Heelwork to Music Competitions are where handler and dog get to display their hard work, synchronicity, and rhythm to either win a championship title or just for the fun of it. It is basically an opportunity to display your dogs obedience in a routine to background music with a large element of heelwork. Currently this style of competition is not done through the CKC or AKC but shows are put in in the Kennel Club (UK) and through the FCI. It depends on the competition whether or not they accept international competitors.
Whatever reason a person chooses to design a routine and participate in this competition, the goal should always be fun anyway. Since it is all about creativity, the more fun you have, the more the audience sees that and has fun as well. A lot of times people compete in both the Freestyle and Heelwork to Music competitions, because they are very similar. The difference is that in the Heelwork to Music Comp’s, you have to meet a minimum amount of heelwork. For UK competitions, two thirds of the routine should be heelwork. In Freestyle competitions, they can put a limit to how much heelwork you can have.
What is Heelwork
Heelwork is essentially movement where a dog is trained to be close to or touching your left or right leg as you move in your routine, off lead. The dog can be facing forwards or backwards, and move across the front or back of the handler. What is important is that the dog be level with and close to the handler’s leg.
According to the Kennel Club (UK) competitors are judged based on three areas. This includes content and the flow, accuracy and team performance, and musical interpretation.
Heelwork to Music competitions are typically open to all breeds of dogs including mix breeds. Dogs must be a year or older to compete. The breed is not as important as is the routine and factors for judging the routine because in this show, its all about creativity.
There are 2 official competitions that international participants can compete in, like someone living in the Canada, or America. Since the CKC and the AKC do not recognize this competition, you won’t find any on their event calendars. So if you are looking to compete you’ll either want to consider the annual Crufts competition, which has taken place in the UK for the last 125 years. The FCI World Canine Organization also holds World Championships.
Crufts holds a competition each year where they only allow one individual to compete as a representative of their country. If you plan to compete at Crufts you will have to apply and see whether or not someone else applies from your country. Then they decide who can compete. You’ll want to check out their rules and regulations.
When you enter to participate in the FCI Freestyle World Championship competition, you will be competing as a representative of your country. There are only a maximum of 4 dog and handlers allowed, and a minimum of 3 needed. If you are considering competing then you should make yourself familiar with the FCI’s regulations for dog dancing competitions. These apply to both Freestyle and Heelwork to Music competitions.