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More Articles

Where Obedience Leaves Off and Freestyle Starts
A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose
The Freestyle Challenge
Getting Started With Freestyle
Definition of Freestyle and Structure of a Freestyle Performance
More Than Just Heeling
Creative Development of Movement
Music, Rhythm and Freestyle
Understanding Required Moves
Do I Have to Dance?
Freestyle - A Point of View
Training: a New Mindset
My Introduction to Training a Freestyle Dog
It Takes Three - The Audience
Choreography: How to Begin
40x50 Feet: The Empty Canvas
Rhythm: The Great Organizer
What is a Guild

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The first step in choreographing a freestyle presentation is to decide exactly what you want to show the judges and the spectators. In other words, what is your motivation. Without motivation it is next to impossible to choreograph.

There are many possible motivations. You may wish to illustrate the personality of your dog, show specific movements or combinations of movements, share your favorite music or display your training talents. The possibilities are endless. You need to make choices to narrow down those possibilities to clearly define the reasons behind your choreographed presentation.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to answer the following questions. Take the time to write down your answers and be as specific and honest as possible. Then, after a week or four or five training sessions with your dog, reread your responses and make any additions, deletions or changes you deem appropriate. Then reread the definition of freestyle.

  1. Describe your dog’s personality. Use descriptive words such as frolicsome, clownish, sweet, silly, serious.
  2. Describe your dog’s movement. Use descriptive words such as powerful, light, quick, slow, graceful, athletic.
  3. Describe your personality. Use descriptive words such as vivacious, intense, quiet.
    Describe the way you move when walking. Use descriptive words such as purposeful, meandering, light on feet, bouncy, heavy, two left feet.
  4. What kind of music do you like? (pop, smooth jazz, rock, rap, classical, etc.)
  5. Do you prefer the sound of certain instruments such as brass, percussion, piano, strings?
    What specific exercises does your dog do best?
  6. What is your favorite exercise to train?
  7. What turns your dog on?
  8. What turns your dog off?
  9. What specific exercises do you think your dog enjoys the most?
  10. What specific exercises do you think your dog enjoys the least?
  11. Again using descriptive words describe yourself as a trainer (patient, detail oriented, good timing, tentative, good reader of dog etc.)
  12. What is your dog’s favorite reward (you, food, toy, etc.)
  13. How do you communicate with your dog?
  14. Describe your dog musically (heavy, pompous, light, airy, waltzy, jazzy, haunting, gypsy, crisp, staccato, bluesy, etc.)

Now start a list of your dog’s movements which you wish to emphasize and those which you wish to minimize. Check the requirements for each Level, including the length of the music, and decide for which Level you want to prepare.

If you need help determining your dog’s natural rhythm ask a training friend to help you with a metronome. Heel your dog in a large circle so he is driving steadily and evenly forward and using his rear. Set the metronome to fit the beat of the dog’s feet. This beat, or a few higher or lower, is what you want to feel and hear in the underlying beat of your musical choice.

Now start listening to music and doodle and improvise with your dog as well as doing some heeling. Try spins, circles and serpentines. Be very aware of any movements your dog may improvise - you will be surprised at your dog’s creativity. Video these sessions and then watch them. Go back to your questionnaire again and make any adjustments brought to your attention. Now highlight those things which stand out in the video.

When you have selected your music start to train specific movements and combinations of movements to the music.

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