Do Dogs Dance | Or Is It Just Playing?

My love of music has always been there ever since I was little.  It made me wonder though, do dog dance?  I remember driving in the car with my parents, and there was always music playing in the vehicle.  My dad also was a huge lover of music.

Do dogs dance
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  When I got older and got own place, music was always playing in the background throughout my day.  Once I got my first dog I was always conscious of how loud my music was played, just to make sure I didn’t scare them.  I wanted them to enjoy the sound of music and not to be afraid of it.

I never had any of my dog’s dislike the sounds, but I also never had a dog respond by dancing when hearing the sound either.  This all changed with my Labradoodle Finnegan.

Before that though, lets first understand what music and dancing really is.


Music is so powerful, that even people that can’t hear can feel the vibration.  OK so what is music really?

Music is the collection of sounds and tones coordinated together in a certain order.  The order of music creates a composition that can be played by artists or musicians.  The thing about music is that it allows us to feel an array of emotions, experiences through different environments.

We can hear a song and it can instantly take us back to the memory that we have connected to that song.  I like to say it is a way back into the past.  Decades can pass and we still remember the first time we heard that song.  The emotions that we feel about the memory is literally passed through the music.

I have this experience happen to me on a regular basis.  It doesn’t matter where I am or what I am doing, the second that I hear an old song I loved, instantly I have a flash memory from the past.

Music actually transcends any languages, nationality or culture.  A good song is a good song.  It surpasses any boundaries that exist in the world.  Music has the power to change people’s life and also a dog’s life.

dogs and music


Sometimes when we hear a song it makes us move our body to the music and DANCE.  Dancing is when we move our body rhythmically to the sound or beat of a song.  The movement we create is within a given space and lets us show our personal expression or emotion for the song.  Dancing movements are organized in a rhythmic pattern of steps, circles, leaps and even the odd kicks.

Energy is released by our bodies movement and it makes us feel full of joy.  There are many types of dance in the world and no matter what dancing it is, people are captivated by the art of movements that is created.

dogs love to dance

When people dance, you can feel the emotions the dancer has for the song.  It is a powerful way to express feelings of love, anger, and of course pure joy.  All you need to do is watch people in a room when one person starts dancing. Everyone is instantly paying attention and it becomes infectious.  I believe it is the happiness and joy we feel when we are dancing that people are so drawn too.

Music brings people together in a way that nothing else can.  It can change the mood of a room, it can turn frowns upside down.

Now that we understand how dancing effects people, what about dog’s? Is there history to show that dog’s dance?

Dogs dancing

My dog FINN was a very sweet and gentle boy, I remember him always stuck to me like glue.  He loved to be wherever I was.  Every once in a while, my love of listening to music would lead me to dance around my house a bit. Yes the crazy lady that has her own dance parties, just cause I can…YUP!

Well anyway, that dancing would instantly cause FINN to get up, come over and put his paws up as high as could.  He would start jumping up and down grinning from ear to ear.  Tongue out and literally laughing.  It is the most adorable thing.

The first couple of time, I just thought that it was a coincidence.  Maybe he was just doing that, because he wanted attention.  But it turned out, every time I would turn on the music and start dancing he was there to be my partner.

doggy dancing

Now that was my experience with one special dog, so does that mean that this is a fluke or one time type behavior from a dog.

Well let’s first take a quick peek into the history.  In history there have been signs as far back to the Pre-Columbian era off a piece of art that was retrieved in an Aztec tomb.  This piece of art depicted dog’s dancing on it.  Even that far back, which is hard to believe.  So history tells us that many dog’s have liked to dance and that responded to music when it was played.

Dogs throughout history were part of circus acts, performers on the street and Vaudeville performers.  They were cast as performers in movies like the 1941 movie “Lady Be Good” featuring a tap dance routine with actress Eleanor Powell and a Russell Terrier.


