For those who enjoy music and are interested in how obedience and your favorite songs can be combined for a canine performance event, canine freestyle or musical canine freestyle might be the sport for you. Both sports require that you develop a routine for you and your dog and set it to music.
Canine freestyle competitions are sponsored by the Canine Freestyle Federation, Inc. (CFF). Events held by the CFF emphasize heeling-based maneuvers that are set to the musical piece of your choice. At the novice level, you are required to perform certain movements within a specified time period; however, you are allowed to perform with your shepherd on leash. The required elements at this level might include such maneuvers as heeling on the right, right and left turns, a circle, and a pivot. The advanced level is performed off leash and requires more maneuvers with greater precision — also set to music.
Musical canine freestyle encourages costumes (for both handler and dog) and more elaborate choreography. Events are held by the Musical Dog Sport Association (MDSA) and World Canine Freestyle Organization (WCFO). Dog-and-handler teams are judged on their choice of music, timing, costuming, routine development, and showmanship. The moves can be anything you can dream up — from basic obedience (variations of heeling) to flips, dips, spins, and aerials.
If you go to see a freestyle obedience demonstration, don't be over-whelmed! The highest levels of competition are truly awe-inspiring; however, everyone started somewhere. With this sport, novices all begin on leash and with very simple, basic routines.