Canine Freestyle, also known as doggie dancing, only recently began to develop in the early 1990s, when various dog trainers around the world began practicing their obedience and heel work routines to music. With music playing in the background, it was natural to want to do the doggie boogie and start choreographing his moves to fit the music.
At first it was simply a game of heels to music where the dog and handler move as one with the dog close to the handler’s side as they walk around the ring performing some basic obedience moves. Mary Rae from England and Carolyn Scott from the United States were two of the first famous dog trainers to start performing their heel work to music. Today, heel work to music is still a dance category for dogs.
From there, people started to get more creative and started borrowing ideas and movements from dressage. The movement became freer and more creative. The handlers began to move their dogs in lateral, diagonal, circular and backward movements. The trainers opened up their heel work to include five positions, the right heel, the left heel, the front heel, the follow position, and the middle heel where the dog is between your legs. People found canine freestyle to be a liberating space where anything could work, as opposed to the areas of strict obedience, rally, and agility where certain moves were expected in certain places at certain times. Canine Freestyle training develops a more balanced, agile and happy dog than other dog sports. In fact, having a happy dog that has a good connection with the handler is one of the requirements and evaluation aspects of the sport. Doggie Dancing is the sport where tails wag.
Agility moves were introduced as people developed a wide variety of creative jumping tricks, such as jumping between arms, jumping over the back, bouncing on the waist. People also started making their dogs slide between their legs. First forwards, then backwards, while crawling and even doing figure eights. Knitting has become a foundational move in canine freestyle.
Carolyn Scott and Rookie, her golden retriever, wowed the crowd with their very musical style of dancing together. The most popular routine of hers is performed for Grease. Then other trainers began to tell stories and be comedic or dramatic with their routines. Attila and Fly will always be remembered for their Charlie Chapman routine and Gladiator routine. They are both quite classic.
Canine Freestyle is an amazing sport because any dog of any age, any breed, and even disabled dogs can participate and compete. This sport allows the dog and the handlers to choose the movements and songs that suit them best without strict requirements of what you must do. You can easily train in the comfort of your own home, backyard, or park. No special equipment is needed. There is no special need to train in a class. Although training with others always helps to overcome distractions and helps you develop ideas better. People of all ages can enjoy this sport from young children to seniors in wheelchairs or walkers. It’s a great exercise for the dog and the handler, but it’s easy to do with any physical limitations one may have.
Whether you’re training to dance for your friends and showing off all the cool tricks and moves you know, volunteering at a nursing home, or entertaining people at a park. He can take his show on the road and compete in a variety of different competitive organizations or just enjoy performing his dance routines. Doggie Dancing is the fun dog sport to train.