Dog Dance

(alias Canine Freestyle, Heelwork to Music)

Like people, many dogs like music and get excited when they hear a rhythmic or passionate song.

Or do their owners’ joy delights them and their join in?

This question remains open to your interpretation.

man lying on the ground and border collie dog jumping through his legs at a dog show


Originally, the canine musical displays were obedience heelwork, spiced with spins, circles and weaves. Alternatively, some owners were dancing and their dogs were mostly passive observers in the routines. However, Sandra Davis and Caroline Scott, in the USA, then Donelda Guy, Mary Ray, and Dr Attila Szkukalek in the UK, revolutionised K9-freestyle. They did this by introducing popular “tricks” such as high ten, roll over, break dance, etc.

The major influence on developing the different styles in dog dance  was when alongside Sandra Davis’, Caroline Scott’s, Donelda Guy’s and Ray Underwood’s dance style routines Attila Szkukalek presented his most famous Chaplin and Gladiator routines. As other competitors, e.g. Thierry Thomas in France followed the trend then “Dog Dance” was split into 2 divisions: Heelwork to Music and Canine Freestyle (K9 Freestyle).

Heelwork to Music

On the one hand, HTM (heelwork to music) is restricted mostly to heelwork in different positions around the handler (left-, right-, in front-, etc.). During these routines, the dog either faces the same or the opposite direction as the handler. On the other hand, The K9 freestyle programmes have no restrictions and give plenty of opportunity for both the dog and handler to express themselves.

Why do people and dogs like “Dog Dance / Canine Freestyle / heelwork to Music”?

  • Unlike many other dog sports, it is open to any type (including crossbreeds) and size of dog and owner to enjoy.
  • It and incorporates different disciplines; obedience, agility, handling, musicality.
  • Anyone who likes music and moving to music can do this with his/her dog and it is easy to practice even at home.
  • Choreographing and practicing Dog Dance stimulates the owner’s and dog’s creativity and makes dog training enjoyable and fun for both the owner and the dog.
  • Since the artistic impression is judged, handlers teach their dog partners using positive reinforcement training and in consequence the dogs enjoy performing with their human partner.
  • It’s a real Man – Dog teamwork.
  • There divisions for Heelwork, Freestyle, juniors, adults and senior competitors as well as for group teams. Hence Dog Dance promotes team spirit, especially for junior competitors.
  • Finally as Patie Ventre, founder of WCFO, sees it: “Canine Freestyle is a showcase that truly demonstrates the joys and fun of bonding with your pet”.

I hope that you and your dog will enjoy practising Dog Dance.