Jump to content
BC Boards
Elwood

Advice needed to start "dancing" ...

Recommended Posts

After seeing all the wonderful clips on BC dancing on YouTube . I'd like to learn how. Yet our nearest class is over an hours drive away.

 

I've searched YouTube yet can't find any clips. So I cast the question out there to all the wonderful BC owners who can give me some guidance using clicker training and breaking down each step??post-18320-0-06374800-1470702756_thumb.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are a few threads about freestyle in the Obedience, Agility... subforum.

 

It's basically just stringing tricks together with music. Some people design their performances to be in line with certain titling organizations' requirements, some do whatever they want for fun. The first step is teaching some tricks. Spin, heeling on both sides, backing up and paw lifts tend to be good starter tricks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are a few threads about freestyle in the Obedience, Agility... subforum.

 

It's basically just stringing tricks together with music. Some people design their performances to be in line with certain titling organizations' requirements, some do whatever they want for fun. The first step is teaching some tricks. Spin, heeling on both sides, backing up and paw lifts tend to be good starter tricks.

Thanks for some tips that I can start on. That's wonderful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pretty much any trick can be made into a 'dancing' routine. The biggest thing is the heeling learning everything on both sides and in front. Eventually you can also add distance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmmmm . . . .may I ask you (or anyone who wants to chime in) this?

What, literally, is the first thing you want to know?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want toknow what the basic first steps are. Like anything we don't know about, we need to get a basic understanding of how things are constructed, work and the steps involved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am also interested in dog dancing and did find a 3 class introduction. We finished two weeks ago, but it left way more questions than answers.

The first thing the instructor did was have us heel with our dog, looking for the natural gait/beats per minute of your dog at a trot. That is suppose to determine the beats per minute music that will best showcase your dog. You will need someone to time and count dog steps during the dog's natural trot.

My Runa was 220 bpm, quite a bit faster than the other dogs in our class, and I never did find 220 music that I could stand. So my options were double time to 110 bpm or find something close to 220.

Instructor talked about the dog needing to be able to do everything on your right and left, the importance of shaping the start and finish (nothing about the middle?), and how to work the floor. It was all pretty basic and didn't say how to actually start developing a routine? So, I did some internet research.

What I found useful-
Find the right bpm music that you can listen to over and over and over again, without going crazy.
Most routines are 1.5min (beginning routings), to 3+ minutes.
Break routine into sections. I liked the suggestion to start with the last section first and work forwards.

I chose 5 moves that Runa seems to enjoy doing reliably and have been working on finding smooth transitions. We're just starting, but when it clicks, it is really fun!

There's lots of info on the net, but I found the three links below gave me a much better idea of the whole process and where to start, without overwhelming me.
http://thatdogdancingguy.com.au/2013/03/18/routine/
http://www.k9freestyle.co.uk/training_tips.htm
http://www.caninehorizons.com/Dancing_with_Dogs.html

Hope this helps get you started. I'm not sure if I am on the right track, so would love to hear from anyone out there who is already dancing with their dog.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is the thing about Freestyle - you will get as many responses as to how it should be done as you will find people who do Freestyle!!

Most who really get into Freestyle get involved with one of the titling venues. These venues have different rules and missions and they want different criteria!!

 

For instance, I have been involved with this discipline since 2006 and I have never once calculated the bpm of my dog's gait!! I am also not really into training super-complex tricks. I like to focus on Freestyle more as a dance and it is really about expression and enjoyment for me. And I like to do stuff that is "dancy" even though I am actually not a trained dancer.

 

So, what one instructor presents as the way to start isn't necessarily the best way for every team!!

 

That said, there are some commonalities in Freestyle, regardless of what "brand" one is interested in.

Freestyle consists of:

1. The dog knowing "moves" that can be incorporated into routines. With the exception of one Freestyle venue, there are no compulsory moves. However, there are many moves that the vast majority of Freestylers teach. The "basic steps", as the OP referenced.

