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.

Nov 30, 2009

Week 54

I am continuing to improve Star's outruns in the big field. Exhibiting confidence issues, he still turns in or stops to look at me if he loses sight of his sheep while running out. At 13 months, it is no big deal and I am happy to report that he will take a re-direct without hesitation, which exhibits his confidence in me at least.

This week's lessons:
  1. Wider and deeper
  2. Away-to-me revisited
  3. Some things are just easy

Here's an excerpt:

We worked today on the away-to-me outrun. I haven't been doing much of it because it was to the left where he struggled the most, and so where I hadn't before, today I noticed a tendency to come in flat at the top. I shortened things way up, stood near the sheep and sent him from a hundred yards or so to the away-to-me side. It was my intention to give him a voice correction at the point where he flattens out, but Star man is much smarter than that, and took my presence as a reason to cast out nice and deep. I repeated the exercise and gave him the voice correction anyway, then let him have his sheep on the fetch while I turned my back and walked to the trailer. Star performed the task of loading them with his usual efficiency and off we went.

Nov 23, 2009

Week 53

Introducing Tim! He is the newest addition to my kennel here at BorderSmith and I am thrilled to have him. He is 4 months old and a granson of a former International Supreme Champion, Bobby Henderson's ##Sweep. I have previously raised and trained 2 ##Sweep progeny, and I can not express how excited I am to have another. Star was on injured reserve all week with a puffy ankle, and I laid him off to rest it. He came right again after just a few days and will be back at work next week. In the mean time, please welcome Tim.

Here's an excerpt from this week's Real Time Canine:

Little Timmy is a model citizen and Joy did a great job with him. He understands correction, stays quiet in his kennel, walks on a lead, keeps his feet on the ground, (for the most part,) and has been either under my feet or in my lap since I got him. Anything can happen, and he is as much a gamble as a pup born of questionable heritage. I hope his good breeding will shine through, however, and I will give him every opportunity. I can't believe I have him actually. It's hard to imagine that he even came to be after such a series of twists and turns. They say to let the pup pick you and in a way, Timmy did just that. I picked and chose and looked, listened and watched. I spoke to strangers and friends alike and then all of a sudden, here he is, sleeping peacefully in a crate at my feet. It's right where he belongs, I think

Nov 15, 2009

Week 52-1 year in training video

Almost one year ago today, on November 23, 2008, I traveled to San Diego Airport and collected Kensmuir Star after he was flown to me from Kensmuir Working Stockdogs in River Falls Wisconsin. His training began immediately. At 13 months of age, he is trained to nursery level and entered into his very fist dog trial. For the past year I have kept a weekly journal of his progress, The Real Time Canine, which has been my pleasure to write and provide for my subscribers. I appreciate you more than I can say. Thank you for being such an attentive, supportive and generous audience. In honor of Star's first year I asked my friend, Jan to make a video. I present it here with my deep gratitude for her generous efforts, her time and talent. Please enjoy the results of Star's first year in training.

Nov 10, 2009

Week 51

This was an up and down week for Star and I. I am trying to stretch out the distance on his outruns, and Star is telling me in his way that he is not ready. We had some mis-steps early on, but finished the week in grand style.

This week's lessons:
  1. Follow my lead
  2. Trust me
  3. Learning the way

Here's an excerpt:

I worked Mirk first and left the sheep about 300 yards away, up the hill and settled down in a little dip. Star came off his chain looking for sheep, and not finding them. He had absolutely no idea where to look, worsened by the fact that the sheep and old cover are exactly the same shade of pale. Anticipating that he would cross, I sent him come-bye while being watchful and it didn't take him long to turn in. His odometer is set at about 100 yards and I am working to re-set it. I gave him several stop, re-directs, which he took, but never far enough. He never saw the sheep almost the entire way out, and when he did, it was all over. His tenuous confidence was shaken by then, but relieved to find his sheep, he hit another gear and flew across the mid-line of the outrun to land on the away-to-me side and begin his fetch. OK, so I sent him too far.

Nov 1, 2009

Week 50

Star took some initiative this week and impressed me with his maturity. He demonstrated "feel" at the top of his outrun by gauging flightiness of the sheep on his own without any prompting from me.

This week's lessons:
  1. Turn in, gather up
  2. I can do it on my own
  3. Load 'em

Here's an excerpt:

I noticed a tendency to read his sheep at the top today, and instead of turning in and rushing things, I saw him gather himself up before the lift. I have not stopped or otherwise steadied him on his lift at all, because I suspicion that I will need more dog there than less with him, especially when he gets a first look at range ewes. I have left him completely alone at the top to encourage all the confidence I can, but today it appears that he may develop some feel on his own. Star has never encountered sheep that he cannot move, but sooner than later he is going to encounter sheep that intimidate him, so I am doing everything I can to engender power.