DANCING WITH YOUR DOG
Dancing with your dog, otherwise known as Canine Freestyle is quickly becoming one of the most rewarding sports that you can do with your dog. In essence, it is a choreographed set of moves that is performed by you and your dog to a tune that you enjoy listening to and that fits your dog's rhythm. The beauty of this new sport is that you are limited only by your imagination and your ability to train your dog new tricks. Additionally, it is a sport that can be done with you and your dog alone or you may choose to entertain audiences.
There are approximately 20 basic moves that, when combined with each other, offer the team an unlimited variety of moves that can be incorporated into a routine the following are a few examples
· Dog circles handler clockwise or counter clockwise
· Dog spins in place clockwise or counter clockwise in front of or to the side of the handler
· Dog does Figure 8 around handler's legs
· Dog weaves in and out of handler's legs while handler is walking
· Dog jumps handler's legs, arms or prop
· Dog lifts his right and then left front paw as if to be waving
· Dog bows
· Dog heels on handler's right or left side
· Dog sidesteps to handler's right or left while standing at handler's side or facing handler
· Dog rolls over on the ground
· Dog sits up or lays down
Training these moves is not as difficult as you might think. Havanese make excellent students and even the novice trainer will soon discover how quickly they will learn what you want them to do. Here are a few examples of how you might teach some of the above moves.
Selecting music is the key to a successful performance. The pace your dog keeps is of paramount consideration in selecting music. Most Havanese have a very flashy, happy, whimsical pace. I find that Rock and Roll music from the late 50's and 60's including the Beach Boys offer many good choices. Country Western also has some great music for our little guys to dance to. You should look for music with or without lyrics with a happy, uplifting beat. If you find a song with lyrics and wish to write them down so you can plan your routine around them a good site to go to is Lyricsfind.com . It contains lyrics to many of the more popular songs. This is just one of many sites that offer both lyrics and music that you can listen to.
Most handlers will wear an outfit that compliments their dog's routine. It should not take away from the dog but should add to the enjoyment of the audience. Dogs can wear a special collar or a scarf but usually nothing more than that. PROPS you will sometimes see handlers using props in the ring. For example, a cane might be used in the routine for the dog to walk around, jump over or stand with front paws perched on the cane.
There are currently three Freestyle Organizations that will provide you with everything you need to get started. You will find listings of upcoming events including locations of demos in your area. You will be able to order training videos and videos of actual competitions and demos. The sites will allow you to download video clips so you can get a better idea of what freestyle dancing includes. Each site will offer valuable training tips and links to other sources of information. All three of these organizations offer you the opportunity to sign up for their e-mal lists where there is an ongoing discussion.
The first site I would like to direct you to is the Musical Dog Sport Association. This is the newest of the Freestyle organizations. If you click on SEE FREESTYLE you will be able to view video clips of several different dogs. This site also makes available a list of approximately 50 different freestyle moves. The list is broken down into the following categories: Skill, Difficulty, Description, Voice Cue and Body Cue. This list can be viewed by clicking on the On Line Workshop on the left side of the page.
The World Canine Freestyle Organization is the largest and the first freestyle organization in the US.
Canine Freestyle Federation is second organization to be formed in the US. The objectives of this group differ from the other two groups and the routines lean more toward Heelwork to music.
In addition to the Freestyle Organizations, Carolyn Scott, the founder of the Musical Dog Sports, has her own website which is full of interesting video clips and training articles.