Dancing with Dogs (and kids)!
Recently my daughter has been obsessed with this song ‘Libre Soy‘ (the Spanish counterpart to ‘Let It Go’). If you have a daughter you know this song because it’s been on autoplay in your home for the last 2 years. It’s admittedly catchy, emotion invoking, and also comes in various renditions of My Little Pony. It’s also amazing the level of mastery an almost 3 year old can have of basic dance moves. Inspiring, really!
Thus it prompted the dusting off of this gem, ‘Dancing with Dogs.’ Purchased from Half Price Books years ago as a fledgling dog trainer, long ago it planted the seed for visions of a Professional Pack of Performing Pit Bulls. Plus, any time child rearing and dog training can safely combined to facilitate the super use of time and space, just do it.
Dancing and dog training do have a lot in common. Both require good spatial awareness and timing. To be a good partner in either necessitates mutual respect and an understanding of the partners abilities and primary motivations. Plus it’s appropriate for kids of all ages which is always a plus when it comes to incorporating them into good dog handling practices.
On a deeper level, choreography is simply the stringing together of ‘behavior chains’ which is beautiful displayed in this video. A behavior chain is fancy dog trainer jargon for ‘an event in which units of behavior occur in sequences and are linked together by learned cues‘. If you teach it right, Fetch is a great example of a behavior chain. You throw ball, dog chases ball, dog retrieves ball, dog delivers ball, repeat. Of course, most dogs are better at training their owners to fetch.
Dancing with dogs, professionally known as Canine Freestyle, can be simple maneuvers or more highly trained specialized behaviors. It’s great for a rainy day or simply to improve heelwork and your relationship with your dog.