Planning seriously for shows can help achieve your goals

KL agility.pngBy Karen Laker

From left to right Torro, Moog, Rhyme Pikachu and Chic.

Well its April already and the agility show season is already begun with good weather making the outdoor shows already doable.

Our dogs are all set for a busy year with the competing dogs looking fit and strong.

We feed CSJ CP24 all year as even when not competing they are being kept fit and active.

This year we have decided to change Torro to CP18 as he is now 13 and naturally not quite so energetic.

Chic is coming up to 18 months and looking promising.

We have got out of the habit of taking our planning seriously for shows regarding getting the most benefit for achieving our goals.

Rhyme had an injury over 18 months ago that we didn’t manage to sort fully for a while and then had a long rest. Last year was a lot of lets see what happens.

Moog was a very immature dog and so again it was a case of let’s see what happens.

Pikachu was not keen on competing initially so again it was a case of …….. yes you’ve guessed it – lets see what happens.

This year Rhyme is now fit, Moog has grown up, Pikachu has got her agility mojo and Chic is old enough to compete. Now we need to drive our shows to make what we want to happen.

There are so many shows to choose from and each have their benefits depending on what is driving you.

It is easy to get on an agility show wheel and always go to the same shows and chase the same things. Sometimes it’s just any show within a certain distance or any show your friends are going to. This can be a lovely social way to enjoy agility.

However, if you are feeling that you are not achieving or enjoying your agility so much then take some time to list what you’d like to have achieved this time next year.

Write it down and take some time to consider if the shows you are attending will help you do that.

For example if your desire is to compete at Crufts but you only go to one show that has that chance then you are limiting your chances of success.

If you would like your dog to have moved up a couple of grades then you may want to consider which shows offer you more chances to get those wins. If the usual shows you go to only offer combined classes above your current grade but a show further away has graded classes and your favourite judge, then that show is a better choice for you.

Taking time to make different choices or understand why you make the choices you’ve always made will give you control over what you and your dog are capable of this year.



World Agility Open – Proud to be sponsored by CSJ

CSJ blog 1

By Becky Dixon

For the last 5 years, CSJ have been the main sponsor of the World Agility Open Championships

Held for the first time in 2011, the WAO is an annual international event and was the first international agility event created and managed by agility competitors. It provides the ultimate in dog agility competition, where speed, efficiency, and consistency are all necessary for success.  All dogs, whether pedigreed or not, can compete in an environment that is solely focused on the sport of agility and the event showcases the highest level of agility training, human/canine partnership, and athleticism.

During the competition, which this year is held from 17-19th May, competitors from 42 countries will arrive in Ermelo, Netherlands to compete for one of four World Champion titles; Pentathlon, Biathlon, Games and Team.  The only inhabited continent not represented is Africa.  There will also be a large number of “Wildcard” competitors, who have applied independently of their countries and been through a WAO selection process. Added to this are Country Managers, Team supporters, Trade Stands and of course the WAO Crew and the numerous volunteers, without whom the event simply could not take place.

CSJ blog 2The commitment and experience of the Management Team behind the World Agility Open is essential to its success, and has been proven time and again in organising events around the globe.

Heading up the Team is Greg Derrett

Greg has been competing in agility trials since 1989, racking up enviable success nationally and internationally.  His exposure to competition at all levels as both competitor and judge, at home and abroad, gives him a unique perspective as an international agility event organiser.  His goal is to manage competitor-focused competitions, with their safety and enjoyment, twinned with excellence in course design and judging, of paramount importance.

The logistics of the event take some organising, so initial planning for an event starts around 2 years in advance and even longer if a venue needs to be secured.  Ermelo will be the venue until at least 2022 so that is one major factor taken care of for now.  However, internationally renowned judges aren’t available at the drop of a hat and as three are needed, careful consideration is given to this at a very early stage.

Detailed planning starts as soon as the previous year’s competition is over, with Greg often typing notes for the next year on the journey back home to GB.

The WAO Crew from the UK arrive on site on the Monday of the competition week with a clear focus… transform an equestrian centre into a world class agility venue, enable two days of training for the competitors, followed by a three day international competition and then leave the venue as if they were never there.  All that in just seven days!!

From this…CSJ blog 3

To this:     

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The example above is the main ring.  There are also two outdoor rings to transform.

Days 1 and 2 are all about the build

A huge amount of equipment is either stored at the venue or shipped out from the UK for the event.  This includes barriers, IT equipment, networking systems, thousands of metres of cables, marquees, banners, podiums, country flags and flag poles, paint, signs, stationary and refreshments to name but a few things. All the agility equipment that will be used is also shipped out from the UK.   The UK team of around 20 people will already have been given their roles for the event back in the UK and know exactly what they need to do in the build days.  They are joined by volunteers from the host country to get the venue looking as it should be.   A Team leaders meeting takes place every evening to ensure things are on track.


Days 3 and 4 are for countries to check in at the event and train their dogs on the equipment and surface that they will be using during the competition

There are also a number of briefings and meetings that take place during these days.  These include meetings between the Judges, Ring Manager Meetings and Country Manager Briefings.  The aim is to ensure that everyone is aware of all the information that they need to know to make sure the event runs successfully. With 42 countries attending, the Managers meeting can sometimes take some time due to the translation required to ensure that everyone is getting the same message.

