Sport and Canine Activities

An Introduction to Canine Freestyle

An Introduction to Canine Freestyle

Do you enjoy working with your dog in a fun way? Moving together rhythmically? Well, there is a dog sport out there that you and your best friend might enjoy. It’s called Canine Freestyle. Unlike some canine sports, such as conformation showing, any dog purebred or not can participate in canine freestyle. As a bonus, only positive training methods are used in canine freestyle.

Similar to canine freestyle is heelwork to music. Heelwork to music is generally less involved and focuses on dog and handler moving closely together. With canine freestyle, on the other hand, dog and handler don’t always stay close together.

What Is Canine Freestyle?

At it’s most basic form canine freestyle is a sport in which you and your dog dance together to music. Some of the routines that you see will be more like a skit than just dancing, with the dog and human acting out scenes to music. Some routines are extremely elaborate with costumes and props.

Watching a canine freestyle event is super fun. The dogs and handlers working together as one. Showing off their long days of training, technical skill, artistic interpretation, and their immense bond. Seeing a really good pair of competitors can take your breath away.

Dancing With Dogs History

Canine freestyle originated back in the 1980s. It’s unclear who was the true inventor of the sport, as several people in Canada and Europe claim to be the originators of the sport. However, the idea of dancing with dogs is ancient, even being depicted in art from a pre-Columbian Aztec tomb.

Things To Consider

There are a few things that you will have to think about in order to create a canine freestyle routine. You will need to choose music, then choreograph a routine to go with the music. You will then need to work on training your dog to do the routine. Working on each skill needed without and with the music you choose. Then do lots of practice. Be sure to practice with distractions if you intend to compete.

One of the fun things about canine freestyle is you are only limited by your imagination. Any trick or command that you train your dog to do can be used in canine freestyle. Even if your dog is trained for other competitions you can use those skills to build a canine freestyle routine on.


While not all dogs can walk on their hind legs or leap off your back, any dog, at any age or physical ability can participate in canine freestyle. Just like any human can dance, so too, any dog can dance. You just have to find the moves and music that work for you and your dog. Choose dance moves that your dog enjoys and can do well. Never try to get your dog to do moves that seem to cause him pain or that he is uncomfortable with.

Freestyle Competition

There are several different organizations out there that put together canine freestyle competitions. Some options include the World Canine Freestyle Organization and the Canine Freestyle Federation. Each of these organizations will have a slightly different point system. However, most points will revolve around technical skill involved, artistic interpretation, difficulty, and overall appeal. You can earn titles as you go too.


If you are interested in learning more about canine freestyle there are lots of resources online. From YouTube videos to the official pages of canine freestyle organizations. Your local training center may even offer canine freestyle training classes! If you are interested in enjoying artistic expression with your dog, why not give canine freestyle a try?