Have you ever thought about how great it would be to have your dog prancing proudly down the aisle at your wedding? After all, the ceremony is supposed to be a gathering of friends and family. Shouldn’t your four-legged pals be there too?
Of course they can, although there are some considerations and practicalities to consider before you start fitting your dog for his tux. Once you have those sorted out, you can determine the best role your pet can have in your nuptials.
Is Your Dog Ceremony Ready?
What you should really consider before getting too excited about the idea of including your pet is if your dog is up to the task of being in your wedding. Is your dog calm around strangers? Will he tolerate wearing any extra adornments for the occasion? Carefully consider whether your dog would really prefer to be relaxing at home instead of at your wedding.
You can check my “Should You Bring a Non-Service Dog to a Wedding?” post for a full list of considerations before deciding to let your pooch participate on your wedding day. It covers everything from potential problems for guests to whether the venue even allows pets. Just remember that you will need someone your dog is comfortable with to be their “handler” during the ceremony. You will be a little busy getting hitched.
Now that the internet is firmly entrenched in my life, the saying, “You learn something new every day” seems true for me. I am amazed at the things I discover by wasting time on Facebook and other sites. One of those recent discoveries was that there is such a thing as “dancing with the dogs,” aka Musical Canine Freestyle competitions. Not only that, they are very popular with dogs, pet owners and audiences alike. Who knew? I mean, I’ve watched dancing dogs perform on television shows like Pet Star and America’s Got Talent, but I had no idea this fast growing dog sport was so prevalent in America, Canada, Japan and many other countries. I spent more time than I care to admit watching dancing canines and their “handlers” strut their stuff on Youtube, and I have to say it really looks like fun. I love my kitties dearly, but now I really wish I had a dog!
What Is Musical Canine Freestyle?
Put simply, Musical Canine Freestyle (or just Canine Freestyle) is choreographed dancing with dogs to music. The objective is to bond with your dog while teaching them to perform a routine that’s enjoyable for all concerned. Wikipedia defines Canine Freestyle as “a modern dog sport that is a mixture of obedience, tricks and dance which allows for creative interaction between dogs and their owners.” According to the Musical Dog Sport Association, “training, teamwork, music and movement combine to create an artistic, choreographed performance that celebrates the unique qualities of each individual dog.”
The Canine Freestyle Federation says the sport is “an excellent discipline 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.” And finally, the World Canine Freestyle Organization (WCFO) says that the goal of this sport is to “display the dog and handler in a creative, innovative and original dance, using music and intricate movements to showcase teamwork, artistry, costuming, athleticism and style.”
Freestyle doggie dance got its start in the late 80s as “heel work to music,” which used traditional heeling exercises set to music and added some variations to make it more interesting and challenging. Musical Canine Freestyle takes the concept even further by adding moves that do not maintain the traditional heel position. Several different people claim to have invented this fun new dog sport, including obedience trainers, dressage trainers, choreographers and show biz entertainers.
Canine Freestyle Competitions and Clubs
Musical Canine Freestyle events and competitions take place all over the world. Currently, there are several organizations in the United States that regulate competitive canine freestyle events, including the aforementioned WCFO, Canine Freestyle Federation and Musical Dog Sport Association. Canada and Japan also have Canine Freestyle organizations that sanction competitions.
Competition rules vary from group to group, but are usually based on a variety of technical and artistic merit points. The routines are done without training aids or leashes, except for some beginner categories. Competitions typically involve just one dog and their handler, but sometimes can involve teams of two, three or more dogs.
In addition to organizations that sanction Canine Freestyle events, there are a multitude of canine dance clubs around the world. These friendly groups welcome handlers and dogs of all ages and levels of experience. Their purpose is to develop and promote the sport through workshops, demonstrations, fun matches, discussion groups, fundraisers and sanctioned canine freestyle events.
Teaching Your Dog to Dance
The first thing you need to do is choose the music you would like to dance to. You can use just one song or edit several together to create your own unique composition. The second step is to choreograph a routine to your music. You will need to design steps and movements for both yourself and your dog that relate to your music. This might be basic obedience steps or variations of them, dressage movements, tricks, and any new and/or unusual moves you can dream up. The third step is selecting costumes for you and your doggie dance partner that coordinate with the theme of your music. If you want to enter a competition, there is a fourth step to the process. You need to make sure your routine follows the rules and guidelines set forth by the musical canine freestyle organization for the event.
The great thing about Canine Freestyle competitions is that any breed of dog can do it, from itty-bitty Chihuahuas to medium-sized Shelties, to Labs, Golden Retrievers and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Even if you think your dog has “two left feet,” you can both still have fun with freestyle dance, because the most important thing is spending quality time together. Dance on!
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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.