Everyone knows that dance is a joyful and fun thing to do. Well, guess what? Your dog thinks so too!
What Is Musical Canine Freestyle?
Musical canine freestyle is a sport that’s relatively new to the competition scene. It’s a competition that’s a mixture of dance, tricks, and obedience training. Perhaps this sporting event was directly thought of due to the popularity of the equine sport called “musical kur” where a horse and rider go through an elaborate dressage set to music.
Although musical freestyle was more common in talent shows and specialty shows, groups in America and England have taken to this sport in recent years. The first official musical canine freestyle group was formed in British Columbia, Canada in 1991. There are now several organizations dedicated to regulating musical canine freestyle. They are: World Canine Freestyle Organization, Canine Freestyle Federation, the Musical Dog Sport Association in the United States, Paws 2 Dance Canine Freestyle Organization in Canada, Canine Freestyle GB in Great Britain, and Pawfect K9 Freestyle Club in Japan. The Kennel Club has officially recognized the sport in the UK and it is called Heelwork to Music. There are many websites dedicated to the sport, with information on training and videos of competition performances. Although regulations vary from country to country all competitions are done leash free and without training aids. Dogs can compete as a team with other dogs and handlers or one-on-one with a handler. The choice of music is key to the performance as any competitor not in rhythm with the music will not score well.
Freestyle Heeling and Musical Freestyle
Musical canine freestyle consists of two separate categories, freestyle heeling and musical freestyle. In both categories you can see the close bond between the dog and handler. To perform freestyle heeling the dog and trainer must remain close to each other during the performance. Anything considered “not heeling” is not allowed. The dog is not allowed to perform tricks or do movement away from the handler. No, pivots, rolling, or weaving through the trainers legs is permitted. Musical freestyle is the time to incorporate these things, as well as adding dramatic tricks such as jumping, weaving through legs, rolling over, spinning and dancing in place in addition to the heel work.
Training Your Dog for Musical Canine Freestyle
Training your dog to do musical canine freestyle might take a fair amount of time, but there is no cost. In addition to knowing how to heel on both the left and right side, your dog will have to learn walking backwards, walking diagonally, pivoting in place and side stepping. Use your imagination. The possibilities are endless. The goal of the sport is to demonstrate the grace and athleticism of the dog. All movements are natural movements used by your dog when at play. Unless you are planning to use an elaborate, unnatural trick in your performance, there are no health risks associated with this sport. As a matter of fact, the training used for this sport will not only keep your dog active and healthy, the choreographed movements will improve the dog’s balance and coordination.
Photo: Courtesy of Dmitry Kalinin via Flickr (CC by 2.0)