Dog enthusiasts and owners are always looking for new sports for their canine companions. Not only do they wish to show off the intelligence dogs possess in being able to complete complex moves and tasks or navigate through and around complex obstacles, they also wish to find a multitude of outlets in which their dogs can vent their energy and feel like they're performing a "job"; a dog that is mentally and physically occupied and stimulated is a happy dog. Lastly, dog owners are especially in search of activities that will allow them to spend time with their pets and strengthen the human-dog bond. One of the newer sports that has popped up on the dog competition scene and which has been gaining quite a bit of favor is musical canine freestyle. The Havanese can often be seen in this sport; their intelligence and willingness to please their owners make them ideal dance partners.
Many uninformed individuals call this sport merely "heeling to music"; it is true that there is a type of musical canine freestyle that focuses simply on heelwork set to music, but participants adamantly disagree to such a limited view. While the basis of the sport is rooted in obedience, musical canine freestyle (also called simply musical freestyle or canine freestyle) adds tricks and dance, set to music, to basic obedience so that the dog and owner develop a more creative relationship that is free from the restrictions dictated by basic obedience. Today, there are a number of groups and organizations that hold and regulate musical canine freestyle events, promote certain styles and award prizes.
The rules for competition will be slightly different depending on the organization sponsoring the event and the country in which the event is held, but there are some basic points having to do with technique and artistic execution that are similar among the various organizations. For example, with the exception of some of the beginner levels, competition routines must be executed without any kind of leash or training aid. Any number of "team" compositions are accepted, such as one dog and one handler or two or more dogs and their handlers; the team composition most often seen in competitive events, though, is one dog and one handler. Whatever the team, the most important thing that judges look for is that the music match the pace and nature of the routine; even if a dog performs all of his "tricks" flawlessly, if the music and routine don't match, stylistically, judges will not award many points.
Canine Freestyle exhibitions are becoming quite popular on the television; many of the routines seen on TV, though, are dubbed "exhibition freestyle" and usually don't follow any competition rules. This type of freestyle is simply aimed at showing off how creative and exciting the sport can be. Competition level musical canine freestyle can include heelwork, such as pivoting, moving backwards, forwards and diagonally, and other types of commands, such as sending the dog away and weaving; tricks are more complex parts of a routine and may include spins, jumps, rolling over and bows. Judges always like to see the dog directly responding to the dance moves of the handler.