How to dance with your dog

How to Train Your Dog to Dance

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The Teaching 'Spin' MethodThe Teaching 'Spin' Method0 Votes

The Teaching 'Weave' MethodThe Teaching 'Weave' Method0 Votes

The Teaching 'Stand Up' MethodThe Teaching 'Stand Up' Method0 Votes


Dogs are awesome sources of companionship. They accompany their owners on walks, snuggle up during movie time, and are great at reminding you to get out of bed at the crack of dawn on lazy weekends. All things considered, it’s not difficult to see how dogs earned the moniker of man’s best friend.

Training your dog to perform tricks is another entertaining and enriching activity for both humans and canines. Teaching your dog tricks, in addition to those all-important foundational obedience behaviors, helps Fido become more attentive, relaxed, and is a great way to burn off a little excess energy when you can’t get out for a run. While we all know about the basics such as giving paw, playing dead, or fetching the paper, a lesser known and more challenging command for dedicated owners is teaching your dog how to dance. Intrigued? Grab your matching tutus and treat bag and read on!


Defining Tasks

Just as human dancing is made up of many different types of steps and styles, teaching your dog to dance will involve training a number of different commands. Doggie language isn’t exactly the same as humans so just telling Spot to “dance” probably isn’t going to get you very far. Instead you’ll be asking your pooch to move in various directions, over or around objects or otherwise perform specific skills that give the appearance of dancing. Advanced users can eventually link these individual commands together into complex routines of several actions. Yes, your dog really can learn that much!


Getting Started

Before you get started teaching your dog to dance, you’re going to want to stock up on your training treats, and plenty of them. It’s a good idea to put together a selection of tasty morsels of varying types and values. Having different types of treats on hand accomplishes a few different things. First, your dog won’t be at risk of getting bored by the same old reward item. A bored dog finds other items, people, or activities to pay attention to, which can interrupt training sessions. Having different treats with different values of yumminess also allows you to reward your dog with a “bonus” for especially good behavior. Consider small, bite-sized pieces of snacks your dog likes and grab a treat pouch to keep your hands free. You’ll need them when selecting and training one of our three methods for teaching your dog to dance.


The Teaching 'Spin' Method


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Lure Fido with a treat

Starting off in a low-distraction area such as your house or yard and show your dog that you have a treat in hand. Holding the treat in front of your dog’s nose, encourage him to follow your hand as you guide your dog to turn in a circle. At the end of the circle, release the treat and praise.

Raise it up

Repeat the guided spins numerous times over many training sessions. When your dog is used to moving in a circle, raise your hand up above his head. Continue to guide him, but try to wean them towards a motion, more than guiding them, by making the circles smaller and higher above him.

Remove the treat

After your dog is readily turning in a circle when you make a hand gesture, remove the treat. Continue making a circular motion with your hand, slowly making the circle smaller while still treating and praising only for your dog spinning around.

Add in a command

Once your dog is spinning reliably using a hand signal, it’s time to add in a command. Be careful which word you choose here. While “spin” is certainly good enough, you may want to use “right” or “left” or “spin right” or “spin left” instead, to help train directional spinning (see next step) later on. Say the command with your hand signal and repeat numerous times.

Remove the hand signal

After you’ve used the hand signal in combination with the verbal cue multiple times, start phasing out the hand signal. You want to thoroughly cement the behavior so be sure not to remove the hand signal too early. If your dog doesn’t perform on the cue alone, go back and repeat step 4 a few more times.

Now reverse direction

While turning in one direction is great, being multi-directional is even better for dancing. Once your dog has learned to spin either right or left, start back at step one and train the other direction. The second time through should progress much faster, but remember to move at your dog’s pace.

Switch it up

Once your dog has mastered spinning in both directions, try mixing it up. Tell your dog to spin multiple times or work in right, left, then right again. You and your pooch will be dancing in no time.

The Teaching 'Weave' Method


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Stepping over

Having a person or other animal stepping over their bodies doesn’t come naturally to most dogs. To get your dog to weave through your legs, start by taking small steps over and around him when he’s relaxed. Be sure to give plenty of treats and praise.

Luring through

When your pooch thinks having someone step over him is no big deal, start out teaching the weave. Stand with your legs wide enough apart to allow your dog to pass through. Take a treat in your hand and use it to lure him under your legs. Repeat this multiple times, slowly closing your legs so that there is just enough room for your pooch to pass through.

Add a hand gesture

After your dog has gotten the hang of being lured through, begin phasing out the lure. Use a hand gesture to indicate your dog should go under your legs. A pointed finger or swiping gesture often works here. Always treat and praise for a job well done.

