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.

Oct 25, 2009

Week 49

More than Star this week, it was I who was learning, or at least being reminded...again. While correcting another dog that was here for lessons, I noticed the effect on Star who was feeling the tension and fairly unhappy. I kenneled him where he felt safe, toned down my efforts and remembered how much intellingence in Border Collies is tempered with sensitivity.

This week's lessons:
  1. Body language
  2. I don't like it when you do that
  3. All is well that ends well

Here is an excerpt:

All is well that ends well and even though Jan's dog started rough, she finished well. By the end of the lesson she was flanking between the fence and the sheep, tucking in the ends and listening beautifully without any desire to chase. I worked Star the next day and he was as keen as ever with no apparent damage done by the tension from the day before. Having said that, I am sure I could create permanent damage if I continued to subject him to tension and going forward I will take precautions to make sure that doesn't happen. I know that my little man is sensitive to pressure and needs encouragement, not intimidation. This week I had a good lesson in that and yet another reminder to be very, very careful with pressure and correction. A little goes a long way with most Border Collies.

Week 48

I had the tremendous pleasure of judging the 2009 Strang Ranch Sheepdog Trial in Carbondale, Colorado. In the heart of the majestic Rocky Mountains and just 20 minutes from Aspen, the scenery was world class, as was the hospitality of the Strang family that has owned this little piece of paradise since the mid-1960s. Professional horse trainer and trial producer, Bridget Strang worked very hard to put on her first-ever sheepdog trial and it went off without a hitch.

Star got a respite while I was away and, together with all the other critters at BorderSmith Kennels, was being cared for by my beautiful daughter, Megan. Thanks honey. He will be back hard at work next week.

Oct 11, 2009

Week 47

This was a busy week for Star. As the date of his very first dog trial approaches, I am ramping up his training and pushing the limits. Star is responding well, and is slowly but surely growing into his power.

This week's lessons:
  1. Tight spaces
  2. How far can you go?
  3. How fast can you run?

Here is an excerpt:

Finally, back to the big field again today on a gorgeous, Southern California Fall day. High clouds, intermittent sunshine, cool breeze, lower temperatures. I downed Star beside the trailer, out of sight of the sheep to get them out, but when I went in to get them, I looked down and there he was glaring at them from the back of the trailer. Back out, downed him again, back in to get them, and there he was again. This is significant, because little Star man is becoming pushy and I'm very glad to be able to report that. Third time was the charm and he stayed put long enough for me to unload the sheep, then flew around to head them and drive them briskly away on my steady and walk up whistles. Initially, I had to encourage him to drive, now I get to steady him sometimes. Good news.

Oct 4, 2009

Week 46

All is right with our world this week and Star is continuing to train up smoothly. As the weather has cooled, I am able to put a little more training pressure on him and our sessions are a little longer now. He is only 1 year old after all, and I am still giving him lots of opportunity to grow, strengthen and mature.

This week's lessons:

  1. Here, not there
  2. Don't be fast, be smooth
  3. Tracking sheep

Here's an excerpt:

"Star was strong and snappy today. He is showing me more confidence every time I work him, which I did today on my quietest whistles. He flanked on the fetch easily and did so while fetching and off the pressure. He took beautiful half-flanks while driving and quietly handled my sheep in whatever manner I asked of him. I sped him up and slowed him down and his gathers were brisk and gorgeous. He was so precise on his flanks while driving and it's a joy to see his precision when I steady him and walk him up. His turns were flawless today, square without giving ground and just on the edge of the pressure where I like it."