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.

Apr 25, 2010

Week 75

Shedding. Star and I have returned to shedding 101, and there was marked improvement this week. With less and less hesitation, little Star man began to understand the task at hand, and successfully shed off, held and fetched sheep to me. It should't be long now, and I will be able to run him in open.

This week's lessons:
  1. Wait right there
  2. Follow me
  3. And here's the reason

Here's an excerpt:

Ah...improvement. Today Star not only came through more readily, but managed to keep the two groups split on one occasion and fetch quite a ways before I laid him down and let him re-gather all the sheep. Star did some really nice work for me. One mistake I see hands make is expecting their young dogs to hold the shed for too long when training it. The shorter each individual exercise, the less pressure, and less opportunity for error. In the beginning, I only expected Star to come through the hole in whatever manner. Then straight to me. Then I asked him to come in facing the right group. Then come through and lay down in the middle. So today, after he did all that, and had a nice fetch going, I quit while we were ahead. In other words while he was absolutely right, and before something could go wrong like the sheep breaking over top of him, or one hanging back.

Apr 18, 2010

Week 74

With friends at the Sheepdog statue in Meeker, Colorado

This was a busy week here at BorderSmith Stockdogs, but not much went on in the way of dog training. I am writing, instead, about one of my favorite aspects of trialing; camaraderie. Enjoy, and thank you for checking in on us.

Here is an excerpt:

Some of the smallest suggestions have resonated the most within me. At Meeker one year, I asked a hand why the dog on course had gripped off after the drive-away panel where things were relatively easy compared to what they had been on the way there. "Because he was too busy before," came the insightful reply. "I want to be able to drive a straight line," I lamented to a brilliant handler. I was told to simply shorten my "there" whistle. That's all there was to it, and my handling was transformed. While watching others struggle in the shed ring, an uncontested master of our sport commented to me; "nobody just goes in and takes the shed out here, do they?" To this day I never fail to hear those words while shedding and singling. The subtleties have had the greatest influence.

Apr 13, 2010

Week 73

I was gone to the Deer Creek Trial in Porterville, CA over the weekend, and had a great time as usual. The trial is held in a cow pasture running between 2 shallow, slow-moving creeks. The dogs work, then the dogs play as shown in the photo. My dogs were successful, I had a lot of fun, and Star learned volumes about big, scary range ewes running in the nursery and pro-novice.

Here's an excerpt:

The rain threatened sincerely on Monday, but I entered Star in the pro-novice anyway. He was getting good mileage on bad sheep, and that's not something I can duplicate at home. Just as I sent him off, the heavens opened and the rain came down. I had to shield my face to be able to see down field. I never blew a whistle to Star until well after the lift. His outwork was gorgeous, and right on target. He came on a little strong at the lift, and had them running by the time we missed the fetch panels. That was OK, I steadied him and tried a come-bye flank. He gave ground, and I had to resort to my flank, walk-up, "come on" from the day before. The sheep were as determined to break around the post as I had seen them all weekend long, and Star did a grand job of stopping and sending them on their way. It was pretty to watch that stylish young dog work so hard and take charge.

Apr 5, 2010

Week 72

Introducing something new in training is always fun and exciting. It's nice when you have the right tools to do the job properly, but I don't have enough sheep to easily teach Star to shed. I have begun that task anyway.

This week's lessons:
  1. Shedding 101
  2. Oh yes you can
  3. All fun

Here's an excerpt:

This might be slow and painful. Little Star man has a strong (very strong) inclination to keep things together, and I don't have near enough sheep to do this properly. "This" being, teach him to shed. But here is what it looked like today. I backed up to the fence and put the sheep between Star and I. I have 1 high-headed, Suffolk-cross ewe that likes to lead the way, and I let her lead. I then stopped as many of the Dorper lambs as I could and tried to get Star to come into the tiny space resembling a hole. Nothing doing. He just laid there eyeing both groups determinedly before finally saying "to hell with it" and flanking around to put them back together. That's OK. I could tell he at least thought about it for about a mili-second, before flying off to do what in his mind was surely the right thing. And, make no mistake about it, it is the right thing to do 99.9% of the time. At this point, no matter what he does, I will absolutely NOT correct him, be upset with him in any way, or even show the slightest irritation. Right or wrong, whatever he does, he will get praise just for being ready.