What is Freestyle?
Freestyle simply means that the handler is not restricted to working a dog at heel. In HTM a dog must be in a heelwork position for 65 % of the routine - in Freestyle they are only allowed to be at heel for up to 35% of the time. The rest of the routine, or should they choose all of it, is made up of a series of moves that demonstrate the music, either the wording, phrasing, rhythm or theme.
Do dogs dance in Freestyle?
No. They are responding to cues given by the handler which may or may not be in time with the music. It is up to the handler to incorporate moves that enhance the flow of the routine. Freestyle gives handlers freedom to interpret the music in whatever way they feel as long as what they are doing is safe for the dog and suitable for a family audience.
Why is it sometimes called dancing with dogs then?
Dancing explains the relationship between dog and handler - the confidence the dog has in its handler - it may be dancing for the handler but for the dog its about trust and confidence and a loving relationship.