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.

Sep 29, 2009

Week 45

A good week all around here at BorderSmith. Allen Mills', Sis, an own daughter of my Price, was 10th at the National Nursery Finals and followed that up with an amazing 3rd place finish in the double lift finals of the open National Finals the same weekend besting 148 of some of the very best dogs in the country. Congratulations to Allen and thanks for doing my old boy proud.

Played out on my far smaller home stage, Star came on nicely and did some good work. He came off adversity one day retaining his lessons and moving beyond them with confidence. Then he got even better as the week progressed.

This week's lessons:
  1. Head's up at the gate
  2. Penning
  3. Squeezed through a tube or shot from a cannon?

Here's an excerpt:

After enthusiastic gathers in each direction, we practiced off-pressure flanks on the fetch, and I reminded him again about handling sheep gently there. I'm thrilled to report that he needed that lesson again, as I much prefer too much dog to too little. Great! I added a little twist today and we practiced penning and flanking at hand. With sheep near the mouth of the pen, Star was a little reluctant to flank, preferring to hold them to me without regard to the angle, or my direction. He certainly wasn't completely unwilling though, and made some very nice moves.

The weather is finally cooling as we move into fall. I am looking forward to leaving the 3 acre field behind and moving to the big field and new challenges that it provides.

Sep 20, 2009

Week 44

Star passed a mile-stone this week. With 60 days of training on sheep under his belt, he has crossed some hurdles and is really starting to come on. He learned a few new lessons this week, and polished his skills as we at last had some cool weather and got back on the big field for a day.

This week's lessons:

  1. Trust me, I know where they are
  2. It's a big ol' world out there
  3. Flanking against all instinct

Here's an excerpt:

At first, he flanked to a point, then tried to reverse instead of going into the tight quarters and tons of pressure from me and the sheep. It only took a bit of encouragement and repeated flank commands from me to get him all the way through, and after that it was easy. Then I made it harder. Once the sheep begin to move away from me from Star's pressure, it's as if he is being squeezed through the hole until he hits a certain point, then shoots out the other side. If he had a thought bubble above his head while doing this, it would read; "Wheeeee!!." There after it became easier to get him to come through, and he did so brilliantly in both directions without the least bit of hesitation. To make it harder, I flanked him through, then stopped him when he was precisely between me and the sheep, and had him drive the ewes away. No problem. Star man was a very good boy today.

Sep 13, 2009

Week 43

Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Star man is 1 year old today and what a nice young dog he has grown into. Needing only practice and polishing, this little dog has come a very long way in a very short time and I am very, very proud of him.

This week's lessons:

  1. The quick step
  2. Don't be fast, be smooth

Here's an excerpt:

Star got stuck in the shade today and was treated accordingly. I went to him, got after him and sent him on his way. The good news is that after driving, flanking inside in both directions in route and being recalled, he came right to me. When he gets to me now, I send him on an outrun without him stopping him before I send, which is very exciting and fun for him. The idea being that he will want to recall off the drive and come to me, because he gets to GET SHEEP! Always fun for a good dog. So now he's running to me in anticipation instead of sulking off to the gate in confusion. It's a never-ending process this youngster training, and I am endlessly balancing correction with progression and fun.

Sep 6, 2009

Week 42

It's Star's birthday this month, and in fact next Sunday he will be 1 year old. This dog has come a very long way in a very short time, and I am thrilled with him. I have asked a great deal of him and he has answered almost every call. Now I have great expectations of him, and it is up to me to help him find those answers as well.

This week's lessons:
  1. You have to do it anyway
  2. I can do it myself
  3. Sheep intimidation 101

Here's an excerpt:

This dog loves to gather, and while I'm still keeping everything small, he lights out with enthusiasm and speed that is a joy for me to see. In my mind's eye I can see him speeding to the top at the Bluegrass and Meeker, swiveling his head and looking the whole way. I took a minute to widen his outrun to the left today, which is still a bit tight midway out, and the unfortunate side effect of that was that he overflanked and gave ground on the come-bye flanks at hand. As Star ages and we move to bigger areas, it will be interesting to see if this resolves itself and I have every reason to believe it will.