Day 4 concludes with the Opening Ceremony

A riot of colour, flags and noise as all competitors assemble in the main arena to declare the Championship open.

In the next instalment we will take a closer look at the competition days themselves.

Thanks always to Ceri Rundle and CSJ, without whose support this event could not take place. 

About Becky Dixon

Becky-Dixon-458x458Becky has been involved in agility since 2006 and currently runs a working cocker spaniel. Together with her partner, Neal, she has 4 dogs. Once bitten by the agility bug she soon realised that she wanted to contribute more to the sport and decided to have a go at judging at a club show. Ten years later she has attended a number of judging courses and undertaken a whole range of judging appointments across the UK.

She is passionate about the need for judges to be good role models and enable competitors to develop their skills by setting challenging tests of ability, while ensuring they are also safe and appropriate. She has always been keen to develop her skills further and attended the Global Judging Program in 2016. In January 2017 she undertook the Global Judging Program Assessments and achieved the status of GJP Approved Judge.

She has judged the UKA Grand Finals in November 2016, the Team England WAO Try-outs in September 2017, the CSJ Agility Open in June 2018, the UKI Canadian Open in September 2018 and the CSEN finals in Italy in December 2018.

Becky worked as a UKA representative at shows for a number of years and has become a lot more involved in show management over the last couple of years. This includes the UKA Grand Finals, The CSJ Agility Open, The US Open and The World Agility Open. She really enjoys being involved in event management and is always grateful to work as part of such a fantastic team, who consistently deliver world class events.

Surprise, surprise this month I’m writing about Crufts…


By Mark Laker

Yes its that time of the year when dog enthusiasts all over converge on NEC for four days at one of, if not THE best known dog show on the planet.


Karen and I are planning on being there for three days this year. On Thursday I’ll be at the YKC ring watching the Agility Dog of the Year competition which is part of this year’s YKC Team GB qualification process. The standard of this years junior handlers is extremely high, so team selection is going to be tough…again…


Crufts is also a great opportunity to watch the senior squad members perform on the green carpet and to meet friends and clients in a perfect environment for dog fans.


Karen and I have recently refreshed Agility1st our online service for agility instructors. We launched at Crufts five years ago – it doesn’t seem that long ago. Since then the business has trained over 100 instructors and hopefully helped to raise the standard of agility instruction. So I’ll be looking forward to meeting some of our trainers at Crufts too.


And of course I’d love to catch-up with some CSJ customers, blog readers and followers. Ceri and the team have provided fantastic support to agility in the UK over the years and I feel honoured to represent them. So if you see me at Crufts come and have a chat. I’m particularly interested in any subjects you’d like me to blog about…or those you’d rather I didn’t!

The CSJ Big Sporting Dog Quiz Of The Year Check your answers here…


Screenshot 2019-02-05 at 14.56.38Agility

By Steven Richardson

Q1). How many championship tickets do you need to become an agility champion?
A). 3 championship tickets

Q2). What faults are incurred for a pole being knocked down?
A). 5 faults are incurred

Q3). What is the highest grade you can get to in Kennel Club shows?
A). Grade 7


By Ben Robinson

Q4).What is the (stretched) length of the most commonly used canicross bungee line?
A): 2metres.

By Ben Robinson

Q5). What age can dogs compete in canicross competiton?
A): 1 year old.

By Lucy Matthews

Q6). What is the standard race distance for canicross?
A): 5km


By Sam Bawden

Q7). How long is a flyball lane from the line to the box?
A). 51 foot

Q8). What consists of a multi breed flyball team?
A). 3 or 4 recognised breeds and one cross breed permitted

Q9). What is the fastest team time recorded?
A). 14.74 Tails We Win


By Andy Cullen

Q10).What does HPR mean?
A) Hunt Point Retriever.
Q11). Name three types of working Spaniel?
A) English Springer Cocker Spaniel Clumber Spaniel
Q12). What is a blind retrieve?
A) A retrieve the dog is sent for but hasn’t seen


By Kath Hardman

Q13). Is a dog allowed to compete whilst on a lead in HTM or Freestyle?
A). NO. A dog must be off lead whilst competing.

Q14). In Heelwork To Music, how many official positions can the dog work in?
A). 8 on the left or right hand side of the handler, facing forward or backward, across the front or back of the handler

Q15). What are the allocated maximum marks to be obtained for each of the three categories which are judged in HRM and Freestyle?
A. Content and Flow, Accuracy and Team Performance and Musical Interpretation, eachallocated a maximum of 10 marks


By Jeannie Gee

Q16). What side does a dog usually do heelwork on in competitive obedience?
A: Left

By Mary Ray

Q17). Which is the first class that features sendaway as a test?
A: B

By Mary Ray

Q18). From which class do dogs have to retrieve the judge’s article?


