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.

Feb 22, 2010

Week 66

I have acquired a ram here at BorderSmith kennels to cover my Dorper ewes. He is 1/4 Dorper, 3/4 Cheviot, and very handsome. Star made the proper introductions this week, and got his bluff in early. Working in the big field this week, we had help in the form of a good friend come to work her own dogs. She held sheep for Star who had a test on the lessons of the past few weeks.

This week's lessons:
  1. Show me what you learned
  2. Pass with flying colors
  3. Kick back and chill out

Here's an excerpt:

Making every attempt to tighten him up on his outrun, I set him up to my right, as if I were going to send away-to-me. Then I gave him a walk up and a shush, before blowing a come-bye whistle after about 20 yards, followed by a shush. Where previously he would have squared off and headed for the hills, this time on the come-bye whistle, he bent out looking uphill for the sheep running freely on a nice path. The field is terraced, and as he neared the top of the first one, he pulled in a bit when he lost sight of the sheep. I was happy to see it because at this point I will take too tight over too wide, and he wasn't too tight anyway, but was just pulling in from loss of visual contact. I blew a come-bye re-direct, and again he did not square off, but simply bent out on a nice path to his sheep. Once he regained sight of the sheep, he kicked himself out further, and I blew another soft come-bye whistle to support that decision. He finished nicely on balance at the top and passed the test with an A+.

Feb 14, 2010

Week 65

It is that time of year in Southern California that makes foxtails, rattlesnakes, and brutal summer time heat all worth living through. While the rest of the country is buried under snow and cold, we have warm sunshine, gentle breezes, and loads of green, green grass. Star has become a little unhinged in his work, and instead of continuing down that path, we backed up and started some things over.
This week's lessons:
  1. Be direct.
  2. It's a lot more work that way.
  3. Shedding? What's shedding?

Here's an excerpt:

In the small field, and with shedding on the agenda, I started the day with a few small gathers and some driving. Star continues to grow stronger from shoving my heavy Dorpers around, and commits to some pretty nice work behind them. I noticed a tendency today to slide off to one side or the other, however, instead of staying in place and finding his power. I asked him to drive and stayed within 20 or 30 feet of him giving him a little "hey" when he took a step to either side. The nice thing about Star is the smallest correction garners the biggest benefit, and that tiny, little correction deterred him each time from a mis-directed step causing him to stay true to the line. Just beautiful. A tune up was necessary, but it wasn't a complete engine tear-down, just the quarter turn of a screw.

Feb 7, 2010

Week 64

This was a week of ups and downs for Star and for me. I ended the week feeling a bit like Star looks in this photograph, confused, but hopeful. I returned Timmy to his breeder deciding that it is better to let fate play it's hand, than to keep one that does not fit into my program. Weather and my lingering cold kept Star from doing much in the way of training.

This week's lessons:
  1. It never hurts to look
  2. Don't slow me down
  3. All is well that ends well

Here's an excerpt:

Instead of heading where the sheep were waiting right in the middle of the field, he took off for the farthest reaches of the pasture, checking every nook, and cranny, and corner, and dip. He looked around every boulder and beneath every tree just to be sure I wasn't trying to trick him. The interesting thing about his foray was the fact that he was maneuvering at top speed, never slowing, never hesitating, and never questioning, so I just let him go. Had I thought he was lost, or simply running out too wide, I would have stopped him to help, but it was clear to me that he was playing the game I have so diligently taught him over the last few weeks. He was actively looking for sheep, and in my opinion, running terrain.