Dance and obedience mix

Dancing and dog’s really started building steam in the 1980s when dog agility and obedience training because super popular.  Dog trainers started using the idea of teaching dog’s to heel to music.  Effectively creating a type of dance routine.

They called it musical canine freestyle also called freestyle dance or just canine freestyle.  This type of dog dancing became so popular they considered it to be a sport.  The sport showcased the special bond between a dog owner their beloved dog all through a mix of music, dance and obedience training.

dog obedience dance

It started to really become super popular and in 1999 a former ballroom dancer and competitive figure skater Patie Ventre founded the World Canine Freestyle Organization.

Once the organization was created, dog’s and their owners would pop up at competition’s, talent shows and of course obedience classes.  Dance is an art form, but when combined with training, people really take notice.  Seeing a dog’s performance of a routine really shows the amount of rhythm and coordination it takes for the dog to complete.

We all know dog’s can be trained to learn tricks and follow commands, but the ability to teach a dog freestyle really shows a dog’s ability to learn dance choreography.

There are really 2 types of canine freestyle. First we have Musical Freestyle which is a performance with tricks and obedience training to music.  The routine contains moves like dancing close together. spinning and jumping. The second style is called Freestyle Heeling.  The big difference between the two is that freestyle heeling is a dog performing a variety of tricks, but this time they are on their hind legs or heels.  Dogs and their owners are dancing very closely together.

Seeing dogs complete a specific routine to music, is absolutely breath taking.  The dogs pure joy and pleasure completely shines through in their performance.

People are very drawn to watching dogs performance on any stage.  It has gotten so popular that we see dogs on the biggest stages in all types of competition shows.



A dance off

The idea of dog’s loving to dance comes from the ability of certain dog breeds to be fast paced learners and dog’s that are just smart.  Breeds like Poodles have always been well suited for canine freestyle simply due to their love of performing and overall train ability.

The reality is that there are many breeds of dog’s that love to dance.  My boy FINN is proof that even without formal freestyle training, a dog that is easily trained and strongly connected to their owner can love to dance.  Ultimately I found out that he just loved music and always wanted to be included in whatever dancing or movement I was doing.

So whether you are dancing in your kitchen and your dog joins in, or actively training your dog in obedience to music, dog’s will respond with joy and passion.  I believe it’s dancing and not just playing, but you be the judge.



4 thoughts on “Do Dogs Dance | Or Is It Just Playing?”

  1. Thanks a lot for such an amazing review about Dogs Dance and explanation are given.

    I have a dog that still does this, so I decided to search the web. I have read many articles but this is the best I have read.

    Thanks again for this post. If you don’t mind, I will share this article on my social media account. Good luck!

    • Hi,

      Thank you so much for you nice comments on my post, you made my day.

      It makes me happy to hear that my dog FINN wasn’t the only dog out there that loved to dance. I have to say I always felt such joy watching him try to get involved. 

      I would be super excited for you to share this post on your social media.  I appreciate you thinking of it.



  2. Cats don’t dance. Neither do dogs, which is interesting given the co-evolution of canines and human beings. The evolutionary purpose of dogs is to be pleasing to human beings, but apparently natural selection drew the line at them dancing with us. You suggest that there are striking similarities between dogs and humans in both the structure and function of a key brain region: the caudate nucleus. Obviously dog brains are not the same as humans. One big difference is in the size. A dog brain is about the size of a lemon, at best, if it’s a big dog. There’s not the same real estate in there, so they can’t do some things we can do.

    • Hi Ruby,

      Although we don’t have the same opinion about whether dogs can dance or not, I would like to thank you for sharing your input on the subject.  I love to hear other people thoughts on my topics.  

      I guess the most important thing my dog taught me was that if I was having fun, he wanted to be part of the magic too.  He brought me such joy and watching his videos now that he is gone, makes me so happy.  I get to remember the best of him. 

      Thank you again Ruby for sharing. .



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