Musical canine freestyle is a fun way to train your dog and get great exercise in for you and fido. It’s great for people and dogs of any age, size or breed. I started training dogs when I had my first two Australian shepherds. I enjoyed teaching them basic obedience, but I wanted to know what I could teach my dogs. Basic obedience training was easy and fun and I wanted something more advanced that I can teach a young age. I also need something I can teach in the comfort of your own home. I thought about agility training, but my dogs must past the age of one to get really into it and it takes a particular area with special equipment.

Then, I finally discovered musical canine freestyle. It is the best of obedience, agility and trick training and adds in some musical creativity and dance! My dogs loved it! You can start training puppies in canine freestyle early on and really jumpstart their learning. It really helped me burn my two aussies energy and make them more connected with me from the start. Mental exercise is far more stimulating than pure physical exercise and helps you get energetic or hyper dogs and puppies to expend their energy and become calm cuddle buddies much faster and easier.

Musical Canine Freestyle is a dog sport in which you do creative heelwork to music and add in all sorts of fun tricks like sit, lay, spin, jumps, leg weaves, and circle around, etc. The choreography of the routine is up to you to create and has very few limitations. You get to chose what actions work well for you and your dog and select music that compliments its movements so it looks like he is dancing.

Clicker training is the most efficient way to train your dog to dance. Trainers have found they can teach their dogs in a matter of minutes and weeks what it used to take forever to teach using clicker training methods. Clicker training is a positive reward based training system. During training, never give any punishments or use negative reinforcement. Your goal is to make your dog to look and be happy about his training time. Learning tricks and cool moves is always an optional thing for your dog to do. Some moves and tricks might be hard for him to do and may not be well suited for your dog. Listen to your dog and if you think that something is not right for him, move on to something else. Remember many moves and tricks can tax your dog’s body so be sure they are age appropriate and stop when youre ahead. You don’t want your dog to be sore after training. It might dampen his enthusiasm in the future.

When clicker training your dog to dance, use good rewards. Food works best for most dogs. Use something that is really smelly and tasty like real chicken, hot dogs, liver, turkey, and cheese. The treats need to be cut up into small bite size easy to swallow bits. It’s best to use real food, for two main reasons: for one it is soft and easy to swallow, the second is it is healthier, cheaper, and tastier than store bought dog treats. Don’t skimp on the treats either. Keep the rewards coming to keep your dog engaged and to be giving him as much positive feedback for what he is doing as possible. For dogs not motivated by food rewards use what works for them. It may be playing with their favorite toy such as a tug toy, squeaky toy or Frisbee. He may love working for your praise and attention alone. It is good to have a variety of foods and toys to keep the treat basket interesting longer and keep your dog engaged longer.

The clicker training formula for training tricks is lure, mark, reward. We use the clicker to mark each behavior we desire. You can also use a marker word such as yes to mark good behaviors. It is recommended to use the praise, pet, treat sequence of reward. By using this reward sequence, we are being highly rewarding for our dogs during training and it is easier to transition to praise and petting rewards in the future.

Your marker word needs to be a word you do not normally use except to mark desired behaviors. I use a marker word for behaviors and moves my dog already knows when we are practicing. He does not always receive a treat immediately during these practices. My marker word is yes. My reward and praise word is good. I use good as positive encouragement when training as well. Remember to be happy and enthusiastic during dog training sessions. Your dog picks up on your energy and feeds it back to you.

I use the clicker as my marker when training new skills or working to make moves more precise. The benefit of a clicker is that it is not produced naturally in nature, so the dog is not already desensitized to it. It is a unique sound easy to hear and recognize by your dog. We charge the clicker by clicking and treating a few times to get the dog’s attention and get him excited about the clicker. We do this by clicking and treating several times. Now, your dog is ready to respond well to the clicker. Timing is critical when clicker training in that you want to click on the exact behavior you want, if you are slow you may click once the behavior has passed and your dog thinks you are rewarding him for a different often undesired behavior. Be sure to reward after every click, even accidental ones. You don’t want your dog thinking he has to make you click multiple times in order to get a treat.

Once you get more advanced, you can train behaviors using the shaping methods. With this method you click and reward for each action that is a closer approximation to the end behavior you desire. Example, if you are teaching your dog to bow, you may first click and treat for his head going down, then his head moving down further, then his body stretching back, then for a slight bow, etc.. until the dog is bowing in the correct position. With the shaping method, you are not luring the dog, but marking the dog for doing the action on his own and getting closer and closer to the end goal. This procedure takes more patience and knowledge about what successive approximations to go for when teaching new behaviors. Many trainers agree that using this method gets your dog thinking more and results in an easier to train and more solidly trained dog down the line. Personally, I use a combination of luring and shaping depending upon the behaviors.

Using clicker training methods, you will have your dog dancing in no time.

To learn more and to get a free guide to getting started in musical canine freestyle, visit my website at www.DoggieDancing.com

Written by,
Melanie McClure

Using clicker training methods, you will have your dog dancing in no time.

To learn more and to get a free guide to getting started in musical canine freestyle, visit my website at www.DoggieDancing.com

Written by,
Melanie McClure

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