We dance with our dog in the kitchen or when we want a big ol’ puppy hug, but did you know you and your pup could dance together as a competitive sport? That’s right, “Musical Canine Freestyle,” or simply “Freestyle,” is a competitive sport where a handler dances to a choreographed routine with their dog. Someone say “jazzzz pawwwsss!”
Freestyle got its start in Canada in the early 90’s and since then has made its way around the world. In fact, in 2012 a Freestyle duo, Ashleigh and Pudsey, won Britain’s Got Talent (as well as the heart of the entire UK), making them the first ever dog trick act to win the competition.
So how do you teach your dog to dance? A background in obedience is important for Freestyle dogs. To create the dance, handlers must string small groups of tricks together to form larger groups of tricks. Jumping, rolling, bowing, spinning, and weaving between a handlers legs, are just a few of the tricks a dog might perform during a freestyle dance.
Music also plays an important role in Freestyle, just like it would in any other style of dance. Song selection, as well as a rhythm between the choreography and the music, are important for a high score. Many teams also wear costumes, or use props, that emphasize the overall theme of their music.
Like all sports, Freestyle isn’t always about the competition. Many people find freestyle to a be a fun and creative way to bond and exercise with their dog. The World Canine Freestyle Organization says, “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.”