Some of these are: spins (clockwise and counter clockwise), leg weaves, dog circles handler, dog backing up, dog moving laterally, bow, pivots, paw lifts/touches, and "fancy" moves like standing on hind legs (if appropriate for the dog)

 

2. Movement. A handler could put on music, stand in one place, and cue 20 tricks, but that would not really be Freestyle. In a Freestyle performance, the team moves artistically through the performance space. This might be in the format of a dance, or the performance might tell a story, but the team is in motion throughout the routine.

 

This can be achieved through: heeling (on the right or left), dog moving in front of the handler, (in some titling venues) dog moving behind the handler, backing up, lateral movement, moving leg weaves, sends

 

3. Transitions. The dog needs to move from one side of the handler to the other, and in Freestyle it is best to do this in a seamless and logical way. Transition moves are not necessarily readily apparent to the audience, but without them, the performance would be choppy.

Some transitions are: switches, leg weaves, transitions off of spins, pivots, dog circling handler, etc.

 

4. Music. Freestyle is choreographed to music. Music is always incorporated into Freestyle performances in some way.

5. Choreographed movement. When you have experience, you can improv. But usually, and most especially when one first starts, moves, movements, and transitions are choreographed in a way that goes along with the music.

 

Choreography includes: Moves included in the routine, movements included, floor patterns in the performance area, sequencing of moves/movements, "matching" the moves/movements to the music (ex. pauses where the music stops, changes of pace where music changes), dynamics, making the whole thing interesting, making the whole thing work for hte individual dog.

 

 

These are common elements. Different venues want different cue styles. Different venues want different amounts and types of technical moves. Different venues allow/require the dog to work on different numbers of sides of the handler.

BUT - if you are just starting to get into Freestyle and you just want to have fun with it with your dog, you are not bound by titling venue rules!! So, don't worry about cue styles. Don't worry about technicalities. Just be safe, start putting movement together to music, and have fun!!

OK, more questions!! Specific ones!!

I am actually thinking about putting together some blogs/videos on this topic. A lot of people ask these questions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the world of Canine Freestyle.

Like Root Beer, I have been doing this with my dogs for ten years or more. I have also never once calculated the BPM that my dog moves. What I do instead, is choose music that I really, really like (you have to listen to it hundreds of times), and then move around the room with my dog at a heel, and see how he moves to the music. Believe it or not, dogs actually have preferences when it comes to music, and if your dog doesn't like the music you won't have fun. If your dog moves nicely to the beat, then it will work. If possible, ask someone else to watch you and your dog just walking to the music and see what they think.

 

Although it is really fun to train fancy tricks, it is more important at the start to have a good foundation. This means a reliable heel on both sides (most folks here call left side "heel" and right side "side"), and a good "front" position, which means dog standing and facing you, lined up straight. Work these constantly, because without those positions being good your routine will never look polished. With those positions solid, you can use them for a great number of impressive looking moves, such as side passes, front passes, turning with you in place, and so on.

 

Look for what kinds of moves your dog likes. Some dogs like paw work, some like to be on their hind legs, some are jumpers. Not surprisingly, most border collies excel at anything involving circling :) , and the circle move can be used in many variations.

Definitely capitalize on what your dog likes to do. For some dogs, doing a certain move is like a reward, and you can build a routine around those moves.

 

Clicker training works best for Freestyle. It is OK to lure your dog into position at first if you want to or need to, but be aware that the goal is to fade hand signals and use voice cues only - it makes the routine look much better. Of course, some hand signals can be incorporated into dancy-looking moves on the part of the handler, but if you can put all cues on voice-only, it will be much more versatile.

 

We'll be glad to help you with specific moves if you want. I love this sport, and so do my dogs, and I like encouraging others to participate in it. It is really a great way to have fun with your dog, and every single person I know who has been involved with Freestyle says that it has strengthened the bond they have with their dog.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ellwood!! I put this together for you, although it is something I can now share with anyone who asks the question.

I have compiled a video that shows most of the basic "steps" that most Freestylers train their dogs to do. These are clips from my own work with my own dogs (Speedy, Dean Dog, Tessa, and Bandit).

 

You will see in the video that I am using a lot of physical cues - my venue of preference is one that allows that, although I do take part in two verbal venues, as well. All of these can be done without physical cues - except leg weaves, which do require movement of the leg.

