Anyone for Dancing with your Dog?

FORGET Dancing with the Stars. How about taking your dog for a spin on the dance floor?

Dances with Dogs is one of a growing numbers of sports in Queensland where dog owners are combining with their canines.

Dogs Queensland says dog sports have grown in popularity in the past 12 months, with the recent Dogs Queensland's All Dogs Sports Spectacular attracting more than 1,000 furry participants and 3,500 spectators, which is 16% more than last year's event.

General Manager of Dogs Queensland, Rob Harrison, said the latest sports such as, Rally O, Flyball and Dances with Dogs, encourage dogs to bond with their owner, develop important skills and exercise all at the same time.

"These sports are great fun for all, reinforcing obedience and good behaviour in the animal while providing mental and physical stimulation," Rob said.

"Playing these sports is a wonderful bonding experience, and coming in to the warmer months, they are a fantastic way to spend more time outside."

Rob said dog sports also allow some breeds to do what they were bred to do, such as herding.

Dogs Queensland and their affiliated clubs host a range of relatively new competitions including:

Rally O - A more relaxed and informal obedience course, where handler encouragement is allowed in order for the dog to complete the circuit.

Flyball - A fast-paced relay race where two teams of four dogs sprint over hurdles, retrieve a ball by triggering a flyball box pedal, then return over the hurdles again back to the start.

Dances with Dogs - Just as the name suggests, dogs and their owners perform choreographed tricks and moves to the beat of music.

Dances with Dogs

Dances with Dogs (DWD) began in the UK in the early 1990s.  It was approved by the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) as an official sport in Australia from 1 January 2009.

DWD provides handlers and their dogs with an opportunity to demonstrate a skilful, choreographed routine, performed to music. There are two divisions of Dances with Dogs, Freestyle and Heelwork to Music.

Freestyle enables the handler to include innovative and creative moves and movement in time to music, giving the illusion of dance.

  In Heelwork to Music (HTM), which is more closely aligned to obedience heelwork, the dog performs in one or more of the prescribed heelwork positions for at least 70% of the routine.

According to the Queensland's club website, the safety and welfare of the dog are of primary importance.

"There is no need to include moves which are not suitable or appropriate for the individual dog, whether due to his age, conformation or any previously sustained injury.

"Dogs are active and their fitness improves; they develop greater flexibility and, by working on both sides of the handler, avoid stiffness that can be caused by working only on one side.

"Handlers have the opportunity to develop and utilise their creative skills, and to train and showcase their dogs in a unique way.

WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE

A list of affiliated Dogs Queensland clubs can be found at

http://www.dogsqueensland.org.au/Club.

Information on upcoming shows and trials can be found at http://www.dogsqueensland.org.au/ShowAndTrial.


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