Cavalettis have been used to adjust horses strides for a long time. They can be used deliberately and at low speed and can be used at higher speeds as well. The Bent Cavaletti drill is about forcing collection and creating an angle for an interception which are two keys for big leaping.
Setting the Flank
Send the dog around and Set the Flank. Setting the Flank is probably one of the most important skills of a proper disc dog foundation, and it’s also a skill that is most often forgotten about by disc dog handlers. It is a key element in both flatwork and big leaping.
The closer the handler gets to the ‘pole’ (construction cone in the video) the more aggressive the angle of the setting of the flank becomes. I am probably a bit too far back for a proper flank, you should notice that the angles I set on my flanks are not very aggressive. Apryl and Kiva do a better job of setting the flank in some of their footage. But once the drill gets working and the dog has the concept of ‘getting out’ around the cone, slide back a bit to serve a nice floater up for the dog at roughly 7-9 yards.
If the dog is struggling with the get out, just continue to work on Setting the Flank means to throw out to your right or left. It’s really simple, just face any direction, send the dog Around, and then turn and throw the disc out to the side. It is important to face forward first, as the Flank is out at 9 or 3 o’clock, and you want to condition the dog to be... and let reward placement work for you.
We are using PVC gutters as stride regulators, any long pole-like obstacles can deliver the same effect. Experiment with placement of the stride regulators so that the dog doesn’t take them in a single bound as Kiva did a few times in the video and also to get different collection results from the dog while working this drill.
The stride regulators are there to create collection. Place the disc no more than 3 strides away from the stride regulators or the point of collection.
If PVC poles are used and the dog is not impressed enough with them to want to avoid them, place 2 or 3 poles an inch or three apart as a stride regulator. This will make them more impressive and the dog will try to avoid that area.
Notice how the stride regulators change a dog’s gait and also notice how poor timing or a short throw affects a dog’s ability to leap and/or navigate the cavaletti.
Timing and Placement
The great thing about this drill is that it forces an interception and regulates the dog’s pace and stride. The rules and consistency of the Bent Cavaletti allows the team to start to understand how to create and handle an interception in terms of timing and placement and improves the odds of success in this critical skill. This is a huge part of training your dog to leap and to leap big.
In the video Apryl starts off throwing a lazy floater and Kiva really over pursues and winds up landing rather poorly. Just a few reps on this apparatus and Apryl and Kiva hook up with better timing and the trajectory and intent of the leap start to change. Timing and placement problems are very common and absent a consistent pattern run by the dog and consistent placement of the disc by the handler. This drill gives teams both a consistent pattern and a reference point for selecting an appropriate Spot is a “go to a place”, or “go to a mat” behavior. This means that the dog seeks out and performs a duration behavior on a spot of the handler’s choosing. A Pedestal is a raised spot. Anything a dog can leap onto and perch upon. Spots and Pedestals are important dog training tools.... and an appropriate moment to place the disc.