Janet always thought her border collie Athena resembled a canine Ginger Rogers. This athletic four-year-old dog excelled in her obedience class. She’s also quite a ham, spinning and jumping for the sheer joy of it. Although she doesn’t know it, Athena’s a good candidate for canine freestyle dance. This fast-growing competitive sport enables a human-canine team to create an entertaining musical routine showcasing the duo’s movement and communication skills. As with any high-energy activity, Athena’s veterinarian will give her a complete physical exam first. He or she will want to ensure the dog is healthy enough to participate.
Does this sounds like something you and your dog would enjoy?
Canine Freestyle Routine Basics
Freestyle dance allows a dog to execute an impressive routine that can include jumps, spins, and weaving backward through your legs. You can give her verbal cues and hand signals; however, you can’t use training aids or treats. For more entertainment value, many contestants wear coordinating costumes that match their theme music. And speaking of music, each dog seems to have their favorite genre. Try different music styles until you find one that gives your dog that extra-special spark.
During a competition, judges issue points based on several criteria. They’ll probably consider your costumes, your musical interpretation, and your dog’s level of enthusiasm.
Canine Freestyle Dance Benefits
This energetic sport will provide you and your dog with improved flexibility, strength, and endurance. The fast-paced movement, and need for attention to your cues and signals, will help to sharpen her mental skills. Finally, you’ll likely experience a stronger human-canine bond, the biggest benefit of all.
Freestyle Dance Participant Criteria
Because canine freestyle dance requires dogs to stand on their hind legs and jump, dogs younger than 14 months should wait until their bones and joints finish developing. Giant-breed dogs might require additional time. Good thing Athena’s an obedience class graduate, as she must have those skills before entering the freestyle world. She’s also a fast learner who’s quick on her feet.
Consider your dog’s body structure and general health. For example, a short-legged dog, or a pooch with hip or back problems, wouldn’t be a good freestyle dance candidate. Each dog’s vet can recommend other activities he’ll enjoy.
If you introduce your dog to freestyle dance, begin with short practice sessions that minimize muscle soreness risks. To determine if your dog should jump into this challenging sport, contact your veterinarian for expert advice.