Heelwork to music

Heelwork to music is a sport recognised in many countries, along with a variant called musical freestyle. Based on obedience, this relatively recent sporting discipline was developed in the United Kingdom and North America around 1990, gradually spreading to continental Europe.

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At the end of the 1980s, one of the leading dog trainers in Britain, Mary Ray, began demonstrating a highly precise form of heelwork. By 1990 she was doing it to music.

At the same time on the other side of the Atlantic, canine freestyle began to gain popularity in both the United States and Canada. Musical freestyle is a sport that combines obedience and dance, with less focus on heelwork. Human and dog move freely, enabling the human leader to attain a choreography with the dog in which all movements and figures are permitted, provided they are not dangerous.

The first official competition was held at Crufts in 1996, leading to the official recognition of heelwork to music by the Kennel Club.

Training is based on obedience and reward. The dog quickly learns to correct its errors when it does not get a reward after an exercise.

When everything goes to plan, the dog mirrors the moves of the human perfectly. This requires human and dog to work very closely, just as in other canine sports. Heelwork to music is a creative, artistic sport that often appeals to women. When human and dog are in perfect harmony they are able to perform remarkable feats in a dynamic, enthralling musical atmosphere.

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