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.

Dec 27, 2009

Week 58

Star's first dog trial is next weekend and he is entered in the nursery. Am I nervous about it? Nah, he's trained, ready and capable. He's also quite young for such a feat and I have no other expectations for him other than he will learn.

This week's lessons:
  1. I'm right here
  2. Fast and fun
  3. You're a big dog now

Here's an excerpt:

After a rest at the truck, I sent him over the same distance again, and again he began without having seen the sheep. He started very well, but 2/3 of the way out, pulled in sharply and looked back to me. On my stop and re-direct whistle he began again strongly, soon picked up his sheep, kicked himself out and finished well at the top with a light courtesy whistle from me just to make sure. Because he became unsure, I blew that whistle just to let him know that I approved, and give him a confidence boost. Does it bother me that he is still turning in sometimes? Not even a little bit. He's 15 months old and, at this point, if he needs a little help on a 300 yard outrun, I am more than happy to supply it. The difference between the outruns on day 98 and 99 are that today I sent him blindly. It seems that when he can see his sheep from the outset, he is more confident. I will continue to give him a mix of blind and not to keep him challenged and thinking.

Dec 20, 2009

Week 57

Star and I went visiting this week and he had the chance to work fresh sheep in a new field and to lift off other hands and dogs that were holding sheep for us. All new experiences and all in preparation for his first dog trial at month's end. He really took it all in stride and looked like an old hand doing so.

This week's lessons:
  1. Standing out in a crowd
  2. Go ahead and have fun
  3. Quit picking on your little brother

Here's an excerpt:

We went to a friend's place to work today and Star had an opportunity to lift sheep that were being held by other handlers with dogs. Before I sent him on his first outrun, a call came on the radio; "where do you want them?" I answered; "where all the dogs are." Since we will not likely get another chance before the dog trial on January 1 and 2, it was my intention to go from 0, (no one holding sheep,) to 60, (everybody holding sheep,) in one session. Star had to learn some time and there was no time like the present.

Dec 14, 2009

Week 56

As a wee pup in Wisconsin, Star is 2nd from the right
The outrun is coming into place for little Star man and all of a sudden he looks like a big dog to me. He has always handled like a sports car and becomes more precise with age.
This week's lessons:
  1. I will help you
  2. All the way to balance
  3. No one's default

Here's an excerpt:

I had Mirk leave the sheep at the bottom of the hill about 300 yards away and then spent a bit of time making sure Star saw them way down there. He has become very adept at spotting sheep. I sent him away to me and he cast out brilliantly with good, strong pace and disappeared down the hill. He popped up again on the next rise and was right on track for a perfect outrun. He disappeared again and apparently lost sight of his sheep, because when he showed up again, he had turned in and was looking back to me for guidance. When he got it, he kicked out and shifted back to high gear. When he was near balance, I remembered this time to give him another away-to-me whistle to make him feel good about himself and let him know he was doing well. He interpreted it correctly, overflanked a little, then came on for a nice lift.

Dec 6, 2009

Week 55

All of a sudden I have 6 dogs in my kennel and I have a lot of chores to do. 3 of them are actively in training and then there is semi-retired Price, young Tim, the new kid, and little Dexie, the min pin, who really doesn't count. I am sending Star on ever longer outruns now with his at-hand work fully developed. As the distance grows longer, the holes begin to show up and Star man is overcoming them 1 at a time.

This week's lessons:
  1. Over flanking is better than stopping short
  2. Your body doesn't lie
  3. What I'm talking about

Here's an excerpt:

We worked again on getting him deeper at the top of his away-to-me outrun. The first time I sent him, he flattened out, which causes his tail to rise and his gate to become ragged when he comes to balance at an odd angle to the sheep. It is plain to see from his body when he is wrong. This time I stood by the sheep and backed up as he came near balance after speaking to him at the point of his outrun where he flattens. I am still allowing him to turn in and come on to the lift with intention, but noticed that he defaults to a come-bye flank when I steady him with a whistle just after the lift. A quiet "here, here," brings him back on task, but I would like to avoid the default flank all together. We practiced a steady with an immediate "here, here," and after 1 or 2 tries eliminated the default flank on the steady whistle. Back to the outruns. I sent him a few more times with me at the sheep correcting at his "flatten" spot, then tied him in the shade to soak. I was interested to see if he would internalize the lesson and improve. After a short break I sent him away-to-me from my feet and was gratified to see him carry all the way beyond his sheep to finish in a nice arc on balance.