Perform on cue

After you’ve cemented the hand gesture, start adding in a verbal cue. “Under”, “through”, or “legs” are good options here. Say the word at the same time as you make the hand gesture and repeat numerous times.

Practice and repeat

You should practice with your dog weaving between your legs in multiple settings and with an increasing level of distractions. Try changing it up by getting your dog to pass through at different angles or combining it with you stepping over Fido to make the behavior look more like a dance move.

The Teaching 'Stand Up' Method


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Bribing 'up'

While jumping up isn’t something you want to encourage in a dog, teaching your dog to stand up on command is actually useful and can help discourage him from jumping when not asked, a bonus for this fun dance move. Start out by encouraging your dog to place his paws on you or your arm or jump up in general. A tasty treat held over the head should do the trick here.

Encourage length

When your dog is jumping up with a treat lure, start encouraging him to stay standing for longer periods of time. Some pets may need your arm or body for support.

Adding hand gesture

Pick a hand gesture that will trigger this behavior in the future. A flat hand, palm up, raising from waist to mid chest is often good choice, but any clear gesture will do. Make the hand gesture as you lure your dog up with a treat.

Verbal cues

Once your dog is comfortable with the hand gesture and is jumping up on command, choose a cue such as “up” or “dance. ” Say the command along with the hand gesture, slowly phasing out the use of the treat as a lure. Be sure you’ve practiced with the gesture and bribing along numerous times so that your dog can make a solid connection.

Increase time

Increase the length of time between your dog jumping up, treating, and praising. This will help teach your dog that they should keep “performing” until you give the release command. Standing up, even with support, is taxing on muscles so help your dog train physically as well as mentally by working slowly and building up their strength.

Start to "dance"

After your dog is comfortable with being on their legs for some time, start moving slowly with them, encouraging them to step while they are standing. Take slow steps towards and away from them, supporting your dog when necessary. With a little practice, you and your pooch will be doing the cha cha before you know it.

By Amy Caldwell

Published: 11/14/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

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Teaching Your Dog to Dance · The Wildest

If your pet’s got moves, canine freestyle is the dog sport you didn’t know you needed.

by Julia Lane, CPDT-KA

June 13, 2022

Guille Faingold / Stocksy

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During his stint as Dwight Schrute on The Office, Rainn Wilson charmed as the lovable tryhard aloof to his own goofiness. Following nine seasons as the character and a seemingly endless stream of memeable lines, he’s now helping other adorable doofuses shine in the form of dog dancing. Yep, it’s a thing — and thanks to Wilson’s We Are the Champions, it’s quickly growing in popularity. The Netflix series documents niche sports — including competitive dog dancing.

“This is like a real-life ‘Best in Show’ where the stakes are as high as you could possibly imagine,” Rainn Wilson said in an interview with Variety. “When you watch them compete, you’re like, ‘This is ridiculous,’ but then you go, ‘This is beautiful.’”

While you might still be figuring out how to get your dog’s attention, these enthusiastic pet parents have their pups grooving to “Tones and I’s Dance Monkey” with elaborate dance routines. Dog dancing, also known as canine freestyle, is choreographed trick training set to music. You’ll recognize some traditional obedience moves, such as heel position, but the overall goal is to get creative and put your dog’s best paw forward. Fans of the sport love the freedom of choosing their own music, designing a routine based on their dog’s strengths, and using verbal encouragement during a performance.

How Did “Dog Dancing” Begin?

Joan Tennille, president and co-founder of the Canine Freestyle Federation (CFF) claims that she defined canine freestyle as a competitive sport rather than just entertainment. In 1993, four dog trainers approached Tennille — at the time, a professional dancer-choreographer — to help them create what would be the first canine freestyle demo. They wanted to showcase their dogs’ advanced obedience training by setting it to music while treating both humans and dogs as equal partners. They showed her a video of a demonstration by a now-defunct Canadian organization.

“There was a woman in high heels and stockings doing ballet with a Golden Retriever,” says Tennille. “There were so many sequins and ruffles, you couldn’t even see the dog, and all the dog did was sit. Another woman had a well-trained Border Collie, but she had heavy sequins and balloons, so again, you couldn’t see the dog. I call that entertainment. That’s not what they wanted.”

Aside from the challenge of giving the dog equal stage presence, Tennille had to think about movement and flow. Four-footed dogs move very differently from two-footed people. Plus, a Border Collie is going to be more agile and light on their feet than a Bloodhound. The demo proved successful, and Canine Freestyle Federation was born two years later. It remains the oldest active canine freestyle organization and is best known for what Tennille calls “performance attitude.”

