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.

Apr 25, 2009

Week 23

Star is progressing nicely and I am pleased with him. I considered that, if I am not careful, I may push Star in his training just to provide content for The Real Time Canine, and have made up my mind that I will not do that. As long as he is confident and happy working, I will continue working him on stock. I used exercises this week to increase his enthusiasm and he responded well.

This week's lesson:
  1. "Watch 'em!"

Here's an excerpt:

Star became useful today. Every morning I move my sheep from a corral near the house to a small field at the end of the driveway and Star got the call this morning. He was totally confused at first, because it broke routine for him and he wasn't sure where we were headed. As soon as I opened the gate into the sheep pen, he flanked beautifully around the ewes and brought them through the gate. Good boy. When I worked him in the field, I noticed for the first time a bit of hesitancy on his part and it occurred to me that I may be putting too much pressure on him. I spent some time simply encouraging him and letting him have his sheep. I hoped he would slash and burn and grip, because that's exciting. I felt I needed to trade control for entusiasm at this point. He did slice and buzz and become much more animated. Since it's his favorite thing to do, I sent him on a little gather and let him pen the sheep. But, this time instead of stopping him at the gate once they were in, I gave him a big "sshhush" and let him fly in to bring the ewes back out, then run out after them and do it again. I was glad to see he became more keen through the process and I'll likely stay with this type of exercise for a while.

The BorderSmith SheepShot PelletPick ConTest has begun over at my BorderSmith blog and will run for 2 weeks. Please visit my Blog, make your best guess, and good luck to you!

Apr 19, 2009

Week 22

Star made good progress on sheep this week, and just as important, he retained his lessons from day to day so that we could build on them. By week's end, he was performing little gathers, balancing the fetch nicely and calling off with "that'll do."

This week's lessons:

  1. Clean flank

  2. The "bubble"

  3. Keeping it together

  4. Using your God-given talent

Here's an excerpt:

Star showed me new confidence today and when I practiced his flanks, he did so with greater speed and enthusiasm, while staying off his sheep at a nice distance. When I flank him come-bye, he goes to balance then defaults to away-to-me to recover if the sheep pass me, so we continued to do almost everything come-bye today and I used a new exercise. I walked counter-clockwise with my body against a fence, the sheep to my left and Star to their left. This way, to head the sheep and stop them from passing me, he had to choose to flank come-bye, and he did so willingly. Interestingly, if I came off the fence at all he would flank all the way around away-to-me to stop them. Clearly though the exercise helped him and in the second session he was more willing to go whichever direction was more appropriate to hold sheep to me without any pressure from me.

Next week I will be introducing a new member of the BorderSmith pack and another contest! This contest will be a little messy, but worth it. I traded wool from shearing my sheep to a crafts store in town and got a gorgeous, ceramic wall haning, which I will ship for free to the first prize winner. Second place will receive a 6 month subscription or renewal to The Real Time Canine.

Apr 12, 2009

Week 21

I began Star's training on stock this week, and boy was he good! Better than I had hoped for even. He balanced, and flanked and even lay down at the appropriate times. He was so good, in fact, that after only 1 day in the round pen, I moved him out to the 3-acre field where he continued to shine.

This week's lesson:
  1. Get sheep!

Here's an excerpt:

As long as I've had Star he has been very keen and brave towards sheep, so I put a long line on him to make sure he didn't hurt my freshly shorn, tender-skinned ewes. It wasn't necessary and I took it off almost immediately. I have never formally introduced him to stock, but he's had access to them through the fence all of his life, so while I left the other dogs kenneled, I took Star to the little field and let him have a look from outside the round pen with the sheep inside. He was absolutely enthralled and left no doubt that he was ready to start. As I led him into the pen, there was no hesitation on his part and he started going away-to-me to balance. That's when I removed the long line as it was apparent he was going to fetch sheep, not eat them. After that it was easy.

Now there are even more reasons to subscribe to The Real Time Canine. So that you can witness each step of Star's development, I will be reporting a daily training diary with each week's post. Please join us now for an in depth look at the genesis of a sheepdog and benefit the Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue and the ASPCA with each 1 year and 6 month subscription. Do you know of someone who would enjoy this digest? The Real Time Canine makes a great gift!

Apr 7, 2009

Week 20

Star went traveling this weekend and spent 3 blissful days at the San Joaquin Valley Border Collie Association Deer Creek Trial in the central California farm town of Porterville. It was his first overnight dog trial and his first time traveling in the 5th wheel RV. He showed his maturity, good manners and good training and he was a pleasure to have on the trip.

This week's lesson:

  1. Dog trialing

Here's an excerpt:

This was only Star's second dog trial, but you would have thought he was an old hand. I was so pleased with him. He showed maturity beyond his months, never made a sound and tolerated all the shuffling, traveling, unfamiliar surroundings and strange dogs with good manners and better sense. All my training came together as he recalled from strange dogs that were running in packs in the mornings, after the trial and in the river. He was intrigued to be sure and even got his hair up some, but he took his lead from my big dogs and when they came when called, he did too. If I wasn't running a dog, he was with me and that's usually the way it is for me at a trial when I'm training a young dog. I am with all the dogs together, running a dog, or I have the youngster beside me on a leash. It is a valuable opportunity to teach and enforce good manners and socialization. Why waste it? I never do.

There is a big event coming next week in The Real Time Canine. Please subscribe today and join us for Star's new beginning.