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What is Canine Freestyle?

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.

How is Canine Freestyle trained?

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 class.

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 creatively.

When and how did Canine Freestyle begin?

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 today.

What is the Canine Freestyle Federation?

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.

What is the Paws to Dance?

"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.

How can I find out if there are any classes in my area/state? 

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.   

How can I start a class in my area?

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.


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