NEK9 Conditioning Blog

Reflections, articles, videos and more on topics related to canine conditioning

How to Make Your Own Cavaletti (Super Easy & Cheap!)


If you're interested in canine fitness and don’t know about cavaletti, you need to check them out! I was first introduced to cavaletti when I was younger and learning how to jump horses.

Cavaletti are small jumps that are frequently used for basic horse training. They were invented to help horses improve balance, adjust stride length, and loosen and strengthen muscles. I use them with my dogs for improving such things as body awareness, spatial awareness, gaiting and jumping. I also use them for warming up my dog, cardio exercise, and plyometric strength training exercises (when raised higher).

When teaching cavaletti to my dogs, I start with them low on the ground and have my dog walk and trot over them. You want your dog to look straight ahead when going through while maintaining a nice, fluid pace. I start by setting the cavaletti poles wide enough so that my dog’s feet land right in the middle of each pole. I keep them evenly spaced apart.

When we are ready to make it more challenging, I mix up both spacing and pole height. If you want to get some great, creative ideas for using cavaletti, just do a YouTube search with keywords such as “cavaletti horse exercises,” “cavaletti horse training,” and other variations of these terms.

When using cavaletti for a more strenuous workout, I raise one or more polls to add jumping to the exercise. Check out my Facebook Live show from last Friday to see how I set this up in my backyard. If you fast forward to the 18 minute 34 second mark, you’ll see how I use them for backyard cardio exercises.

You can purchase cavaletti online from places that sell canine fitness equipment, but I also like to create my own. You can use FitPaws’ “agility kit” and “hurdle set” for your cavaletti. (FitPaws doesn’t use the term “cavaletti” when they sell these items.) Here are some items that you can use if you decide to make then on your own.

  • I’ve purchased a set of orange soccer cones on Amazon and drilled holes in them to make my own cavaletti. I set the holes at three different heights. I then purchased 10 foot PVC pipes from Home Depot and cut them in half to create 5-foot poles to go with my cones.
  • Instead of orange cones, I’ve heard of people using cheap plastic laundry baskets. You can buy them online at places like Walmart and Target. Get the types of baskets that have holes in them so that you can slide the poles through the holes without having to do any drilling.
  • For softer and more forgiving poles that can be used with older dogs, consider using foam pool noodles.

If you want more information on how to create and use cavaletti for canine fitness, check out last week’s Facebook Live show. During the show, I shared some of the cheap items that I found online that can be used to create your own cavaletti. I bet if you look around the house or browse through items on a Walmart or Target website, you’ll come up with many more creative ways to build your own cavaletti!

~Erica

P.S. Interested in learning more about canine fitness and how to integrate cavaletti into a balanced fitness program? Don’t forget about our Elite K9 AthleteK9 Peak Performance and Mission Ready K9 online programs!