We started working on Canine Freestyle and Dance a year ago. It has been a fun journey. Harley and I worked through some of the beginning stages without realizing we were setting up the groundwork for dance.
When I started to think about training formally I watched all the videos that were out there. I watched other performers. The first thing I thought was, “I can’t do that.” I tried, and the first weeks were miserable. Harley went from being super animated, to ‘dull.’ Nothing seemed to work.
Then I realized that ‘we are not them.’ Canine freestyle is about the team. I suddenly realized, “If the judges are not going to put restrictions and limits on me and Harley then why am I?” This released us. It also changed our training.
I started to watch for things Harley did naturally and utilized them. Yes, I am still frustrated that we don’t have an amazing back up, but we have two moves that I haven’t seen other trainers do.
The second change we made was to let the music go, for now. Training now is all about having fun and rewarding. You can see Harley’s eyes glow when I click. She stops ‘What did I do.’ For the next couple of minutes she is trying to figure it out. Things change. Sometimes I get a better move. Sometimes I never get that ‘one’ move. I’ve learned to accept what she gives me.
Canine freestyle isn’t about having that signature move. It is about celebrating what the dog wants to give to you. It is about enjoying the dog you own, not comparing it to another dog.
We hope to be ready for the Fire Muster and Pawlooza this year. We are working on a Dressage routine, and a Dance routine. Rose and I are working on a Heeling to Music Routine. I hope that as the girls mature I can bring both dogs together.
One thing the seminars don’t teach you is that if you want to do the cool moves then you need to work on core training for your dog. These are simple little exercises. Our classes will start with 5 minutes of core exercises. We will also do some stretches, and end with a rub down. You don’t want your dog getting stiff and sore.
Classes are starting the last week of May. We hope to have them outside in the fields, and are looking forward to sharing some fun summer evenings with new friends, and new dogs.