In 1999, the World Canine Freestyle Organization (WCFO) made its debut and began offering worldwide competitions the following year. The Musical Dog Sport Association (MDSA) was then founded in 2002. Its website is a treasure trove for beginners, featuring resources such as a comprehensive (and ever-evolving) list of dog dancing moves and advice on how to find a good canine freestyle trainer. MDSA also recognizes freestyle teams that perform at hospitals, schools, and nursing homes through its Spirit of Sharing program. Since freestyle classes are not available in some areas, MDSA’s Circle of Friends program is a great way for members to meet and train with freestylers in their area.

Canine Freestyle Competitions and Routines

Each organization promotes its own style and hallmarks of competition. As you progress from one level to another, you’re required to perform longer, more challenging routines. Unlike dogs in many other sports, freestyle dogs must focus on their partner for a minimum of 90 seconds and up to three minutes at the most advanced levels. The key is a strong bond and positive training using motivational methods — you really can’t make a dog do freestyle; it’s all about the relationship.

Although most of the top competition dogs are Border Collies and Golden Retrievers, all breeds and mixes are welcome to participate, no matter the organization. Karen Lewis of New Mexico competes in WCFO and MDFA with her six-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bryce, who also competes in agility.

“The bond is even more important in freestyle,” says Lewis. “In agility, you pretty much do those obstacles the same way. In freestyle, you’re always doing new moves. The dog has to pay attention to you constantly to get the cues, either verbal or physical. Since you’re supposed to keep up, you’re constantly thinking, What am I doing now? When am I going to say it? It’s amazing what can go on during a one-and-a-half-minute routine.

Whether you are ready to boost your dog training to the next level, want to build that bond with your pup, or just want to peep at some mesmerizing outfits and top-notch dog training, “dog dancing” might just be what you’re looking for.

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  • dog
  • dog lifestyle
  • dog training

Julia Lane, CPDT-KA

Julia Lane owns Spot On K9 Sports, a training facility in the Chicago area, and offers online dog-sport coaching. She is the author of several travel books, and her byline has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets & Writers and elsewhere.

Dancing with dogs: freestyle with a four-legged partner

Do you like to dance, but don't have a partner? teach your dog to dance. Mastering spectacular freestyle is much easier than you think!

Whether you are an experienced dog breeder or just dreaming of a four-legged pet, freestyle canine can become a fashionable hobby and lifelong love. Dancing with dogs is available to everyone, they can be done for fun or for competition. This kind of sport is akin to art, when an unusual dancing pair of people and dogs open up new horizons together, performing various elements to the music and moving synchronously or independently of each other. The main thing is that the dance should look spectacular and harmonious and cheer up.

  1. How and when dances with dogs appeared
  2. Who dances with dogs and why
  3. Getting started dancing: a step-by-step guide to action

How and when dances with dogs appeared

Freestyle cannot boast, just like canicross centuries of history and world records. At the origins of the movement is a famous cynologist from the UK. In 1990, at a workshop dedicated to the peculiarities of training to music, Mary Rae performed for the first time with amazing staged dances in tandem with her border collie. It was then that freestyle dancing with dogs was singled out as an independent sports direction.

Who dances with dogs and why

If you are active, adventurous and love dogs, then Dog Dancing is your sport. There is no need to be afraid of the apparent complexity of learning. All you need to start dancing is desire, patience and half an hour of free time every day. Classes do not require special skills and outstanding choreographic abilities. Dancing has long been recognized as the best cure for stress. And if you remember that your partner will be a devoted tailed friend, the joy and benefits of such training can hardly be underestimated.

Freestyle combines physical activity with the creative process, when you discover new talents and opportunities in yourself and your pet. An important advantage is the absolute democracy of the direction. It is available for all breeds of dogs, starting from six months. Talented mutts and mestizos perform on an equal footing with representatives of elite breeds and show excellent results.

Children like dancing with a dog very much

Even a child over 12 years old can become a handler (guide) on a freestyle area. And you will play the role of a sensitive coach and director for a young dance couple. This allows not only strengthening family ties, finding a common language with children, but also developing in them such important qualities as responsibility, love and respect for all living things. And the pleasure that dogs get is generally indescribable, because for them the presence of a favorite thing is as important as for people.

Another advantage of modern freestyle is the possibility of distance participation in competitions, which is not available in other cynological sports. It is enough to prepare the number, shoot it as a single video clip and send it to the organizers via the Internet. And who knows, maybe your duo will get the next prize cup?

Getting Started: A Step-by-Step Guide to Action

Step One: Selecting the Elements

Before starting freestyle training, your dog must learn the basics of obedience and feel comfortable in an urban environment: not reacting to loud noises and crowds of people. There are no restrictions in the choice of dance elements, the only important requirement is that they must exclude the risk of injury for four-legged athletes and take into account individual characteristics.

