So what is Canine Freestyle?

This Canine Sport combines advanced obedience, agility and fun tricks. And it may just be the right thing for you as it’s fun, funny and both you and your dog will absolutely love it.

It all started almost simultaneously in England, Canada, the U.S.A. and the Netherlands within about three years from each other by different people that just wanted to take dog training and obedience to the next level, while performing it to music. It is thought that it took inspiration from an equine sport called Musical Kur. All of this resulted in which is now known as Musical Canine Freestyle.

The very first official musical freestyle group, Musical Canine Sports International, was founded in British Columbia, Canada, in 1991. Afterwards other groups followed their lead in the United States and England, catapulting the sport as we know it today.

But it is important to mention that there are two different techniques to this Sport.

Teaching a dog to be able to work on both sides of the handler's body, not just the left side as in normal obedience heeling, is the first step to freestyle. The trainer first breaks the routine into pieces with only two or three moves linked together, and as they progress all these pieces are then linked with each other.

There are two types of musical canine freestyle, freestyle heeling (also known as heelwork to music) and musical freestyle.

Freestyle Heeling

Freestyle heeling focuses on a dog's ability to stay in variations of the heel position while the handler moves to music. In heelwork to music, the dog and trainer remain close to each other at all times. Sending the dog away or doing distance work is not part of the routine, with the dog remaining almost invisibly tethered to the trainer. Pivots, moving diagonally, backwards, forwards to a suitable musical theme are important to the routine. Jumping, weaving, rolling, passing through the trainer's legs and anything else considered "not heeling" is not allowed.

Musical freestyle

Musical freestyle demands that the dog perform a variety of tricks and other obedience talents. In musical freestyle, heel work 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 jumping, spinning, bowing, rolling over. Dancing in place, and other innovative actions where the dog plays off the dance moves of the trainer are encouraged. A popular finishing trick for some routines is for the dog to jump into the trainer's arms, or over his or back.

In the UK the sport is recognized by the Kennel Club and also takes over the Main Arena at Crufts every year.

Is it for you?

This sport asks for a high level of obedience and focus on the owner,

making it a long term choice for those who like to keep their dogs busy.

Canine freestyle is a musical performance choreographed

to display the dog and handlers talent, teamwork and creativity.

It is built not just on training but also on the joy and the bond the team shares.

This sport is not only "fun" for the dog, but it will also channel itself onto you.

Your routine, if executed properly, will induce that same "fun" into anyone watching your show.

Because Canine Freestyle taps into the handlers imagination,

it opens the door to discovery and freedom for both the dog and the handler.

This will allow you to express and develop new skills.

The foundation of the performance lays in traditional obedience exercises,

used in combination with the dogs natural behaviours and movement.

Along with inventive moves that captivate audiences

and give the illusion of a real dance.

When you and the dog steps along the beat,

it will showcase an attitude that compliments the music selected,

in which case the tune should also match your team's "movement, style and personality".

The team present themselves as partners but you know your dog is always the STAR.

K9 Freestyle is enjoyed by dogs of all ages and breeds,

as long as the dog is willing to work with you, and has basic obedience training.

Canine freestyle is guaranteed to make your dog's tail wag,

and give you a new sense of freedom and fun unlike any other dog sport. 

To see examples of choreographies, take a look at our videos section.

To learn to do it yourself, take a look at our Shop for Rhythmic Paws.

Attila Szkukalek