Bent Cavaletti

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 and let reward placement work for you.

Stride Regulation

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 and an appropriate moment to place the disc.

Bent Cavaletti

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    1. Nice looking apparatus, Bob… Looks like the cones are just a bit too far apart.

      I think you are a bit too far away from the cones as the thrower. Try about 1/2 that distance. Being so far back removes the sharp angle from the setting of the flank and allows the dog to release to the center and still get access to the disc.

      This is very important for you and Scout because of your “Out and Back” history that we talked about in the hangout last night. Get a little closer and you’ll get a sharper flank and you can start to work on crossing those planes as we talked about last night.

      Same thing… notice that release to the center… moving to the right as you did will help, but there’s still too much space between you and the cone to create a sharp flank.

      It’s funny… you keep throwing further over to the left and Scout keeps sticking to the inside the cone trajectory – again largely because of your history of “Out and Back” but also because you are too far away from the Cone – I’d say that’s about 7 yards. Try 3. The total throw should be 7 yards max.

      I don’t know if you noticed but the drop really got sticky at about
      45 seconds, I believe due to mild fatigue and the desire of Scout to pace himself for the 5 minutes of work that is surely coming. Make sure when you are working that you take a break,”Go Do Dog Stuff!” before he gets tired. Try 45 second mini-sessions.

      There you go, Bob. That’s what the apparatus should look like. Although I do believe that you moved it to give yourself more room to make the throw out to the left… But that, right there, is what the apparatus should look like. If you stand 3 yards from the cone you will have no problems setting that flank out to the outside of the cone.

      Now the apparatus is too tight, not unlike Justyna’s…
      You are now about 16 yards away from the apparatus – looks like 6 or 7 strides by Scout to get to the apparatus. It should be 2 or 3 strides.

      Try This
      Set your cones as they were @3:28. You can use this field, but instead of playing to the endzone (towards the hill and trees) turn everything 90 degress and put your back towards the downhill portion of the yard and throw to what is the left of the screen on your video here. This will allow you to throw towards the sidelines.

      Stand 2-3 yards MAX from the cone, slightly off center, cheating towards the cone that you are sending Scout out on.

      This should make it much more likely that Scout gets out around that cone and it will also make the flank much more sharp, helping you guys break out of that out and back pattern. Run 45 seconds then stop and take a break for 1-3 minutes – “Go Do Dog Stuff!” Then reset and try again. You should be able to get 3 minutes of work in 10 and avoid that fatigue factor.

    1. For better stride regulation you can use 2 or 3 of your poles 2cm apart for each rung of the stride regulator. It totally works. So you’d need 4 or 6 poles for each side of the apparatus to make the two rungs you currently have more impressive for the dog.

      Your vertical posts are a little too close. Looks like 1.5 M between them… try 4M betweent them.

      @0:44 – First attempt was too early – you did not withhold the throw, but the second worked fine, there’s just not enough space for the dog to step, step, collect… jump! as the center of the apparatus is not far enough from the stride regulators. As you have this set up, the throw should probably be going over the vertical riser of the other wing jump.

      Seems to me that “Get it” is the flank and “Go” is the bending move which could be why when you say,”Go,” she’s moving straight to the center. Smart girl…

      Also, with the narrow spread of the posts, the flank is not very aggressive, it’s almost a simple throw out in front of you, more distance between the poles means more of an angle on the flank.

      2:53 – you can really see what her strong side is, can’t you?

      3:30 – Notice that she’s not looking back when the throw is not released to the flank. She’s actually looking the other way. Wait to throw until she looks back to you.

      Good first attempt. You really did a nice job of setting the flank and getting her conditioned to ‘Getting Out’. Spread the posts out a little, double up on the stride regulators (each rung=2 poles 2cm apart) and wait on the look to the handler for the throw to the center and this drill should start working for you. I noticed her jumping over both stride regulators a few times. Perhaps they are too close together?

  1. Ron, thanks for your response. As always, very useful. I changed the distance between the uprights and voila… I think I see improvement. Either that, or she just got tired 😉 I sense this is a drill that I should do regularly and not expact magical results the first time. But I think there already are some leaps there, not impressive and she doesn’t look confident and comfortable in the air, but still, it’s something.

    1. If I had to guess, I’d say you’re at least 5 meters from the apparatus. This poses two problems: It makes the setting of the flank weak – the dog will run out to 11 o clock or 11:30 (from your throwing perspective), as is happening here… the dog should be running out at 10 o clock or even 9:30 on a well set flank…
      it also allows the dog too much speed and distance, making the stride regulation and collection weaker or less apparent.

      So get a little closer to the apparatus, 3M max, and scoot over just a little bit to the center or the other post (scoot left towards the center on your clockwise go round).


      Flank is weak, adjust as prescribed above. Stride regulation looks better, and I do believe that was a leap at 0:26. It was not a powerful leap because the disc was a bit too far behind Eda. That’s what this drill is about: both dog and handler figuring out timing, distance and collection. It will get better quickly.

