Canine freestyle is an international sport that pairs dogs and humans as dance partners

By Kelli Bender
Updated November 05, 2015 07:08 PM

Does Dancing with the Stars have a dog category? Because Bounce and Java are ready.

The Australian shepherds belong to Sally Silverman, a canine freestyle instructor at Y2K9s Dog Sports & Training Club in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, reports Canine freestyle is a growing competitive sport, that can be described as simply dog dancing. Silvermen teaches owners and their pups how to work together to perform synchronized congas, pirouettes, leg weaves and more.

“Their dogs are companions,” Silverman said. “They want to do something with their dog that they both enjoy.”

The instructor started dancing with Bounce and Java, who both have the highest possible rankings in the sport, at home 14 years ago without knowing canine freestyle even existed. Once she learned about the sport, she started seriously training with her pets.

“It was one of those things: I wasn’t going to be crazy and hooked on it,” she said. “I would only do it occasionally. I would never drive more than a half-hour to go to a competition. I would never go more than one day on the weekend. Well, suffice it to say, a couple years ago, I drove out to Oklahoma for a competition.”

This growing passion soon turned into an occupation, Silverman now teaches three canine freestyle classes a week at Y2K9s. Through her work, she has learned that the key to creating a successful human-dog dance duo is a fun-loving attitude, positive reinforcement and patience.

“Some behaviors might take two minutes. Some might take two weeks,” she said. “I’ve been trying to teach Bounce how to skip for a while. On the other hand, I taught him how to ride a skateboard in two days,” Silverman said. “One of the things about this sport is how humbling it can be.”

Dog owners who are interested in trying out the sport should be prepared for their dogs to lose interest in a the middle of a routine, forget the moves or do something that makes them look silly, but more than anything, owners should be prepared to have fun.

While canine freestyle is an international sport with sanctioning organizations, it is also an unique and phenomenal way to bond with your furry buddy.