Purpose: We use cavaletti poles a lot in conditioning. But in order to have proper striding, the dog must focus forward, away from the handler and into the distance. This helps the dog not only scope the distance between the individual poles, but also have proper head position through the trot, and an independent performance. This video details how I teach this very first phase of the Cone Wrap/Intro to Cavaletti exercise. This is the very first session and covers the entire process I use.
Equipment: 1-2 cones or similar stanchions.
NOTE: While this is not a completely necessary component of straight line cavaletti poles, when asking for a sustained trot, or the cavaletti poles are set on a curve or circle as detailed in Cavaletti Circles 2: Expert, using handler motion to assist the dog becomes very cumbersome and distracting.
Targets: Before introducing the dog to the cavaletti poles, I like to have an independent cone send / cone wrap. This sets the dog up for success, as they have reward history moving away from the handler by focusing on the cone, as the CONE produces the reward (shown/explained in the video). Having a reward history focusing forward, avoids many of the issues a dog faces when initially introduced to cavaletti poles like tripping, stepping on the poles, needing the handlers motion for guidance, etc.
- I lure the first 2 phases of this process, which means the cookie produces the movement in the dog. Pretty quickly though, I allow the dog to CHOOSE whether or not he makes the correct movement… In that moment of choice, the cookie changes from a LURE to a REWARD. This is the place most people get stuck… And why luring sometimes has a bad reputation.
- Making that transition early in the training process helps the dog be less dependent on the handler/hand, and teaches them to think for themselves.
- It’s important to mention, there is no speed introduced at all into this cone wrap movement. If you notice, Ron Burgundy is never even at a full trot and most of the turning is done at a walk. Also, during the moments of freeze frame, look at how much his front and rear legs are in abduction / adduction to create the curved movement. This is such a great visual example of how SLOW movement can produce a lot of engagement through the hip and shoulder stabilizers. Fast movement / using momentum often allows the dog to avoid using these small stabilizers.
Necessary Prerequisite Skills:
- Follow cookie in hand
- Follow tossed cookie
NOTE: Please forgive the typos in the on-screen text. I had already compressed the text into the video and I wasn’t going to re-edit the entire thing.