For example, the high jumps that are natural for Jack Russells can be dangerous for massive Rottweilers. Conversely, such a simple element as the Spanish step (high raising of the front paws during the passage) looks unusually impressive in dogs of large breeds, reminiscent of horse dressage.

First rehearsals

Second step: obligatory program

Performances at competitions so far are held only in two classes: debut and premium. The compulsory program includes only six universal commands, having mastered which you can already put on your first dance. The simplest are bowing, moving side by side to the left and right of the conductor. It is a little more difficult to learn walking backwards at or in front of the handler's foot, slalom (a figure eight pass between the handler's legs) and circles (the fluffy dancer spins around its axis).

If you are not completely confident in your own abilities, at first you can turn to a cynologist or more experienced dog breeders for help. They will tell you the best way to motivate the dog and explain the technical aspects of training. Often, pets themselves suggest observant owners ideas for unique dance steps. And all that is needed is to praise the tailed inventor in time and consolidate the result. The main thing here is not to overdo it and not turn an exciting game into coercion and routine duty.

Step three: choosing music

Beginners often make the same mistake in choosing music. After all, you really want to enter the ring under incendiary melodies. But it is difficult for a beginner duet to keep the necessary pace throughout the performance, because the dance lasts from 1 to 3.5 minutes and is full of elements. Therefore, it is better to opt for a composition whose rhythm suits your pet. You should like the music and not get tired of it during numerous listenings, the optimal duration of the composition is no more than 120 seconds.

Step Four: Dance Scheme

Once the tune has been chosen and you've learned a lot, it's time to start staging. Try to dance alone, the music itself will tell you the best decision, where to make a turn, and where to just walk in accordance with the rhythm. Your movements should not be too complex, as in ballroom dancing, the main goal is to create a composition in which the dancing dog will look the most organic.

Step five: costume performance

Having worked out the program to the smallest detail, it's time to think about the costume. It should correspond to the chosen musical direction, be comfortable and not hinder movement. In fact, the simpler the outfit, the better for the number. Sometimes it’s enough just to pick up a couple of successful accessories to create a complete look. So, a cowboy hat and fringed boots are suitable for a country-style dance, and a Russian round dance will perfectly complement a paper kokoshnik or a bright scarf. It is not necessary to dress up the dog. But, if you really want to, you can add a collar with a bow tie or pin a bright flower.

Dancer in costume

Now it remains to demonstrate the dance with the dog to friends and relatives in order to cope with the first embarrassment and correct possible shortcomings. A few more rehearsals and your extraordinary couple will be ready to conquer the sports rings and get a well-deserved standing ovation.

Believe me, this show will delight you more than belly dance, the secrets of which we told in another publication.

Canine freestyle, or how to teach a dog to dance?


Dancing with a dog is the pinnacle of training art. Take the dog's favorite treat in your hand, lift it above the pet and make sure that the dog maintains balance while standing on its hind legs. The next time you gradually enter the “dance” command immediately after you see the dog’s intention to stand on its hind legs.

A bit of history

As a sport discipline it (canine freestyle) was formed in the late 80s of the last century in the UK, USA, Canada and the Netherlands. According to one version, it is believed that freestyle owes its appearance to the spread of a positive approach to training based on the motivation of the dog. Listening to music together was a popular pet bonding exercise at the time. In kennel clubs during demonstration competitions, she often began to be placed in the background to form a more relaxed atmosphere. Gradually dog ​​breeders began to notice that some of the exercises were more readily performed by dogs to music, and began to experiment with the selection of compositions and animal training.

Exercise variations

• While performing the Waltz trick, take a couple of steps. Move back first because it's easier for the dog.

• Try teaching your dog to dance on a chair.

• Turn around while the dog is leaning against you in the Waltz position. At the same time, the dog must be able to maintain balance, because he will constantly have to rest against you again or turn around with you in small steps.

• Have your dog waltz behind your back. This trick corresponds to the Polonaise exercise.

• When performing the "Dance" trick, try to get your pet to take a few steps on its hind legs.

• Teach your dog to move in circles using a combination of the Dance and Spin tricks.

• You can also teach your dog to jump to the music while dancing. To do this, give the Up command and hold the treat just above the dog's nose (this exercise is only suitable for dogs with a small body weight).

• Put the dog on the cart and tell him to dance on it. Then begin to slowly move the cart with the dog dancing on it. Do this very carefully so that your pet feels safe.

If you are interested in this discipline, you can familiarize yourself with the professional literature of O. Afanasyev "How to teach a dog to dance, or Sports training of dogs."

Tags: Dogs and Sports,Overview, Dog Breeding, Dogs and Sports

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