Dogs who participate in freestyle competition are exceptional all-around athletes. They are more optimally conditioned and have greater flexibility than dogs participating in other performance events. So, get out there and dance!
Canine Freestyle is a dance performed by a dog and his handler moving in a coordinated pattern to music. According to the Canine Freestyle Federation, training for canine freestyle requires respect, teamwork, creativity, and artistry. ”It provides an excellent medium to illustrate the conformation and movement of the dog. The reach, drive and beauty of an athletic, trained dog moving to music can take one’s breath away.”
Training for canine freestyle requires a variety of movements: heel work, turns, pivots, front work, lateral work, distance work, pace changes, and variations in movements, including circles, serpentines, and spirals. When these moves are combined with music, they are among the most beautiful canine performances one can witness.
In addition to the physical or exercise benefits of canine freestyle, there is evidence that sound itself (music) has healing properties (see Music Therapy for Pets). Music can facilitate shifts in brain waves by using entrainment. It creates order out of chaos. As an example, while those who enter a concert arena have scattered brain patterns, they will likely leave the performance with synchronous patterns. Some music can excite, while other types of music can calm. Music can be selected to down-shift normal waking brain waves (beta state) to induce a relaxed consciousness (alpha state) or even a meditative state (theta waves). It is in the later ranges that healing occurs. So, watching canine freestyle could be healing for the audience as well as the handler and dog!
In the experience of veterinarian Sue Ann Lesser, DVM, ACAC, CVSMT, freestyle dogs performing at the highest level (Level IV), are among the most superb athletes in her 6-state canine chiropractic sports medicine practice. Dr. Lesser posits that certain aspects of freestyle training may be beneficial to canines with neurological disorders.
View this YouTube video, Boogie Shoes Canine Freestyle Routine, from Super Collies to see a canine freestyle routine.