Canine Freestyle is both a
training method and a competitive event in the Sport of Dogs. As a
competitive discipline, Canine Freestyle teams create their own
tests called presentations. There are four levels of competitive
presentations and the levels increase in difficulty relative to
required technical elements. At a Freestyle Titling Event each
team presents the test they have created. It is scored by two
judges in the areas of training, performance, teamwork, music
selection, and how the team’s test creation fulfilled the rules
supporting the definition of Freestyle. A Freestyle presentation
clearly expresses the working relationship of a human and canine
team by focusing on and enhancing the dog's best attributes. The
test is always presented live before spectators which evaluates
the ability of each team to maintain spectator involvement and to
communicate the purpose and intent of our sport. The purpose of
Canine Freestyle is to show the dog to his best advantage in a
creative and artistic manner.
Canine Freestyle training is team oriented.
Classes train in movement relative to reference positions. A
unifying theme for each class is used to connect technically
executed movement to artistically expressed movement. In
Freestyle, movement must evolve from the human-oriented technical
execution to canine-focused movement that is artistically
expressed. Teams in a class gain performance experience by working
in the performance space with instructor-facilitated movement
combinations or phrases. By this method teams experience Freestyle
visually, mentally, and kinesthetically relative to the class
theme. Each team is encouraged to approach the intent of movement
challenges with individual perception, performing the work in
their own unique style. Valuable insight is gained as the
instructor clarifies the work of each team during this phase of
The next part of a Freestyle class offers the
teams the opportunity to improvise or create a movement study with
the class theme as a motivation. The theme is an inspiration to
explore movement possibilities through improvisations.
Improvisation work is the vehicle by which teams build movement
vocabularies. This is the real fun of Canine Freestyle. Each team
performs its own work followed by class discussion. The movement
material is critically discussed relative to the theme. Teams
cannot see themselves; they are in the movement design. Therefore
the discussions are critical in assisting each team to grow and
develop the oneness of Freestyle. Through discussion the class
theme is internalized as a concept to be used artistically and
Canine Freestyle was defined by Joan Tennille in Memphis,
Tennessee in October of 1993. Ms. Tennille choreographed four
teams to introduce the new discipline at the Cycle Classic
Obedience Competition. In preparing the program she defined, as an
explanation of her creative work, the objective and purpose of
this new competitive discipline. She created four presentations
using each dog’s movement to communicate to spectators the
trusting relationship that develops between a dog and a human
through training. Each team presented a different intent with
music to focus on the dog work "in a creative and artistic
manner". Each team's choreographed presentation was a test to
illustrate the dog's best attributes and to express the team’s
unique relationship. Each presentation celebrated trained dog
work. These original concepts and definitions still drive the
development of the Canine Freestyle Federation presentations of
In 1995, Joan Tennille and Alison Jaskiewicz co-founded the
Federation as the governing international body for the new
discipline demonstrated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1993. The
organization began in 1995 and was incorporated in 1997.
Application for copy-write protection and trademark registration
of the logo was filed in 1997 and the Federation was awarded the
trademark sign ™ for its logo and name. The name Canine Freestyle
is the property of the Canine Freestyle Federation. Membership was
formally opened in 1997. Board members are elected by the
membership for staggered three year terms. The organization
maintains a web site, a forum for discussions, a quarterly
newsletter, a Facebook page, and a Learning Center for members.
"The Paws" is the
Federation newsletter. Members may receive copies by mail or
digitally. The first issue of Paws to Dance was published in
September 1997. It is published and sent to members on a quarterly
basis. The newsletter is archived on the web site and has been
consistently published since its beginning.
All classes are listed on our website. Click here for a list of available freestyle classes.
If the classes you are interested in are not listed on our Website, (eg, classes either in your area or on a particular topic), then there are no classes currently being offered in that area or on that topic.
If you do not have a class in your area and would like to learn more about CFF freestyle and Start a Class consider the following:
- If you have a groupthat is interested in learning CFF Freestyle together:
- Read the articles on the CFF website.
- Order and watch the Sampler video
- Contact CFF and request someone from CFF come to your area and give a 1- or 2-Day seminar to help your group get started.
- Once the seminar is over, form a Guild (training group) which can then sponsor classes and ultimately CFF Shows.
- If you train alone:
- Read the articles on the CFF website
- Order the Sampler Video
- Consider attending the CFF Retreat which is given every 2 years.