Why Working with Dogs Is Like Dancing
Something that not many people know about me is that I love to dance. I danced though my adolescent and young adult years. Not a weekend went by that I didn’t dance! My dad would dance, my brother, our whole family – that was our way of having fun. We didn’t have amusement parks nearby or television to watch; dancing was our entertainment and it has remained very meaningful to me. No one sees dancing as something negative – even if people don’t know how or what they’re doing, while they’re doing it, they’re having fun. There are a lot of parallels between dancing and working with dogs. Think about it – there’s consistency, practice, taking small steps, trusting your partner, staying calm and relaxed so you can flow through the movements, and most importantly, there’s a leader and a follower.
Whether you are running, dancing, or singing- what matters is the connection you have as a leader and a follower. It doesn’t mean your partner (or dog) is not having a good time if she’s following or that you’re being mean or demanding if you’re leading. It’s not about who’s having a better time. But in a relationship, as with dancing and working with dogs, it’s a necessity one leads. Both are equal. Both are important. Knowing how to “dance” as the leader removes the stigma that you’re better or bigger than the dog.
It was an honor and a privilege to meet and work with some human and dog dance partners on the road in the UK. They were true professionals like Gin and Kate and Maddie and Heather, both of whom got their start on the show, Britain’s Got Talent. I was inspired and amazed at the bond they shared and to me, it wasn’t so much about talent, as it was about the connection, dedication, and trust these two human leaders shared with their canine followers.
As you work on being the best pack leader you can be, try thinking about your connection as a dance. It will make the experience more fun and relaxed, helping to naturally bring out the calm assertive leader within you and the calm submissive follower within your dog.