Musical Canine Freestyle
Musical Canine Freestyle—also known as Musical Freestyle,
Freestyle Dance, and Canine Freestyle—is a modern dog
sport that is a mixture of
obedience, tricks, and
that allows for creative interaction between dogs and their owners.
Musical Freestyle - A dog and handler perform in a musical freestyle
There are two types, Musical Freestyle and Freestyle Heeling
(also known as Heelwork to Music), the main difference being that
Freestyle Heeling focuses on a dog's ability to stay in variations of the heel
position while the handler moves to music, whereas Musical Freestyle demands
that the dog perform a variety of tricks and other obedience talents, and places
a greater focus on the trainer's dance abilities and creativity.
Freestyle Competitions - WCFO events offer divisions for
Heelwork-to-Music and Musical Freestyle.
Musical Freestyle started in many places almost simultaneously, and though it
can safely be placed as beginning around 1989, demonstrations of the talent of
heeling to music were shown in
United States, and the
Netherlands within three years of each other, and independently. The main
unifying element among the groups was an interest in allowing more creative
obedience demonstrations and
training, a love of
music, and in
many cases, inspiration from an
Musical freestyle, which was a more creative and dynamic form of
The first musical freestyle group, Musical Canine Sports International,
was founded in
1991. Soon, other groups in the United States and England followed. Each region
began developing its own style, with many American groups promoting more
trick-based routines and
English groups focusing more on heelwork and the dog and less on costumes and
design. Musical freestyle is becoming more frequently demonstrated on animal
talent shows and as specialty acts as well.
Currently, there are several organization regulating competitive freestyle,
such as the World Canine Freestyle Organization
and Canine Freestyle Federation
in North America, and Canine Freestyle GB
and Pawfect K9 Freestyle Club (Japan)
Competition rules vary from group to group, and from country to country, but
most are based on a variety of technical and artistic merit points. Regardless
of the style of routine to be performed, all routines are done free of training
aids or leashes (except in some beginner categories). Competition can be done as
a single dog-and-handler team, as a pair of dogs and handlers, or as a full team
of three or more dogs and their handlers. Generally, for competition, there is
one dog to a person.
In either type of competition, the choice of music and the way the routine
reflects the music is important. Routines that don't seem to follow the pattern
of music, no matter how well executed, do not score well.
Exhibition freestyle is a no-holds-barred routine designed to
demonstrate the full extent of creativity and excitement that Musical freestyle
can offer. Though highly entertaining and representing what most people see on
television or at events, it allows for moves, props, cues, and costumes that
would not always be allowed on the competition circuit.
In heelwork to music, the dog and trainer remain close to each other at all
times, and sending the dog away or doing distance work is not part of the
routine. The dog should appear almost invisibly tethered to his partner,
although this is a tether that comes from training and loyalty. Pivots, moving
diagonally, backwards, forwards, or back to front are important to the routine,
all of course to a suitable musical theme. Jumping, weaving, rolling, passing
through the trainer's legs and anything else 'not heeling' is not allowed.
In musical freestyle, heelwork can be combined with other moves such as leg
weaving, sending the dog away, moving together at a distance, and more dramatic
tricks such as jumps, spins, bows, rolling over, dancing in place, and other
innovative actions where the dog plays off of the dance moves of their partner
are encouraged. A popular finishing trick for some routines is to have a smaller
dog jump into the trainer's arms or over his or her back.
Freestyle in the UK
In the UK, there are 4 stages of competition. Starters, Novice, Intermediate
and Advanced and they often have special classes such as Juniors and Pairs or
groups, often to a selected theme. The marking is based on Technical Merit and
Artistic Interpretation. These categories are worth 10 marks each.
Freestyle for fun
Many people are surprised to learn that you do not need to know how to
dance, to dance
with your dog. Moving together in a simple routine to music is a great way to
put obedience training in action and keep dogs entertained and interested in
Teaching a dog to be able to work on both sides of the handler's body, not
just the left side as in standard obedience heeling, is the first step to doing
freestyle. Simple moves like teaching the dog to back up as the handler moves
forward, to turn in place and to move sideways with the handler are the
foundation of any freestyle routine. The trainer selects a short musical piece,
a minute or two, that reflects the dog's attitude and pace in doing his moves
(some dogs do better with a
rock and roll boogie), and decides what moves would go best with the music.
To start with, the trainer breaks the routine into pieces with only two or three
moves linked together, and the trainer and dog work harder, these pieces are
The goal is to have fun; a handler or dog becoming stressed indicates that
it's time to take a break. The most important thing is that dog and human get to
spend time together, not that the dog can do tricks for friends.
- Other information
| List of Dog Sports
| List of Protection Sports
| Dog Fighting
| Sled Dog
| Greyhound Racing
| Companion Dog Title
| Dachshund Racing
| Disc Dog
| Dog Agility
| Dog Harness
| Dog Racing
| Dog Scootering
| Dog Show
| Drag Hunting
| Lure Coursing
| Musical Canine Freestyle
| Sheepdog Trial
| Weight Pulling
| Wiener Nationals
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