The only thing in here that isn't "standard" is the Distance Spiral. That was Speedy's own specialty. But I included it because it actually is something pretty easy to teach.

If you start off teaching some of these skills (along with movement, such as heeling), you will be off to a good start!! None of them are "required" - these are just common.

Enjoy!! And I hope this helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's my video of my 'for fun' freestyle routine. https://www.facebook.com/CohenTheAustralianShepherd/videos/1581850362102340/

 

I do it with a team for public performance, so I don't get to choose the music, unfortunately. It'd be a lot better if I could do it to my music of choice.

 

I also don't use a lot of heeling for... reasons that aren't exactly apparent to me. I guess I'm mostly in it for the tricks. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do a lot of heeling. I adore heelwork. Speedy and I would go out on the floor and just move together through a whole song, with only a few twirls or transitions.

 

But I actually don't start Freestyle by training precise positions. I teach basic moves, and I work with my dog on movement. The movement can be however the dog wants. We work on precision later.


I do that for two reasons. First, I just don't want this to be too technical. That's not me.

Second, I want my dog's natural style to be part of our heelwork, and I need to get a read on how the dog enjoys moving before decide exactly how I am going to approach position training.

 

So, those who are just getting started in this - there is so much choice!! If tricks are more your thing, run with that!! If movement is more your thing, you can do gorgeous performances without all that many tricks at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's my video of my 'for fun' freestyle routine. https://www.facebook.com/CohenTheAustralianShepherd/videos/1581850362102340/

 

I do it with a team for public performance, so I don't get to choose the music, unfortunately. It'd be a lot better if I could do it to my music of choice.\

 

Cohen is definitely having a blast!! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Elwood, I am so glad you posted asking advice about dancing,


The responses were very interesting and informative. Root Beer and Sekah, thanks for posting the videos.



Judging by the adrenaline rush I got when Runa completed a short series of moves, I think I could really get into canine freestyle. I would love to take another class, but can't find any offered (Twin Cities area).



I don't know where to go from here?



How did you all get started? Did you take a class/classes, did you do it on your own, can a person do it on their own?



I found these three organizations.


World Canine Freestyle Organization, Canine Freestyle Federation, and the Musical Dog Sport Association in the United States. Should, at what point, or is it necessary, to join one? Is it normal to have to travel for classes? CFF has a North Star Notes Guild in Minnesota, but it is 1.5 to two hours away.



I've spent many hours watching dog dancing videos on tube and like Elwood, it looked like so much fun I really wanted to try it. The 3 class intro was the only class I could find and it was kind of a buzz kill.


The instructor was very insistent concerning the bpm of the music and also that the song shouldn't have lyrics During the second class, we were doing some side to side heel work and a couple of us were getting into the music (a little bounce in our steps) and were told not to, that the focus is on the dogs? It did take the fun out of it for me. I ending up thinking "Maybe not for us", but I became enthusiastic again after reading more about the overall process. So, we have been working on our own, in my basement/backyard (with a little bounce in my steps, is that really bad?).



Thanks in advance for any input.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MyRuna,

Those freestyle organizations are probably not helpful to you at this point. the only reason that I know of to join them is if you want to compete in freestyle. They are the organizations that hold the major competitions, in which you can earn titles and awards in freestyle, and in order to compete you have to belong to the organization. You don't necessarily have to travel to a place where a competition is being held - they have video competitions as well. You can find out about those at their websites.

 

But for now you are just beginning. Forget the BPM thing, unless it appeals to you. It is not by any means necessary, and the person who told you it is was only telling you their opinion, not a fact.

It is important, however, to use music that you love and your dog likes, and that fits your dog's pace. You would not expect a basset hound to dance to a fast song. Usually border collies are pretty swift and you should start with music that has a good strong beat and that is not too slow. But just to get started, simply choose music you like to dance to.

