Canine freestyle dancing is a real thing, people! Dog dancing is a modern dog sport popular in several places worldwide. And if you’re into it, you’ve got a favorite doggy dancing team of your own who you love to follow.
A Little History about Canine Freestyle Dancing
Canine freestyle dancing started around 1989 as musical freestyle in many places. The talent of heeling to music began in Canada, England, the United States, and the Netherlands. And they all started within three years of each other. All of these groups were interested in more creative dog obedience demonstrations and training combined with a love of music.
Musical Canine Sports International was the first official musical freestyle group. It was founded in British Columbia, Canada, in 1991. And it wasn’t long after this group was founded that other groups in the United States and England also began. Groups in each of the areas began developing their own style. For example, American groups were into trick-based routines and costumes. English groups were focused more on heel work and on the dog.
There are two divisions of the canine dancing sport:
- Freestyle Heeling (Heel work to Music) – handlers work with their dogs in heel for two-thirds of their routine. Freestyle heeling focuses on your dog's ability to stay in variations of the heel position while you move to music. You and your dog remain close to each other at all times as if your dog is almost invisibly tethered to you. Actions considered “not heeling,” like jumping into your arms, over your back, sending your dog away, or doing distance work, are not allowed.
- Musical Freestyle – a less formal routine that emphasizes the partnership between dogs and their handlers. In a musical freestyle routine, your dog must perform a variety of tricks and other obedience talents. Heel work can be combined with other moves (leg weaving, sending your dog away, moving together at a distance, and more dramatic tricks such as jumping, spinning, bowing, rolling over). Dancing in place and actions where your dog plays off your dance moves are encouraged.
Freestyle means exactly that, free style. And the handlers don’t have to work with their dogs in heel. The first step to doing freestyle dancing is teaching your dog to work on both sides of your body, not just the left side which is done in standard obedience heeling. First, you break your routine into pieces with only two or three moves linked together. Then, as your dog progresses, these pieces of the routine are linked together.
This dog sport is also known as musical freestyle, freestyle dance, and canine freestyle. Canine freestyle dancing is one part obedience training, one part dance, and one part tricks or theatrics. It allows for creative interaction between the handler and their dog.
Two-thirds of a canine freestyle dancing routine must be performed completely hands-free. And each team is judged on three things:
- Their content
- The accuracy of their moves
- How they interpret the music
Deductions are given if the freestyle dancing dog barks too much or makes mistakes.
The bond between your dog and you is very important in freestyle. Your dog has to pay attention to you constantly to get the cues, whether they are verbal or physical.
Enjoy this video of handler Sandra Davis & Pepper, her Border Collie, canine freestyle dancing to “Achy Breaky Heart”.
Does the Sport Canine Freestyle Dancing Interest You?
Most of the top dog competitors in canine freestyle dancing are Border Collies and Golden Retrievers. But all breeds and mixes are welcome to participate, no matter the organization. A handler named Karen Lewis competes with her six-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bryce. He also competes in agility.
Currently, there are several organizations regulating competitive freestyle:
- World Canine Freestyle Organization
- Canine Freestyle Federation
- Musical Dog Sport Association
- Paws 2 Dance
- Canine Freestyle GB
- Pawfect K9 Freestyle Club in Japan
In the UK, the sport is called Heelwork to Music and is an officially recognized sport of the Kennel Club.
Most competitions are based on technical and artistic merit. And rules for competitions vary from group to group, and from country to country. But all routines are free of training aids or leashes, with the exception of some beginner categories. Most often there is only one dog per handler in competitions. But you can compete as a single dog-and-handler team, pair of dogs and handlers, or full team of three or more dogs and their handlers.
LASERwrap® Therapy for Pre- and Post-Competition Preparation
We recommend the Spectra Therapy Canine Wearable LASERwrap® to dog owners and handlers for the care of their canine athletes. Why? Because laser therapy does the following for your performer:
- It calms and relaxes your dog
- Helps your dog to focus better during competition
- Extends energy levels during competition
- If your dog suffers an injury, it cuts injury recovery time in half. For example, an iliopsoas muscle strain is common for dog athletes. But with proper rest and laser therapy, recovery time is cut in half.
Do the Benefits of the Spectra Therapy Canine Wearable LASERwrap® Interest You?
It should! It's ideal for every canine athlete, and you can use it in the convenience of your own home! If the benefits of the Spectra Therapy Canine Wearable LASERwrap® for your canine freestyle dancing athlete interest you, contact us at (248) 524-6300 today. And please, share your thoughts and comments below.