but also helps to target the stabilizers through the inner and outer hip/stifle, as well as the medial/lateral shoulder by shifting the dog’s center of gravity. This would be considered an expert level progression. The tightened turning radius also requires quite a bit of flexibility through the spine, and works to improve symmetry between the left and right side-body.
Setup: Setup is critical. The inside of the curve should be set to withers height, and fanned out evenly. Using the Cavaletti Circles 1: Advanced spacing as a guide is recommended. Also, 2 body lengths should always be left between the last and first pole to allow the dog a place to receive the reward. If this space is eliminated and the entire Cavaletti Circle filled in with poles, the dog is likely to be confused about stopping in the poles to receive reward. This also poses a stumbling risk, and can result in aversion to this portion of the poles, or the cavaletti setup in general.
- Maintaining a smooth gait, symmetrical amplitude change (up and down movement) and consistent foot lift (no ticking the poles) will be important things to watch for. As the dog fatigues, if there is lack of understanding or if the dog’s body isn’t properly prepared, the above mentioned criteria will degrade.
- Before attempting a curve of this tightness, a dog should be easily able to complete a gentler curve, focus forward away from the handler, and have a clear understanding of foot placement between the poles themselves.