So you think you can dance? What about your dog?
If you and your pooch are pretty handy at busting a move, and if you're looking for a fun and challenging sport to do with your pooch, Doggy Dancing could be just what you're looking for. Formally known as canine freestyle or musical canine freestyle, this popular dog sport combines obedience training, canine tricks and, of course, dancing.
It's fun to watch and even better to try out for yourself, but don't expect your dog to get the hang of it right away. To become a fluent Doggy Dancing team, you and your pooch will need plenty of training and practice.
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Signs Your Dog Will Love Doggy Dancing
Does your dog love it when you crank the volume up to 11, pump out some of your favorite tunes, and start dancing around the living room? Do they strut their stuff alongside you, caught up in the fun and excitement of having a bit of fun with their human?
Dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes can give the sport of Doggy Dancing a try, but there are a few key attributes to look for that could all point to the fact that your dog might love this unique canine sport. These include:
- They're easy to train. Teaching your dog to dance can actually be quite complicated. If you're struggling to train even a basic "sit", maybe this isn't the sport for you and your pooch. But if your dog is intelligent and responds well to rewards, it could be worth a shot.
- They want to please you. Does your dog love having a job? Are they always eager to do whatever they can to make you happy? These are good signs that suggest they'll be more than happy to give Doggy Dancing a go.
- They love spending time with you. Training a dog to perform canine freestyle requires plenty of time and effort, and it's a great way for you and your pooch to develop an even stronger bond. If your pet loves finding any excuse to spend time with you, this could be the paw-fect sport.
- They're active. If your dog is energetic and always on the go, Doggie Dancing could be a great outlet for all of their excess energy.
- Wag tail
- Head bobbing
- Play bowing
- They're easy to train
- They're eager to please
- They have high energy levels
- They love spending time with you
The History of Canine Freestyle
The origins of Doggy Dancing can be traced back to 1989, when demonstrations of heelwork to music first started being given in North America, England, and the Netherlands. With existing obedience competitions and demonstrations tending to have more of a serious, structured nature, introducing music allowed handlers and their pets to be a little more creative and have more fun.
Canine freestyle clubs and associations started popping up all over the world throughout the 1990s, and the World Canine Freestyle Organization (WCFO) was formed in 1999.
More recently, the sport gained plenty of worldwide media attention when a dancing duo named Ashleigh and Pudsey won UK talent show, Britain's Got Talent. Pudsey sadly passed away in 2017, but this adorable cross-breed certainly helped generate interest in this unique canine sport.
The Science of Doggy Dancing
When people refer to Doggy Dancing, they could potentially be referring to one of two separate (but very similar) disciplines: canine freestyle or heelwork to music. While the former focuses on tricks and other obedience skills, the latter involves dogs staying in variations of the heel position while the handler moves to music.
In canine freestyle, dogs perform an impressive array of skills and tricks. They can jump, spin, roll over, weave between their handler's legs, and tiptoe on their hind legs. Every move is choreographed with the dance moves of their human partner, with the whole routine set to music.
The emphasis throughout is on the relationship between the dog and their handler. Those duos that boast strong teamwork, rhythm and control are particularly impressive to watch.
Training Your Dog for Doggy Dancing
If you want to give Doggy Dancing a try with your furry friend, the important thing to remember is that it will take some time for your pooch to wrap their head around what's involved. Your dog won't automatically know how to start performing the routines and tricks involved in this fun canine sport, so you'll need to start slowly and show patience right throughout the training process.
If your pet has a strong foundation in obedience, you'll be well placed to make the transition into canine freestyle. If your pet hasn't had much experience with the obedience side of things, start by developing some of the basic skills before moving up to more advanced tricks.
Setting everything to music and putting together a complete routine takes time, as you might imagine, so don't expect instant results. Repetition and consistency are important tools, while providing plenty of rewards will also help.
But the most important thing to remember is to have fun — after all, that's what the sport is all about. It's a little less formal and a little more creative than ordinary obedience training, and the emphasis is on building a strong relationship with your pet. And if you take a relaxed and patient approach and maintain a commitment to having a good time, you and your twinkle-toed pooch could be in for a whole lot of fun.
Doggy Dancing Training Tips:
Start slowly. Teach the basic behaviors and moves first before trying any advanced tricks or complicated routines.
Keep it short and sweet. Long training sessions will become boring and maybe also frustrating for your dog. Keep each session short and enjoyable, and make sure to end on a positive note every time.
Give plenty of rewards. Reward your pet for performing the right skills and tricks. You could use healthy treats or, if your dog isn't food motivated, playtime with their favorite toy, or lots of cuddles and praise might do the trick.
Be patient. Learning a complicated dance routine is hard enough for most people, not to mention your four-legged friend. Stay calm and patient at all times and never get frustrated if your pooch is a slow learner.
Enjoy yourself. The emphasis with Doggy Dancing is completely on fun, so make sure you take a moment to enjoy some quality time with your pet.