To begin, use 4-6 poles and set the poles low at 2”. You can use painters’ tape to keep poles in place on short cans, like cans of tuna. For trotting, space the poles to match the height of your dog at the withers. Subtract a quarter to a third of that distance for walking. The goal is for one front and one hind paw on opposite sides to land between the poles. Walk next to your dog to encourage him or her to walk over the poles in one direction, turn around, and repeat. Once your dog is comfortable with stepping over the poles, gradually increase the number of passes over the poles.
When you have trained walking over the poles, increase the distance to trotting spacing and move more quickly next to the poles so your dog will trot over the poles. As your dog progresses and finds his trotting rhythm, gradually increase the distance between poles by an inch at a time (if your dog hits the poles, you’ve widened them too far). There are many variations that provide challenges. Watch in this video as Jessica B. and her dog Ziggy engage in cavaletti using pipes and poles around Jessica’s yard.
For more ways to improve your dog’s fitness at home, join canine fitness guru Lori Stevens for Four-Legged, Fit, and Confident, a series of 5 weekly video webinars with live Q&A beginning May 20. Register for the full series (and save 10%!) or purchase webinars individually for $24.95! Get Fido Fit!