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Dog Dancing: What is Canine Freestyle?

One of my all time favorite dog sports to watch is canine freestyle.

It combines all of my favorite things - music, trick training, and story telling.

To get a taste of how amazing it is, watch my all time favorite canine freestyle routine below:

Isn't that incredible?

The sportsmanship and level of training is just so high, and all of the handlers in this sport seem to have a blast performing.

So what exactly is musical freestyle?

Musical freestyle is a sport where anything safe goes.

It's essentially a combination of several tricks performed to music to tell a story.

The dog should be the focus of the routine, not the handler, but the handler plays an important role in the storyline and supports the dog through the routine.

Tricks and moves can be performed in any position, and any dog and handler can compete at any speed.

What is judged in the sport of musical freestyle?

In musical freestyle competitions, the handler and dog teams are judged on more creative requirements than usual dog sport judging (based on time, accuracy, etc).

The teams are judged on their content (amount and variety of moves, transitions between the two, etc), precision (how in sync the team is, how effective and quick the cues are followed, etc), flow of the routine, difficulty of the routine, and stepping in time to music. This comprises the technical merit  portion of the score as well as 50% of the total score.

The teams are also judged artistically on more subjective requirements. These are things like animation and attitude, coordination to music, spectator appeal, and costumes. This makes up the other 50% of the scores.

I can't dance... Should I even try freestyle?


The focus in musical freestyle is the dog, not the human.

While you need to be able to help your dog stay in time to the music, your dance skills are not judged. In fact, many of my favorite routines have not been "dancing" on the handlers part!

If you aren't a dancer per say, you can always opt for a more acting and story like performance like the one below!


This looks like so much fun. How can I get started?

Freestyle classes are actually pretty hard to come by! 

Locally, it is rare to have one, although you may be a lucky one with a club near you.

There are a few online options at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy and Karen Pryor Academy.

Or if you'd like to learn with us here at Delta Tails, stay tuned for our freestyle event beginning on the 18th of July, 2022! It will be so much fun and give you a small taste of the sport.


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