Are you looking for a new hobby or dog sport to do with your Doberman? When choosing an activity to do with your dog, you may be familiar with the more traditional dog sport activities like obedience trials, therapy dog training, search & rescue, and dog conformation shows. Or maybe other dog sports like agility, flyball, tracking, and Schutzhund. But how about canine freestyle dancing? Why not train your dog to be a dancing Doberman.
What is canine freestyle dancing?
Canine freestyle dancing are choreographed dog dancing routines, and they are growing in popularity worldwide. It’s a fun demonstration of obedience lessons, cues, tricks, or heelwork that is set to music.
The freestyle competitions started in the ’90s with groups in Canada, the United States, and England. Musical Canine Sports International, Paws 2 Dance, are clubs in Canada. Canine Freestyle GB and Paws N Music Association are in the United Kingdom. And in the U.S. groups representing the sport include World Canine Freestyle Organization, Canine Freestyle Federation, and Musical Dog Sports Association.
Musical Canine Freestyle Rules
Heelwork to music or musical freestyle routines require complex training. The dogs need to learn a dance routine that may include 20 different commands, which is comparable to advanced obedience competitions. An advanced dog dancing routine may include 30-40 different commands. Not only will the dog be challenged mentally and physically, but the dog will also need to keep to the beat of the music with his owner.
Competition rules vary from the country, group, competition event, and level of difficulty, but most are allotted points based on technical execution, keeping to the music rhythm, and artistic creativity. Depending on the competition event, routines can be done with or without leashes and may include props and costumes. Here are the rules for competition events from the Paws n Music group in the UK. Note that voice and body language is permitted to signal the dog, but food is not allowed in the ring. Scoring will look at things like flow, accuracy, difficulty level, bonding between the dog and handler, dance theme creativity, and audience reaction. The World Canine Freestyle Organization has great guidelines for creating a routine and scoring marks.
Want to get started in Canine Freestyling?
If you’re interested in trying out the dog dancing sport or want to see an event in person, find out if your area has a local group. Or there may be local dog trainers who offer classes in teaching dancing tricks. The other option is to train on your own using the online resources or training videos that some of the groups provide. Rally Freestyle has some training videos online, like this one on teaching circle and cue. Other freestyle skills or tricks to learn will include spins, circling thru legs, figure 8’s, bow, paw lift, backward heels, roll-over, crawl, etc.
Here is the winner of the Crufts 2020 International Freestyle Heelwork to Music and some dancing Dobermans.