Welcome to The Real Time Canine

My name is Amelia Smith of BorderSmith Kennel and with The Real Time Canine, I am providing training technique for Border Collie Sheepdogs. Beginning with 10 week old Kensmuir Star, I will document his daily lessons in words and pictures every Sunday. Previously subscription based, the complete working journal is now available here every Sunday.

From the moment I collected Star, his training began and you will be with us every step of the way. Good manners, willingness & confidence are necessary for him to attain my goal to become a useful working sheepdog and successful trial competitor. From the first lessons on manners & socialization to his first exposure to sheep, you will be a part of Star's journey to success.

After a lifetime with animals, dogs, horses and livestock, I am happy to share my expertise with you. I have found success in sheepdog trials at home and abroad and have trained dogs that went on to find success with others. To learn more about me and my dogs, please visit my BorderSmith website and my BorderSmith Blog! Cheers and thank you very much.

Feb 22, 2009

Week 14

This week I was considering how my relationship with Star effects his training and whether I do things differently with each of my dogs depending on how I feel about them emotionally. I must have a truly strong attachment to a dog for us to be at our best together and I believe that love and devotion, rather than fear, from Star will compel him to try his best all the time. This week's lesson:
  1. Affection

Here is an excerpt: Star is at an age where he's just a little busy for all the hugs and kisses. Don't get me wrong, he enjoys it and will relax completely with me, but he would just as soon be outside with the big dogs. They are much more interesting just now. When it's his turn to come in for the night, I usually get down on the floor and give him a huge snuggle after I first let him out of the crate in the morning. He's torn between running for the back door and the big dogs and throwing himself down to soak it all up. As he's matured, he is choosing the snuggle over the big dogs a bit more, but becomes impatient with me after a few minutes and heads for the door. Since he's learned so much in the last 3 months, I have lots of reasons to praise him up, so I let him go and satisfy my need to show him affection after he's done something particularly brilliant, which happens fairly often. The big dogs would sit in my lap all day if I let them.

For every subscription received during the month of February, I made a donation to the ASPCA, and the fund raiser was a huge success. I have made the decision to continue this effort from now on. From every subscription to The Real Time Canine that I receive, a portion of the fee will go to the ASPCA. In this way, subscribers can help themselves raise better dogs and together we can benefit all animals. From a 1 year subscription, $3 will go to the ASPCA, $2 for 6 months and $1 for 3 months, with my sincere appreciation and thanks.

Feb 15, 2009

Volume 13

Star has been with me for 3 months already and it was time to reflect and consider what he has learned. This week I gave a pupdate. In the last few months Star has learned to be a respectful, well mannered good citizen that crates easily, travels well, play well with other humans and animals, and is relaxed, confident and quiet. Quite simply, this puppy is a complete joy to have in my kennel. Here is an excerpt:

Star knows how to please me and what it sounds like when he has. The same for correction and he knows the difference between the two. For me, this is the most important lesson as everything we do from now on will be based on approval and correction. "Yes, you're doing it right," and "no, that's not it. I don't want him to be afraid of correction. I want him confidently looking for "yes, right!" I have already witnessed in him the desire to seek that out and I'm excited and pleased about that. Disobedience elicits a growl from me and compliance gets the happy tone. It's as if I were flipping a switch, his body language and expression are so different between the 2 voice responses. As he matures, while I handle him in this manner, he will choose behavior that garners him the happy tone more often than not, and pretty quick I'll have a well trained dog that is happy, secure and confident. Wonderful!

I have not yet reached my goal of $500 to be donated to the ASPCA from subscriptions to The Real Time Canine. If you or your friends or family would like to benefit the country's oldest animal cruelty prevention organization and receive weekly lessons on how to raise a great dog, I welcome your participation. On February 11 the organization raided a Tennessee puppy mill and rescued 285 mostly small breed dogs from squalid conditions, and they could really use your help right now. If you would prefer to simply make a donation directly to the ASPCA, please do so with my thanks.

Feb 6, 2009

Volume 12

It is back to basics this week as Star-man challenges my basic skills as a trainer. Like the adolescent he is, Star tests me to discover whether I really mean it and whether I am willing to do what it takes to enforce the rules, even on a beautiful day in the country, when it would be so easy to look the other way. This week's lessons:
  1. Patience
  2. Timing
  3. Consistency

Excerpted from Volume 12, The Real Time Canine:

Patience, timing and consistency go hand in hand. I am patient with Star because he is young and a completely blank slate. The only things he knows are what I've taught him, good and bad. I will give him lots of time to mature, teaching him lessons along the way that are appropriate for his age. The best part of having to consistently repeat a particular lesson over time is how rewarding it is when a dog finally understands what I want. I love that feeling, and it seems to me that they do too. Once my dog and I have experienced that together, trust develops. Instead of fearing that it won't happen, I trust that he will eventually understand. In turn, my dog trusts that I will give him sufficient time and support necessary to do so.

There is still time to help me attain my goal of donating $500 to the ASPCA from subscriptions received during the month of February. You can help yourself raise a great dog, and the ASPCA prevent cruelty to animals.

Feb 1, 2009

Week 11

Star has graduated from the retractable leash to a 4 foot fixed leash. He has learned that he must stop when I call him, but now he is receiving formal lessons in coming all the way to me when I call. A lie down will become useful when I begin his training on livestock, so I am teaching that now too. It is easy to train these 3 disciplines together and I always do. Because Star has a solid training foundation, these things are easy for him. Work hard in the beginning to train your pup, then training becomes easier as your pup grows.

This week's lessons:
  1. Walking on a leash
  2. Lie down
  3. Come here

Excerpted from Volume 11, The Real Time Canine:

It just makes me crazy to see a handler being walked by their dog. The handler has a hold of the leash and their dog is straining at the end of it, usually wild-eyed, panting and lunging, and, incredibly, sometimes barking at the same time. Many times the handler will be stooped over skidding along behind while speaking to the dog as if it had any affect. This is disrespectful, plain and simple. No matter what discipline you choose to participate in with your dog, even just keeping it as a family pet, your dog will not do what you want it to unless it respects you. If you want your dog to be housebroken, it must respect you. If you don't want it to bite people, it must respect you. If you want it to be a quiet dog, obedient dog, successful working dog, successful sport dog or well-adjusted family pet, it must respect you. There are many ways to engender respect from your dog and proper leash walking is a big one.

A Utah dog trainer has written to tell me that she has recommended to her students that they subscribe to The Real Time Canine. Referrals are the highest praise, and I thank you very much.