A fundamental skill for canine freestyle is the dog backing around the handler. It’s also a fun trick that will impress your friends! Before you begin teaching this behavior, make sure your dog knows how to back up in a straight line (see Teach Your Dog to Back Up to a Target). Once your dog is backing up reliably at least 4 feet on cue, you can begin teaching your dog to back around you.
Imagine moving across a dance floor, with every move in synch with the music. Now imagine your dog dancing with you, weaving between your legs, spinning and prancing in unison with you, helping you tell a magical story. That’s the beauty of canine freestyle, or musical freestyle–a choreographed musical program performed by handlers and their dogs that showcases the connection and chemistry between a dog and handler. One of the core components of canine freestyle is heelwork where the dog stays in variations of heel position. The dog can be on the left, right, behind, diagonal, and even in front of you! In this video, international canine freestyle champion Michele Pouliot and her canine partner Déjà demonstrate “prance ahead of handler”—just one of Michele’s inspiring, show-stopping routines that showcase true teamwork… and how beautiful it is when you put your dog’s best paw forward!