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.

Jun 21, 2010

Week 83

This week was a bit of a mixed bag. We were here and there doing this and that. A little shedding, a little international shedding, a little work in the big field, and lots of rest in the shade. Summer is here after all, and things are heating up.

This week's lessons:
  1. Shed and then shed again
  2. Shed 'em and drive 'em away

  3. The training wheels are off!

Here's an excerpt:

Observation. I am noticing a new maturity about my dog lately that is a new development. At 20 months, and approaching 2 years old, it is to be expected, but I just noticed it today, and I am very glad to see it. Star is beginning to reach his first level of maturity. In the past I have noticed huge differences in my dogs at 2 years old and then again around 4 years old. It seems as if during the first 4 years I have gotten a different dog when each has reached those milestones. On that basis, Star is right on target. He goes about his work with a clearer understanding, less hesitancy, more enthusiasm, and ever-increasing skill.

His shedding has become quite proficient, and today he demonstrated his mastery in fine fashion. I was able to call him through not once or twice, but 3 or 4 times on the same group of 12 sheep, thereby beginning to teach him the international shed. I could see after making 3 or 4 cuts, he became mentally tired. He demonstrated that by slowing and widening unnecessarily on the come-bye flank when I used it to set up the next cut. When I saw that, I called him off and let him rest.

Jun 13, 2010

Week 82

It was hot this week, and we are all having to acclimate once again to the Southern California summer. Working dogs means breaking it up with lots of shade and lots of water. It's going to get worse before it gets better.
This week's lessons:

  1. I know it's hot

  2. Momentum

  3. Lack of momentum
Here's an excerpt:
Instead of giving Star a flank command when sending him on an outrun, I simply set him up on the side I wanted him to go, and gave him a shush. This put the initiative on him to decide from the direction of my body, which way to go, and how wide to run out. It also caused him to look intently, and gauge his distance by feeling the sheep. His success was evidenced by the fact that, after he spotted his sheep, he cast himself out wider and deeper. I set him up on whichever side I wanted him to travel, then told him to "look." I could see that he was using my body as a guide, just as I've taught him, because he looked at me, then for his sheep. I waited until his nose pointed in the correct direction, then gave him a shush, and off he went. Sending him in that manner kept him from squaring off at the start, and running out too wide. Each time I sent him, the sheep were obscured below a low hill, so he was never sure exactly where he was going. He has become quite good at finding sheep, though, and had no trouble today. It was a beautiful thing to see him pick them up, speed up, and cast out to land wide and deep on balance. Lovely.

Jun 8, 2010

Week 81

I would like to introduce you to my friend, Stephanie Summer's online webstore, Operation Sheepdog Herding. Stephanie is a good friend, and a good sheepdog handler who has created this store where sheepdog enthusiasts and all dog owners can find just what they're looking for in one convenient location. Please visit Operation Sheepdog Herding, and have a look around with my thanks.

This week's lessons:
  1. Staimina
  2. Endurance
  3. Shedding

Here's an excerpt:

A little light came on today during shedding practice. Star shed off all but 3 of the Dorpers, and I could see his interest was peaked when they tried to break back to the others. He never would have been successful on faster sheep, or ones that were trying harder, but he was successful stopping those, and it was good for him to win one. He hesitated a bit when they first tried him, but moved to stop them, found success, and moved again more boldly. This is exactly how Star has learned everything. He is at first hesitant to try new things. Then he finds some small measure of success, and becomes more and more willing as time goes on. He is not the type of dog that I will give up on. Star man needs lots of time, encouragement and patience, but he has shown me enough mettle at different times to make believe in him.