Spectacular, impressive or extremely difficult? What exactly is dog dancing and what does it consist of? Can everybody dance with a dog? What does your dog need to know to start training? Below I present a sport that has been on my mind for a long time.
THE BEGINNINGS OF DANCING WITH DOGS
The first person who performed dancing with a dog was Mary Ray from England in 1990, during Crufts (the annual international dog show in Great Britain). However, some sources claim that the sport had its beginnings as early as the 1980s.
Mary’s show was so spectacular that she appeared in the show ring every year from 1992 until 2018. Since her first show in 1990 more and more people, started to become interested in this type of dog work and performance.
For several years, competitions called „Heelwork to Music” or „Freestyle HTM” have been organised during Crufts.
DOG DANCING – WHAT IS IT?
In short, it is dancing with a dog. However, this is a very inaccurate term.
However, when we read the phrase „dog obedience to music”, we begin to understand that it is not at all about teaching steps to waltz or chess. It is more a bit of sport obedience, tricks, our imagination, music and fun.
The FCI (International Kennel Federation, to which the Polish Kennel Club, ZKwP for short, belongs) officially introduced Dog Dancing as a sport in 2017.
However, it is worth mentioning here, the existence of the international association Dog dance International e. V. (DDI). The association has been active since 2009, has issued competition regulations and organises Dog Dancing competitions in Europe. DDI is not a member of the FCI or any other association of dog breeders.
Heelwork to Music – According to the Kennel Club definition, 75% of the show is dog obedience elements and 25% freestyle. The dog may not work further than 2 metres from the human, with 50 cm from the handler being considered an FS element. Most points are awarded to the pair that works at a distance of 15 cm from each other. This competition is very popular on the islands.
The DDI describes that the dog should „work” in one of the 18 described heelwork positions in 75% of the choreography. The dog always remains in the same position as the handler, watching him or moving in any direction. The aim of the HTM presentation is for the dog to work close to the handler. The distance between the dog and the handler should be as short as possible. Physical contact between dog and handler in heelwork position is not required.
Freestyle – the most popular and spectacular competition. FCI rules state that there should be a minimum of 75% freestyle and a maximum of 25% obedience. There is no limit to how far the dog can be from us.
DDI, on the other hand, describes this competition as full of free figures, tricks, as well as heelwork positions.
WHO IS THIS SPORT FOR?
The answer to this question is very simple – for everyone. There are no limits here. It does not matter if your dog is a purebred or a mongrel if it is fast or slow if it is big or small. DDI in its regulations provides for the start of every dog.
You choose the tricks and tasks according to the predispositions of your dog. Your dog feels better working close to you? No problem! Just remember to adjust the difficulty to the level of the dog you are training with. You choose the music according to your pace of work. Some dogs are fast as lightning on a stormy day. And some dogs fit perfectly to the rhythm of „Singing in the rain”.
When choosing tricks, it is important to remember that they must not endanger the life and health of your dog. You should also not force your dog to do something it does not want to do or is afraid to do.
Dog Dancing is a fascinating sport where the only limitation is our imagination. There are no rigid rules, everything depends on our use of dog skills and predispositions.
Do you like watching dogs dancing with people? Do you like this sport? Have you ever tried your hand at this dog sport? Are there any classes for dancing with dogs in your area? Or do you think that it is a whim and dog dancing should not be included in dog sports?