Get Some Exercise - Have Some Fun - Teach Your Dog to Dance!
Maybe you've watched some doggie freestyle competitions and you're thinking, me and my dog can do that! Why not? Dancing is fun, great exercise and a wonderful way to bond with your dog.
What Is Canine Freestyle?
The World Canine Freestyle Association defines canine freestyle as: "Musical Freestyle is a choreographed musical program performed by handlers and their dogs. The object of musical freestyle is to display the dog and handler in a creative, innovative and original dance, using music and intricate movements to showcase teamwork, artistry, costuming, athleticism and style in interpreting the theme of the music. Heelwork-to-Music incorporates traditional dog obedience and the art of dressage with the inclusion of musical interpretation, dance elements, and costuming with an emphasis on non-standard obedience movements. Both Musical Freestyle and Heelwork-To-Music routines should create a visually exciting display which is enjoyable to watch and which is equally enjoyable to dogs and handlers executing the programs. Canine freestyle is a showcase that truly demonstrates the joys and fun of bonding with your pet."
However, you don't have to compete. Heck, you don't even have to let anyone know that you dance with your dog. Maybe it's just something fun to do when you get home from work. A little energy burning and quality time. Wondering how to start?
Find Your Rhythm
The first thing you need to do if figure out what music matches your dog's rhythm. Try different types of music while walking in synch with your dog. This is called gaiting and you should be able to see when your dog is walking, trotting or galloping in time with the music. If you can't tell, try videotaping a training session. You should be able to see when your dog really seems to have the beat. Then you can choose this style of music for routines. Of course, if you're just doing this for fun, who cares if you're both off beat. The important thing is to find music that you and your dog enjoy.
Find Your Moves
Once you've chosen the music that you'll both dance to, play around with your dog. Do turns and circles while heeling in time to the music. If you are already dance see if some of the moves you already know encourage your partner to do something similar. Be imaginative and think up fun complementary moves that your dog can make along with you. If you know any dance movements, see which ones can be adapted to having a dog as a partner.
Teach a New Trick
Find some cool moves that you can teach, ones that may or may not be as natural for your dog to do. Maybe walk on his hind legs, jump up or turn. You can get these on a verbal cue and call them out while you dance. If you're going to dance competitively, calling out commands is legal. And if you're just having fun, it's a great way to interact
Create a Routine
Once you have your dog doing a few cool moves on cue, you can build a routine. Take those movements and use them as framework. Decide what order they go in and how to fit them to the music. Do fast moves and then slow moves. Figure out what your finale will be. Whether you are performing for others or just dancing alone, there's only one rule: have fun!