Crufts & the agility competition season has well and truly started now

CruftsBy Mark Laker

Crufts was good

The agility produced some great runs which was even more exciting this year as the KC had invested in new carpet for the arena. This carpet was from the same manufacturer who supplied the Agility World Championships in 2012; one of the best surfaces the championships have been run on. So lots of happy people and non-slipping dogs which was nice to see and another example of how developments at the top of the sport filter down to the general community.

The agility competition season has well and truly started now

The weekend shows have started, the caravans are out and this weekend the sun shined too! My youngster Moog has had his first taste of the competition ring. It was very exciting for him. He is enthusiastic and finds all the movement very distracting, however, we did okay. We’ll be using the next three months as practice opportunities as we develop the competition partnership. It’s going to be fast and a lot of fun.

The Agility Team GB Coaching team are now focused on preparing for the Performance Weekend at the end of the month. This is the highlight of the squad process and a chance for the squad members to show us what they can do under international conditions. After this we announce the 2017 teams.

A busy month for Team GB

by Mark Laker
February was a busy month for Team GB activities. The Coaching Team hosted a number of Facebook chat sessions focusing on their specialist subjects. Most of the squad joined in with questions, views and sharing experiences. It was the first time I’ve tried this and it seemed very popular.

I also held the final junior try-out day and the second squad day for the adults. I made a conscious decision at these days to scale back some of the usual activities and focus on dog/handler performance on the agility field; this was a good move, a case of less is more.

Earlier this week we announced the junior team who will be going to Luxembourg in July for the European Open for Juniors (EOJ). We have some great young handlers representing Team GB this year. Exciting times ahead.

Finally, its Crufts week. I’ll be running in the team event on Thursday with my Scunthorpe team mates trying to retain the large dog team winners title we won last year…hope I’ve done enough training!

Going or gone…

By Mark Laker
How are the New Year resolutions going? still going …. or gone!

Last month I wrote about the importance of creating good habits that will help you achieve your goals. If you’ve created these, then I guess you’re well on your way now. If not, well its not to late to start.

If you take the habits we do every day like cleaning teeth, tying shoe laces, getting dressed etc. we don’t actually have to think about doing them; the sub-conscious part of our brain does this automatically for us. So if we can commit the habits that are going to help us achieve our goals to our sub-conscious, then Voila it just happens….

To do this we need to repeat the behaviour a number of times

There are various views on how many times, ranging from 21 days through to three months. Personally I think it depends on the individual.

In last months article we talked about picking one mini-habit that will get you closer to your goal. That’s a great tip. Just pick one thing, make sure it motivates you, (something exciting and rewarding) and then do it once a day/twice a week etc..  you will soon find you’re doing this new activity without having to think, your sub-conscious will have taken over.

I hope February is kind to you.
November News from Mark Laker

November News from Mark Laker

‘Calling up the dogs and handlers for Agility Team GB Squad 2017!’


Posting by Mark Laker

It’s that time of year again when I call up dogs and handlers for next years Agility Team GB Squad. The 50 top performing agility dogs of 2016 will be part of this years squad who will train and prepare over the winter ready for team selection in May 2017.

Over the last four years I have been slowly evolving the squad selection and preparation process. Each year I learn what has worked well and what needs improving. The plan is that we give handlers all the tools and techniques required for international competition so they are ready to perform at their best for the Performance Weekend in April.

I’m introducing a few changes this year which are designed to provide more motivation for the handlers to really engage with the squad process and ‘run to win’ on squad days. The basic structure behind having a squad is sound and we have certainly identified some of the top dogs & handlers in the country. However, we learn a bit more about what works and what needs tweaking each year, this needs to be incorporated into future squad days

Not forgetting the Juniors who will also be starting their selection process in December. These young handlers will have two try-out days before we select the team who will represent Agility Team GB at the European Open for Juniors in Luxembourg next July.

So, it’s an exciting time of the year and the start of next years performance programmes.

Team GB make last minute preparations for the FCI Agility World Championships in Spain

By Mark Laker

team-gb Team GB are busy making last minute preparations for the FCI Agility World Championships in Spain later this month. It’s the highlight of the year on the international agility calendar. Over 30 countries from afar away as Russia, Brazil, USA and Canada send teams to these championships.

Competitions are held in one indoor ring on carpet over three days

The venue is usually a sports arena with seating for approx. 6,000 spectators. The Championships will be live streamed and of course regular updates available on social media.

There are individual and team events for small, medium and large dogs with the winners being crowned FCI World Champions. Team GB are currently the World Champions in the large dog team category, a title we obviously want to retain and we have a three times World Champion (Natasha Wise & Dizzy) in the medium individual category; Natasha will be working to reclaim that title in Spain.

The Team will be tapering off training now to ensure their dogs and themselves remain fit, energetic and mentally prepared

We have a couple of light ‘surface and equipment familiarisation sessions’ planned when we arrive in Spain, a part from that all the preparations are complete.

Exciting times, I’m sure I’ll be writing about our performance next month.



Inspired, motivated & pleased! Mark Laker reflects on the European Open

Posting by Mark Laker

Well we’re back from the European Open and recovered from what was a fantastic competition held at a very nice venue in Germany. The weather was hot, the dogs were fantastic and the handlers all supported each other as a strong team. It was great working with them.

Of course we would have loved to come back with lots of medals, instead we came home inspired, motivated and pleased with our performances against some of the top handlers in the World.

This years competition was of a very high standard, particularly in the small dog height category where we saw some of the fastest most exciting agility I’ve ever seen.

Team GB had some very commendable results finishing 5th in the individual large dog category; 9th in the small dog category and 12th in the medium. Out of over 800 dogs this was a great result.

We now reflect on the competition, review our learning points, seek feedback and start preparing for the World Championships in October.

The agility season is in full flow …

Having the time of their life!

Posting by Mark Laker

For the 1st time, Agility Team GB & CSJ support a team of young handlers at the European Open for Juniors in Slovakia

By now most of the agility community are aware that for the first time Agility Team GB and CSJ supported a team of young handlers going to the European Open for Juniors in Slovakia last weekend. I was part of the Coaching Team that went along to support and manage the team. We had the most amazing time.

For a start the venue, The X Bionic sphere was out of this world. Apparently it’s one of the top sports venue’s in Europe. It can host up to 27 Olympic sports, has seven different sauna’s, a cinema, a 50m pool, running tracks, in fact everything imaginable for sports people. It was a very inspirational venue to host such events.

The competition was attended by over 450 young handlers from across Europe and was also attended by teams from USA, Canada and Russia. The standard was equal to the adult competition and the judges didn’t compromise on their course; these were some of the toughest agility courses I’ve seen.

Our handlers produced some fantastic runs bringing back bronze, silver and gold medals across all heights and categories.

One of the most memorable parts of the whole event for me, apart from the medal haul, was seeing a group of young handlers come together as a team, support each other through good runs and tough times and produce world class competition agility. There was also a carnival like atmosphere with young people from all countries coming together to dance, celebrate and enjoy the competition.

It was a most memorable event.