 

Whoever told you that you should not move with the dog doesn't know what they are talking about. Of course you should move - bouncy steps, or whatever you want to do. The idea is to dance with your dog, not just walk around like a robot while your dog moves. That being said, the kinds of moves you do will vary according to what kind of freestyle you do. Some venues of competition want you to use fewer and fewer hand signals as you move up in your competence, and others don't care if you use hand signals. I personally think that if you are going to use hand signals they should look like part of the dance. If you Google Carolyn Scott and Rookie doing their legendary routine to "You're The One That I Want", you can tell she is giving hand signals to her dog, but they are incorporated into her own dance moves. On the other hand, if you watch the winners of the freestyle competitions at Crufts, you will not see any hand signals at all, but if you watch the mouths of the handlers you can tell they are continually giving voice cues to their dogs. That is what I personally strive to do, because the MDSA and WCFO competitions do not want hand signals, and while I don't really have the ambition to compete, if I ever wanted to I would have to be able to do it on voice command if I expected to do well. Plus, to me, it just looks much more polished and professional if you are not using hand signals. It makes the whole thing more "magical" to the audience if the dog is just moving with you than if you are directing the dog where to go in an obvious way.

 

As for classes, you may have to travel to find one. Although the sport is gaining in popularity it is still not found everywhere. Here we have two dog clubs in which people do freestyle, one of which is exclusively freestyle, but even so there is not a class held every year. My group practices together weekly and performs frequently in town and around the state, but we don't hold classes very often because it is hard to organize one and a lot of work for us to hold it and we almost never make any money. Perhaps you can find someone in your area who does freestyle and they can help you out?

 

How I got started was that I saw a video and knew I wanted to do that. I taught my dog a few moves but then felt stymied because I did not know how to teach more things or put it to music. I was very lucky to be able to join the group I have been dancing with now for 10 years. They taught me a lot. I never took a class because the members of the group basically told me what I needed in order to train myself and my dog, and I am still learning from them; we learn from each other. It is very helpful to have someone watch you dance, or train, so that they can see things you are not aware of. I have also taken seminars and workshops with well known freestyle trainers, and have traveled to another state to take a workshop with Richard Curtis, who is arguably the top freestyler in the world today. You could learn a huge amount if you could take a seminar.

 

If I can help you, I would be glad to. I can tell you how to train certain moves, and how to choreograph and so on, if you like. I always want to encourage others to get into this because it is so much fun.

And, by all means bounce away! The whole idea is to have fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I don't know where to go from here?

How did you all get started? Did you take a class/classes, did you do it on your own, can a person do it on their own?

I was fortunate. When I first got started I had a class available to me, and I was part of that class for several years.

Now I am an independent Freestyler, but it is definitely helpful to have someone to work with when you are getting started.

That said - those who title in the art and sport of Freestyle tend to hold very passionate opinions on how Freestyle should be done. You want to find someone to work with who matches your style.

 

I found these three organizations.

World Canine Freestyle Organization, Canine Freestyle Federation, and the Musical Dog Sport Association in the United States. Should, at what point, or is it necessary, to join one? Is it normal to have to travel for classes? CFF has a North Star Notes Guild in Minnesota, but it is 1.5 to two hours away.

No. And I would actually advise against getting hooked up with any particular organization unless you want to look into titling. And then you will want to find the organization that fits you best - they are all distinct from one another.

WCFO puts a lot of emphasis on costumes and glitz. They are the organization that currently has the most opportunity for participation in live events in he US right now. They do want handler dancing, although they just started a new skit division which would not require handler dancing.

 

If you work with someone from WCFO, a lot of emphasis will be placed on verbal cues and the dog working behind you because those things are important at the upper levels in that venue.

 

WCFO events are a lot of fun. I only participate in WCFO through live events, not video.

 

CFF is a highly secretive organization. You can't even access a lot of their information unless you join. They are the ones who operate as you describe below - no handler walking to the beat, etc. There are people who are quite dedicated to it.

 

My favorite Freestyle organization is the Dogs Can Dance Challenge. Currently it is mainly a video venue (although I have participated in two live events). The DCD Challenge is the best kept secret in Freestyle!! The focus is on showcasing the dog, but you can have fun and move, too! Less emphasis on costumes and props, although you can have some fun with them in the Entertainment division.

 

I don't know a lot about MDSA.

 

A newer one, RFE, is all about verbal cues and not using your hands. Some people are quite passionate about that.

 

I've spent many hours watching dog dancing videos on tube and like Elwood, it looked like so much fun I really wanted to try it. The 3 class intro was the only class I could find and it was kind of a buzz kill.

