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More Articles

Where Obedience Leaves Off and Freestyle Starts
A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose
The Freestyle Challenge
Getting Started With Freestyle
Definition of Freestyle and Structure of a Freestyle Performance
More Than Just Heeling
Creative Development of Movement
Music, Rhythm and Freestyle
Understanding Required Moves
Do I Have to Dance?
Freestyle - A Point of View
Training: a New Mindset
My Introduction to Training a Freestyle Dog
It Takes Three - The Audience
Choreography: How to Begin
40x50 Feet: The Empty Canvas
Rhythm: The Great Organizer
What is a Guild

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No, emphatically no! But, yes, you may. The CFF Definition of Freestyle is clear: "All handler movements should complement and enhance the dog." If you do the jitterbug or an Irish jig your audience will certainly see you, but your dog has a far more limited range of movement than a human being. All dogs do. Your dog cannot do the jitterbug or an Irish jig and his movement will be overshadowed by the complexity of yours. If you want to dance yourself you may, but please remember you have a partner, your dog. Freestyle is a canine sport and a performance sport and teamwork is essential. Your dog does not have the range of expression through movement to enhance you but you have a wide range of options in enhancing your dog. Direct the focus to your dog through teamwork and artistry and your relationship with your dog will be palpable.

Dance, as most everyone interprets the word, means performing a pattern of steps like a jitterbug or a jig, frequently with upper body, arm and hand motion to further interpret the music and your mood. Most people are more than comfortable dancing in a social setting - it is fun, friendly and companionable. Now ask yourself and your friends if you are willing to do the same alone in front of an audience. If you are like me your answer is an emphatic "NO!" Those with a theatrical bent, who desire and seek out audiences, seem to be a minority among us. And so, based on the belief that Freestyle requires dancing in front of an audience, many people have turned their backs and said, "Not for me!"

I have been doing Freestyle for more than four years now and in front of a wide range of audiences, but would never have taken even the first step if I were required to dance. What I do is share my dog’s movement, beauty, athleticism and training as interpreted through choreography with music. I share my relationship with my dog. Fancy footwork on my part would distract from my dog who is the reason I am out there in the first place. When I focus on showing my dog off at his/her very best my mental focus is on my dog and our working together and never on me alone. That is what enables me to step out in front of an audience and perform.

We are all fortunate that this vision of Freestyle has been embodied in the Canine Freestyle Federation, by it’s founders and its Board of Directors. Three years of careful, deliberate development and definition have produced a new sport which we can enjoy and participate in comfortably. If this now sounds more like a sport which appeals to you I urge you to give CFF Freestyle a try.

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