A merry Christmas wish from Mark Laker

By Mark and Karen Laker

Firstly, we would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas, it will be a different one in many ways. We hope whatever your circumstance that you find a way to still celebrate with your loved ones.

Loads of thanks to those people who are working in any of the essential services

For us, this includes the people at CSJ keeping our dog’s food supply going. Ceri and her team have always been hard working and we hope that any of the challenges thrown at the working practices at CSJ haven’t been that step too far. Please take care and hope the Christmas break is a good opportunity to relax.

Having dogs to walk has always been one of our favourite activities

Now it has become a way of seeing people too. We know more people now in our tiny hamlet than before these lockdowns. The family visits have been on hold though and other than a small Christmas bubble, we will keep using the great mediums of Skype, Zoom, WhatApp or even old-fashioned telephone calls to keep our parents safe this Christmas time. They will never replace a hug, but it is surprising how comfortable everyone is now at expressing themselves via different media.

2020 certainly has pushed us out of our comfort zones and created new ones

For me agility was going to be taking a back seat anyway this year and without competitions for my customers to focus on, I decided to look into some new dog hobbies. Dog Sports UK is similar to working trials and have created a system to help new people move forward in their dog training. It is still show related for progress though, so I looked at another new dog activity – Dog Parkour UK.

Wow where did that come from – it is so much fun, non-competitive and very well organised


If like me you’ve enjoyed watching Parkour in films like ‘6 Underground’ you’d be right to be a bit hesitant about teaching stunts to your dogs. However, safety is at the forefront of the rules and in some respects the earlier levels may seem a bit tame in comparison.

There are various levels and at each you learn foundation skills before doing the challenges, earning titles and progressing.

It offers titles in different environments too, so you can do it in your own home, on a walk or even in the town. It is still a case of don’t try this at home until you’ve learned the basics and really taken on board the safety considerations.

I could tell you more and have just done a two-week online instructor course – I recommend you check out their Facebook page Dog Parkour UK.

If you already enjoy doing activities with your dog’s, you’ll find out about the skills you need to earn titles without an instructor; something to aim for in 2021 until life gets back to more normal. If you prefer personal instruction, then they have a list of instructors or pm me if you want to ask me about my experience.

A Covid safe environment for training

Meanwhile like other dog trainers, I’ve spent a good deal of time reading rules and regulations to be able to provide a Covid safe environment to restart my lessons. There is no measure of how important social interaction is between people, and dog training also embodies the joy of physical activity with your best friends of the four-legged variety in the great outdoors.

Best wishes for a happy Christmas and here’s hoping 2021 brings more settled times.

Best regards,

Mark Laker

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