The instructor was very insistent concerning the bpm of the music and also that the song shouldn't have lyrics During the second class, we were doing some side to side heel work and a couple of us were getting into the music (a little bounce in our steps) and were told not to, that the focus is on the dogs? It did take the fun out of it for me. I ending up thinking "Maybe not for us", but I became enthusiastic again after reading more about the overall process. So, we have been working on our own, in my basement/backyard (with a little bounce in my steps, is that really bad?).

You can put all the bounce in your steps that you want!! It's YOUR art that you are creating with YOUR dog!!

 

Thanks in advance for any input.

 

Well, I have an online Freestyle school and I teach Freestyle classes through that medium. I usually only run them over the summer, but if there were people interested, I might be willing to offer my Intro class free of charge to anyone interested in getting started . . . . with an emphasis on having fun with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you considered Rally FrEe as a way to learn the basics without having the pressure of creating your own routine. I'm not sure what the availability of classes are, but I do both and find rally FrEe does a better job helping me build on and prefect my freestyle skills!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have just started doing some Rally FrEe, myself. My freestyle group members have been doing it at practices just to challenge ourselves, and also to learn new transition moves and find out what things we need t owork on with our dogs. You can find the moves on the internet and practice it on your own. Good suggestion.

(Rally FrEe, in case you want to know, is a course like Rally Obedience, but each post you come to has a sign telling you to do a freestyle move).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rally FrEe is great, but I would caution most people to take care not to get too hung up on the whole verbal cue/lack of body language aspect of it.

Honestly, I was finding that Rally FrEe was starting to suck the fun right out of my training. I recently had a great Freestyle experience that reminded me of why I fell in love with this sport to begin with and I made the decision to make my Freestyle training a lot less technical.


I am still working on Rally FrEe with Bandit, but I am not putting as much emphasis on the technical side of it. I am going to use body language that is natural for him. Nothing wrong with working on verbal cues, but Freestyle proper is about a lot more than cue style.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's my video of my 'for fun' freestyle routine. https://www.facebook.com/CohenTheAustralianShepherd/videos/1581850362102340/

 

I do it with a team for public performance, so I don't get to choose the music, unfortunately. It'd be a lot better if I could do it to my music of choice.

 

I also don't use a lot of heeling for... reasons that aren't exactly apparent to me. I guess I'm mostly in it for the tricks. :P

Sekah, watched your routine on Facebook, which was awesome, and also found your video for teaching hug. I bought fresh peanut butter last night and can't wait to train that trick.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks My Runa,

 

And all the others with some guidance. I now understand that "freestyle" is also dancing, or what we call it here in Australia.

I'm now armed with lots of places to start. In which I have chosen to start with frisbee tricks, since he loves his disc and those tricks are easily converted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sekah, watched your routine on Facebook, which was awesome, and also found your video for teaching hug. I bought fresh peanut butter last night and can't wait to train that trick.

That's awesome! It's a relatively advanced trick, so keep at it. Beg/sit pretty is basically my favourite thing that I've ever taught my dog. It's so many kinds of adorable. Good luck! Let me know if you need help troubleshooting any issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Elwood, thank you so much for posting the question on dog dancing. I was lost as to where to go next, till your post received responses from this wonderful community.

 

The posts here have been great. I meant to thank you all sooner, but I got caught up looking at the pamsdogtraining link, WCFO, Dogs Can Dance, and Rally FrEe websites, and re-watching the Grease and the Crufts routines. Hours/days can fly by before you know it.

 

D'Ellie and Root Beer, thank you for all the information, advice, and the offers to help. The length and depth of your posts are impressive, so much information, presented in a way that pulls me more into this. It is obvious from reading your posts how much you enjoy this sport, and it is contagious.

 

Root Beer if/when you do an online class, I would definitely be interested.

I still can't find any canine freestyle or Rally FrEe (Cass C, thanks for the heads up on this) locally, so it is good to know there are options for online classes.

 

I know Runa and I have a long way to go before we even think about competing. Our first goal will be to have fun (which I now feel I have permission to do) and will worry about venues later.

 

Thanks again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...