Foot-tapping music, a couple with perfect chemistry on the dance floor, dancing to the tune, two feet and four paws… surprised, no don’t be, we mean it. Share the dance floor with your canine and let the music play.
What do you expect when you combine music, choreogra-phy, teamwork, artistry, constuming, style and obedience training for your pooch? Well, you get a flawless dancing partner! More and more dog owners are now opting for Musical Freestyle (or Heelwork-to-Music or dog dancing). This is a choreographed musical programme performed by handlers and their dogs. It is an excellent way to showcase the perfect harmony of the dog and her handler. It is enjoyable for all – the viewers as well as both the dog and the handler.
Teaching dogs to dance is akin to teaching humans, wherein you choose your music, set your choreography and train the dog one step at a time in order for them to understand the sequence. All you need is to train them accordingly.
Here are a few dancing steps that any dog irrespective of age or breed could learn :
- Spin : To train, hold a tasty treat in your hand and make a circular movement from her nose to the tail, luring her to move in the direction of the treat and spinning in place as opposed to walking in a circle, reward her within 2 seconds after having completed the spin.
- Round : This is when the dog takes a circle around you while you are standing. To train, again hold a treat in both your hands. Stand with your feet together with the dog in front of you. Lure her to move around you from the front to the back with your right hand. While moving in that direction, quickly lure her to move from the back to the front with the treat in your left hand, making sure that she has noticed the treat in your left hand. Quickly move the other hand away. Reward her as soon as she finishes a circle around you.
- Jump through hoop : Place a hula-hoop vertically in front of your dog with you standing besides the hoop. With a treat in the other hand, lure her to walk through the hoop onto the other side. Repeat this till she gets the idea of walking through the hoop to get the treat. Once she has learnt this, raise the hoop couple of inches off the floor to make her perform a small jump through the hoop. Safety tip: Only raise the hoop to a level that your dog is comfortable jumping through, which of course will depend on her breed and size.
- Kiss : You can end your lovely dance with your pooch giving you a heart felt lick on your face. Smudge some cheese on your cheek, place your index finger on the same cheek, which will eventually become your hand signal for her to come and lick your cheek. After practicing this when your dog starts responding to your hand signal, you can reward her with a treat.
Tips to follow
- During training, make sure you and your pooch are under no stress whatsoever (physical injury or environmental conditions like loud noises).
- Canines enjoy a good sense of humour and need 100% attention from you, hence if you are anything short of that, you should avoid training.
- Be consistent with your hand signals. For example, if you point your index finger with the treat in your hand while teaching her the step, she will quickly associate it to the step.
So what are you waiting for? Play your favourite dance number, call your beloved pooch and wriggle with the music. Practice and patience would make you a perfect dancing couple!
(Seema Jhaveri is a professional dancer, proficient in jazz, contemporary and bollywood style of dancing. She is also a dog trainer and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
– by Seema Jhaveri
Chicca floors all with her dance moves
Hi! I am Chicca, a Border Collie and I love to dance. I had a chance to show off my dancing skills in Switzerland and I really danced my way to glory. You will be surprised to know that I have learnt 22 different cues. I was dancing for the first time and was really excited. We stayed at a hotel in Winterthur, Switzerland and once we had a sniff round, we went off to inspect the venue for the competition on the weekend. It was quite big, and lots of people were there already. By next morning, things got really exciting with my parent getting really edgy. However I just sat quietly on my bench and watched all the fun.
People were putting on all sorts of odd clothes and all the dogs were barking and getting really excited. After a while, my parent, who was all dressed up in flashy clothes, took me out and we went to the ring. We had to bow to the judges and the spectators, and then the music started. It was our music, so I swung into action with my best moves. My parent had some trouble keeping up with me as I twisted and weaved. But believe me, I was HOT on the dance floor!!!
In fact I was so good they gave me a prize and asked me to dance again. It was a wonderful feeling and I basked in it. But I did feel rather shy when they asked me to stand on the podium to have my photo clicked. I was so overcome that my parent had to carry me. Mind you she seemed quite flushed herself with joy, I could tell!!!
We stayed there for two days and wow, the second day was even better and I got to stand on the podium again! They all said I was a star, but I already knew that!
(Belgium based Dawn Hill’s chance encounter with Dog Dancing changed her life and today, it’s her passion. She feels the sport appeals to many and for her has the added benefit of promoting dog-friendly training methods.)
– by Dawn Hill
Sera : a born dancer
My first training experience with dog dancing was with Sera, a Labrador, who had a natural flair for dancing. For Sera to be an adept dancer, it took me just two weeks. Once during our costume rehearsal, when Sera put on her pink tutu for the first time, instead of concentrating on her dance, she kept spinning round and round trying to get the tutu off. When she managed to do so, she broke out into a dance of her known, making me realize she was a born dancer and her dance was way cuter than anything I could ever choreograph.
– by Seema Jhaveri