Ready. Set. Let’s Go! Come Dance With Me

Do you like to dance?  Are you looking for the perfect dance partner?  Well, look no further than your four-legged friend.  Yes, you can train your dog to dance with you!  You probably can’t take him to the club, as they might not want all the dog hair on the dance floor. However, you can put together a great dance routine and show off at more dog-friendly venues. Intrigued?

Canine freestyle is a performance event in which teams of dog and person learn how to move to music together.  The World Canine Freestyle Organization defines it as “…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…”

Canine Freestyle illustrates the satisfaction of working as a team and combines obedience training with creativity.  Oftentimes, props are used to enhance the performance. 

Before starting canine freestyle training, you must teach your dog basic obedience commands.  These commands should include, at a minimum, come, sit, down, stand, wait, pick something up in mouth, carry the object, and drop the object.  The more commands or tricks your dog knows, the more elaborate your dance routine can be.  Ideally, all commands should be trained with signals as well as with voice.  When your dog has mastered the tricks you wish to incorporate into a dance, it’s time to choose the music and choreograph your dance routine.  When practicing the routine with your dog, make sure you don’t get frustrated.  Always, be patient and positive while training.  Your dog may have mastered all the tricks, but it is still challenging to keep his attention while you are dancing around.  It may also be challenging for your dog to understand the commands you give him, whether verbal or physical when they’re part of an overall routine.  A lot of movement can distract him to the point of not noticing the command he’s being given.  Therefore, good training, patience and a lot of practice are required.  Once you have both mastered the dance routine, it is time to pick outfits.  You can choose an outfit just for yourself, or you can dress your canine partner up as well.  Matching costumes are fun and can enhance the performance, but they are not imperative.  If you choose an outfit for your dog, make sure he can move comfortably while wearing it.

Canine freestyle can be a wonderfully bonding hobby and good exercise for all involved.  If you think that this might be the right activity for you and your dog, you can get more information at World Canine Freestyle Organization, Canine Freestyle Federation, and Musical Dog Sport Association to name a few. Check it out. Who knows, you and your dog could be the next Fred and Ginger.

Thank you to Sharon Ferraro and her Afghan Aiden for sharing their performance!