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.

Mar 29, 2009

Week 19

I had an opportunity to witness how one of the greatest sheepdog handlers in the world prepares his dogs for a big event and I was mightily impressed. I have modeled my own efforts to make my dogs physically fit after his methods and Star began endurance training this week.

This week's lesson:

  1. Creating stamina and endurance.

Here's an excerpt:

Another benefit of all this exercise is that I have truly tired dogs afterwards, there are fewer squabbles in the ranks and a much quieter dog yard. Generally speaking, endurance training creates dogs that are much better behaved. There's an old saying in the horse business; "you can't train a horse that is too fresh or too tired." It is true for the dogs as well and the reason that running them from the bike is the last thing I do at the end of the day.

3 or 4 times a week I run my dogs for a few miles behind my bicycle and Star began endurance training this week. He is physically mature enough to withstand the training without risk of injury and it is necessary to create the lung capacity and endurance he will need later to be an effective worker and trial dog.

Mar 22, 2009

Week 18

Star's maturity is starting to show in the form of increased confidence. I have curbed my frustration when he doesn't immediately respond to me and increased play time to strengthen our bond. It's working and he is responding confidently and willingly where before he was a little cautious. Sensitivity comes with intelligence in dogs and just becoming aware of my emotions around him has helped.

This week's lesson:

  1. Maturity

Here's an excerpt:
It is really amazing the changes dogs go through when they are young and it is so apparent to me how easily we can damage their sense of well being and confidence. I hear owners complain about the myriad of strange behaviors that manifest in our dogs. Understanding the tremendous sensitivity that comes with intelligence, I can't help but wonder how many are of our own making. The more puppies that I raise, the more I realize that I am better off using lots of observation and patience with restrained correction until my puppy has had time to mature. That doesn't mean no correction, it just means not frightening, intimidating or painful correction.

Star is maturing physically as well and I will be starting some light endurance training in the next couple weeks to create lung capacity and stamina. I run the dogs from my bicycle, which is good for them, good for me, and fun for everybody.

Mar 15, 2009

Week 17

Star had a busy week. He went with me and a friend to work dogs on a ranch about an hour away and we spent a lot of time out of doors. There are standards of good behavior for visiting and Star learned them when we went to the ranch. In my continuing efforts to socialize Star and develop our bond, we have increased play time. It's not enough for him to love me, I want his complete devotion and feel that it's important to our working relationship.

This week's lessons:
  1. Time to visit
  2. Time to play

Here's an excerpt:

I am making every effort to patiently wait him out, while doing whatever I can to increase his confidence. One of the things I am trying is play time. I want him to internalize that I am fun and trustworthy, so I am making time almost every day to rough house and play with him and he is responding. We wrestle and roll around together, he bites my feet, rolls on his back beside me and mouths my hands and arms while I rub his belly. The other day I took a blanket and played peek a boo. He ran around dragging it and I grabbed hold when he flew by and threw it over his head. He would struggle to get it off then fly around the yard again. He clearly enjoys this time together and it increases our bond. So cute.

On a light note, I have chosen winners for the BorderSmith Caption Contest. How clever everyone was with their entries and it was hard to choose just one, so I awarded first and second prizes. Check it out on the BorderSmith Blog.

Mar 8, 2009

Week 16

Star got in with the sheep this week and gave me a glimpse of what I hope is to come. Demonstrating balance and feel for his sheep, he brought them in my general direction while I used my happiest voice to try and distract him and pull him off. The last thing I would want to do is lose my patience with him for demonstrating traits that have been selectively bred into him over hundreds of years. This week's lessons:
  1. When is it time?
  2. What is soft?

Here's an exerpt:

I often wonder what is the appropriate age to start a dog and I have experimented within a range. I have seen handlers start dogs very young, at 4, 5, 6 months, who pushed them beyond their tender capabilities and the dogs suffered as a result. They did what they were told, but the intensity was missing as was the happy, willing expression on their faces. I don't believe youngsters should be trained that hard, by other than the masters anyway, and it takes spontaneity out of them instead of instilling knowledge. Too much training at an early age takes the edge off and tires a dog mentally. The ability to assimilate sustained training, correction and physical exertion come with maturity and I prefer to let my dogs be puppies for as long as necessary.

The "Caption Contest" will run for another week and you should see the clever posts over on my BorderSmith Blog. I'm already planning another opportunity for April, but the contest and the prize will be different. Won't you join us and play?

Mar 1, 2009

Week 15

Things were fairly quiet for Star this week and he got the chance to just lay around and be a dog. Every day is an opportunity to learn something though, and this time it was me who did the learning. I learned more about my dog simply by keeping him close to me while I did every day chores and observing.

This week's lesson:
  1. Relaxation

Here's an excerpt:

Is all this relaxing a waste of time? I believe definitely not. Star is becoming more and more responsive to me and last week I noticed it even in the smallest ways. The way he looks at me when I say something other than his name, like "hey" or "here," "let's go," "that'll do." He makes his way into the truck now when I say "load up" even when he's torn away from his first choice and the food treats for "here, here" are working brilliantly. Even to the extent that he's keener to hear my voice. He's snappier, if you will. In fact all of last week, I think I only had to correct him once for not coming when called. Remember, giving a treat to entice and reinforce isn't enough, you still have to give correction for being wrong.

I am offering the "CAPTION CONTEST" over on the BorderSmith blog and first and second prizes are free subscriptions to The Real Time Canine. Take a look at the picture of Mirk and the sheep and enter with your cleverest caption. Wanna play?