Movement, the Language of CanineFreestyle DogWork©

Photo by Jim Poor

by Joan Tennille

The objective of CanineFreestyle DogWork® is to show the dog to his best advantage in a creative and artistic manner. The emphasis is on the team's training in movement and the artistic expression of the unique behavior that develops when working and training as one. CanineFreestyle DogWork®, as a competitive discipline in the Sport of Dogs, is based on training four skills movement, performance, choreography and training a dog in a team relationship conceptually in an artistic and creative manner.

Each dog and human is a member of a single entity, the team. As a team, they complement each other, creating single designs, expressing the oneness of the team. Each team member is 1/2 of the whole design, creating constantly changing sculptured shapes, artistically expressing the oneness of the team and the dog to his best advantage. Movement shapes, artistically expressed, are non-verbal language communicating objectives and intents. Movements are trained relative to three reference positions front, and 2 on the right and left side, heel and thunder. Movements can move forward, backward, sidewards and around in relationship to a given front. Movements may also be held in stillness, caught between coming and going and implying movement.  Movements can be performed at any speed, tempo or rhythm and at all possible levels.  Movement crafted conceptually is a medium of expression for CanineFreestyle DogWork®. Choreographed Presentations are performance vehicles, choreographed with music, to be performed before spectators, to test training and relationship by illustrating what the dog does best in a creative and artistic manner and to illustrate the joy of the team in working and training as one.

Visually spectators perceive teams as constantly changing shapes, moving in and through the Presentation Space. The artistry of each team's objective, purpose and intent is expressed through their artistic and creative choices and how these are developed with the music. CanineFreestyle DogWork® movements have shape, rhythm, dynamics and an objective or intent. At least two of the characteristics must be present or the intent or the objective will not be understood.  Crafted movement is developed with music to illustrate the level of the team's training and the joy of their relationship in working and training as one.

There are four levels of competition  Beginner's Novice, Level I, on lead; Level II A and B, Novice, off lead; Level III, Intermediate, and Level IV, Advanced and Champion. Each level has a division for Brace, 1 human and 2 dogs and for Team, for multiple dog and handler teams. There is a Veterans class for dogs over 7 and an FEO for exhibition only. The last two classes are not judged. There are always 2 judges and teams are judged relative to training; technical; team work; choreography; music relative to choice, appropriateness and musicality; and finally artistic presentation relative to space, time and energy. Each level has required elements and movements as well as a creative objective. Level I and II test the use of the performance space and the musical choice to rhythmically showcase the dog and the team's training artistically and creatively. Level III uses the musical choice as means to express the mutual trust necessary to compete at this level and Level IV is the presentation of the fully trained team technically, artistically and creatively. Theoretically, the team is reaching for their full potential technically, creatively and artistically as they strive for the championship level.

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