Pet tricks: Teach your dog to dance

Teach your dog to dance

Updated: July 30, 2012 03:41 PM EDT
Dog dancing mixes obedience and tricks with creativity, costumes and more. (©Hemera/Thinkstock) Dog dancing mixes obedience and tricks with creativity, costumes and more. (©Hemera/Thinkstock)
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By the editors of The Daily Dog 
From The Dog Daily

Q: I've seen owners dancing with their dogs, doing some really cool moves. I'm not interested in competitions for this, but I would still like to train my dog to dance with me. Any tips?

A: Dog dancing, also known as musical canine freestyle, mixes dog obedience and tricks with creativity, costumes and more. You and your dog can, of course, skip the visual flash associated with competitions and just focus on the basics.

According to Kyra Sundance, author of Do More With Your Dog, every breed of dog can excel at dancing. However, some of the top dogs have been border collies, golden retrievers, poodles and various mixed breeds, she says.

To begin, Sundance advises that you select a short musical piece of about one to two minutes that reflects your dog's energy and pace. High-energy pups would do better with a very up-tempo song, while a lower-energy dog would do better with slower music. "Choreograph a routine and break it into pieces of two or three moves," she suggests. "Train these pieces as a sequence."

One of my favorite moves is to teach a larger dog to put its paws on one arm while you're standing. If the dog walks on its hind legs, it looks like you are really moving together. This is not just for show either. As Sundance points out, if your dog learns to greet guests in this manner, with paws on one arm, the individual will feel welcomed -- not threatened.

For the dance move, it's best to start on your knees at dog level. Raise one arm and lure your dog's head upward with a treat held by the opposite hand. Your dog might put its paws on your arm by itself, or you may have to do some gentle coaxing with your hands. Once your dog is in the desired position, provide a food treat. Repeat this a few times while using the verbal cue "Paws up." When your dog gets the knack of this, stand up and repeat the exercise just as before. Voila! Your dog is in dance partner position.

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