Rhythmic obey: what is this dog sport? Where and how to practice?

The most famous dog sport is of course agility. But it is not the only one that exists, the one that interests us today is a dog sport as surprising as it is beautiful to observe, it is rhythmic obedience (contraction of “rhythmic obedience”) also called helwork to music, dog dance or dog dancing.

It is fascinating to observe during a performance the great bond between the two partners and the fabulous educational work they have shown, both the master and the dog. But what exactly is rhythmic obey? And how to start this dog sport which seems so difficult?

What is rhythmic obey?

It was in 1990 that a British woman named Mary Ray demonstrated this new dog sport that she practiced regularly with her dog. Inspired by a method of equestrian education called the Kür which consists of educating a horse against a background of music, and ultimately making it move in rhythm, this new practice carried out with a dog fascinated the public.

In 2000, Great Britain as well as Belgium formalized the discipline and organized their first competitions, followed by France in 2005. Soon, many other European countries made it official, such as the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland or Norway.

The principle of rhythmic obey is to perform a choreography with your dog against a background of music, a principle skillfully mixing classical education with playful movements of agility.

The key is to ensure that the dog’s movements with your own movements become harmonious, seem to be fluid, and not a series of small exercises put together.

How to start practicing rhythmic obey

This discipline unfortunately little known to the general public could be of interest to you. If so, it is quite possible, as long as your dog is receptive and is in fairly good physical condition, since it will be a sport for him.

You will first need to instill in him the notions of figures, also called “tricks”, to teach him to jump, to roll on the ground, to pass between your legs, to climb on your back, etc. First, start without music, everything in time. The “rhythmic” side of this practice will come into play once the basics of the figures have been acquired by your dog. Of course this will take a lot of work, and if you don’t know how to do it, agility can be a great start to training it to follow complex orders.

Clicker education can also be very useful in teaching him these types of tricks and making him understand when he has achieved what you expect of him. In addition, like any good dog training, you will need to have something to offer him a little treat once he has succeeded in his exercise, so that he can associate what he has just done with a reward.

Once the first basics of tricks have been understood by your dog, you can get down to business more seriously. Indeed, you can then introduce music (preferably soft to begin with), and have your dog do the figures at your own pace, which will follow that of the music.

It can be attractive to train with several owners and several dogs, but it is however very not recommended, because to learn and perform these complex figures, your dog will need all his attention which will not be easy if there is other dogs with him, the game would be too tempting.

You now have all the basics you need to practice rhythmic obey with your dog. It is by dint of many hours of work and training that you will achieve the desired result; let’s not forget that it is a practice that requires a lot of effort for your dog, but it is also during all these moments shared with him that you will develop all this complicity that will allow you to perform these beautiful choreography with him, because after all, the main goal is to have a good time with your four-legged friend.