      The go around is much better, Justyna, and your drop is money. I like to mark the drop with yes and reinforce with the go around cue, but you are essentially marking with the next cue which is totally acceptable and a well known tactic in dog sports and dog training in general.


      I’d like to see a longer break on blowing off the skill, but it’s not too bad. Just be careful that you do not just flow into another attempt after a poor performance of your target behavior.

      @0:35 seconds, you’ll want to place that disc 3 yards past the other vertical riser on the left post. That will allow Eda to move into the leap instead of being cut short by your toss to the center of the apparatus (my bad… poor instruction)… She should be making the catch as she’s on a perpendicular path to the target about 2 or 2.5 strides from the regulators. Again, my bad on teh instruction…

      Great session length! If your dog is killing these leaps and handling the apparatus easily a longer session is possible, but learning is hard. Really, really nice length of session here, Justyna!


      She is not over pursuing, she is pattern trained. There is a difference. She’s expecting a 15m throw – she wants to RUN!!!

      It was a leap @1:21! Go Eda! And another…

      It is interesting, @1:30 she used the stride regulators as a collection or loading box (a place where the dog collects/loads for the leap…), a tactic I have played with and used and something you could work as your throwing skills get stronger and you’re able to hit that spot all the time. Super cool!

      @1:46 there’s a nice leap even though the disc is still a bit behind her. But you’ll see that the placement is closer to the vertical riser on the other (right) post. Get a bit further out and you’re going to see magic.

      @1:58 – interesting that she made that quick, rushed collection – fast, sticatto feet – after the stride regulation… Have you done gridwork with her? Set Point Exercises? If so, try them with her leaping and grabbing a target like Railslide with Prima.

      @2:08 – I think you are right. Notice the difference in collection. It was still rushed but not as bad as 1:58.

      @2:18 – Again, notice the collection. Much slower and more deliberate. You are dialing it in!

      Another great session length.

      Try this:

      Get a bit closer to the apparatus and more towards the left post on the clockwise go around, which seems to be her weak side (or perhaps your weak side – makes sense with a left handed thrower).

      Work on your floater and place it so she’s on a more perpendicular path to the disc.

      And here’s the fun part. Switch between clockwise and counter clockwise go arounds on each repetition: Counter clockwise… catch… drop… then clockwise… catch… drop. Counter Clockwise… repeat.

      Good stuff Ladies!

    1. 0:00-1:00

      You are not in the picture and there’s at least 6 yards of space between you and the apparatus. 10 feet, MAX! This deep placement of the handler makes setting the flank the same as a normal throw. Stand on the cone and take 4 large steps away from it, and that is where you want to start throwing from.

      Drop looked pretty good for the first 30 seconds. Might have been a good time to quit and take a big win on the drop.

      @0:44 where you are bending down picking up the Frisbee is where you need to be throwing from.
      Great job reinforcing the drop at 0:59!!!


      Really nice job on the PVR mixed with this apparatus. That is what this should look like. You are still a bit too far back, but it’s good work. We can see the fatigue affects on the drop though. You have got to quit before this happens. 30 second to 1 minute mini-sessions to make sure the drop happens well. I’m afraid to go on watching… 😉


      I am so proud of you Bob!!! Great job waiting! Now, make sure you quit before that happens. lol That should never happen if you do your job appropriately. So funny… you finally do it and I tell you not to let it happen again…

      As well as waiting, I’d like you to add packing it in (quitting the session) and perhaps an additional cue if you believe he has forgotten the cue. All three of these consequences for the refusal of the drop cue should be used sparingly as you will quit the game before they happen.

      Very good work here… You should have quit at 3:40.

      Quitting at 3:50 would have been bad ass as well.

      Great finish!

      Try This:

      4 large steps from Cone. 1 minute sessions, max. Work the PVR into setting the flank. Work PVR into the bend of the Bent Cavaletti as the drill prescribes.


    Here’s my third attempt at doing cavaletti. I really think I tried to make sure everything was *just right* this time: distance between uprights – 5 meters, my distance from uprights 3 meters, throwing 3 meters beyond *other upright* (OK, attempting to, but have a look at my targets on the ground). And well… I’ve clearly nicely pattern trained her to go around the uprights (useful behavior) and have significantly improved my around in the clockwise direction (also useful behavior) but other than that, there’s not much leaping happening. Actually, less than the last time.

    But if you follow through until the end, you will see that there is some leaping going on when I try a short zig zag on a 90 degree flank.

    I will try the railside jump as well, film, share. Plus, if you have any other ideas…. What’s your take on the hula hoop and how do you use it exactly? (if you use it at all). I’ve tried it but most likely it’s not the method that’s not working but my application of it.

    1. We handled this in chat/hangout, right? Either that or I seem to have lost a comment… 🙂
      I’ll be working a comment up soon.

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