By Ceri Rundle

Q19) Who was first lady to win International Supreme Champs – when and where?
A). Julie Hill won the International in 1996 held at Chatsworth
Q20). How many handlers make up each Home Nations Team to go and compete at the annual International Championships?
A). 20 handlers (15 singles plus 1 reserve; 2 brace; 1 driving and 1 Young Handler).
Q21). Which Musketeer was mentioned in the first AWwD series?
A). d’Artagnan


By Emma Gates

Q22). How many Challenge Certificates must a dog win to become UK Champion?
A). 3
Q23). What does BIS stand for?
A). Best in Show
Q24). Which of the 7 groups in the UK is the border collie part of?
A. Pastoral


By Mary Carter

Q25). If you want to tell your husky team to take a right turn, what command would you give?
A. Gee!
Q26. Which CSJsponsored handler won the IFSS European Championship in 2018 and the WSA World Championship in 2017?
A).John Carter
Q27). In Sleddog racing, what term is given to the metal anchor that is used to hold a Sleddog team from moving forward when racing in the snow?
A). Snow hook


Thank You!

Karen and Mark Laker launch a new website – Inner Agility

Moog2I always thought the off-season was a quiet time of the year… how wrong was I? The last couple of months have been as busy as ever in the Laker household. In the world of Agility Team GB we’ve been busy finishing the Performance Weekend schedule; preparing for squad day two for the juniors and adults later this month; working on the 2020 squad qualification process and trying to keep track of recent announcements about this years international events – not exactly a quiet time. And then….

Karen and I launched our new website – Inner Agility This has been something we’ve been meaning to do for a while. We decided it would be done in 2019. The idea is to bring together all our activities into one place. There’s still some tidying up to do with various social media sites, however the main piece of work is done thanks to our web designer friend Niall.

Following on from my recent article about forming habits I’m pleased to say so far, I’ve kept to the new habits I’m trying to establish…mostly! There is the occasional day where something comes along that prevents me from achieving the days objectives. Interestingly, it now annoys me and makes me more determined to achieve it the following day. I also have to be creative to achieve some habits when day-to-day activities get in the way. For example I set out to achieve 10,000 steps a day. This is doable on a usual day, but when I have to travel on business it’s quite hard…even with some of the long walks in airports. However, I’ve found that asking for a hotel room on the 10th floor and using the stairs rather than the lift I can not only achieve 10,000 steps but also achieve the days calorie count. Why is it that climbing stairs never gets easier…

I’ve attached a picture of my young lad Moog enjoying the recent snow we experienced while staying with family. I’m no photographer but I’m quite pleased with this one.

Sven and Blitz from the Netherlands were selected for Crufts 2019

In August last year agility handler Adelaine Bastiaansen’s son Sven Bastiaansen and his dog Blitz from the Netherlands were selected for Crufts 2019. In the photos below, you can see the kit that agility handler Adelaine designed for Sven and his Coach.


Sven and Blitz will running the jumping for kids up to 12 years old. Good luck Sven and Blitz! Find out more about Adelaine Bastiaansen


Habits are fascinating traits… So how do they work.?

By Mark Laker
I signed off last month writing about habits and said I would share some thoughts in this months article. Hopefully you’ve created a habit at reaching for the next CSJ article so you’re keeping up with my writings and were expecting this piece.


Habits are fascinating traits

We have them, animals have them, we consciously and unconsciously create them, we find bad ones hard to break and good ones hard to create. So how do they work.?

Our brains have evolved to create habits out of repeatable tasks. For example: breathing, blinking, swallowing. We don’t have to consciously think about performing these acts they’re habits or processes that are running in our sub-consciousness all the time. This allows our conscious brain to focus on the immediate things around us that mostly related to our fight, flight or fight instincts. e.g. don’t walk out in front of that bus, don’t put your hand in the fire etc…

Other habits like smoking, drinking, gambling are difficult to break because our brain gets a shot of dopamine –  a reward-motivator, each time we perform the habit which makes us want to repeat it. The habit loop is a bit more complicated than this, but essentially we get a reward for performing the habit when we receive the cue or get the desire.
There are other types of habits that we can apply to sport, goal setting and objectives – this is where it gets interesting. Latest research shows that creating a habit to achieve something you want can be more effective than goal setting. Now before you rip up your 2019 goals, targets and objectives (what do you mean you haven’t written them yet!). I should make it clear that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating habits, it’s down to individuals.

Like blinking and breathing if we can perform a repeatable task enough times, our brains commit this to our sub-conscious and hey-presto! It’s a habit …. we don’t have to think about it any more, it just happens. Like tieing shoe-laces or riding a bike, once learnt you don’t have to re-learn it.

As an example, if we do something everyday that takes us closer to our goal e.g. 15 minutes training our dog, or 20 minutes walking, or fitness training, or researching a new training technique eventually we’ll create a goal-related daily habit.

Research has shown that your sub-conscious takes over and natural instincts start guiding you towards your goal.

I’ve been experimenting with this idea for six months and so far its working for me. I’m finding my formed habit now finds time in my schedule each day for activities that take me closer to my goals.

Habits are fascinating traits if you’re interested in finding out more about how they work and how to break them read ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg.

Have a great Xmas and New Year.

Mark Laker
Agility Team GB International Team Manager