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.

Jul 26, 2010

Week 88

It was a beatiful week here at BorderSmith Kennels. Each day that I worked the dogs, the weather cooperated beautifully. We had overcast skies, cool breezes, and low temperatures. The dogs made the most of the favorable weather, and everyone worked well.

This week's lessons:
  1. That was just a little wide
  2. Another set-out dog?
  3. An excitable boy
Here's an excerpt:

To keen him up on the shed, I went back to crossing in front of him when he came through the hole, turning each shed into a fetch. I have been calling him straight through to my feet, and while he complies happily enough, I am missing the speed and confidence that is required to be highly effective in the shed ring. He responded well to that regression, and was coming through faster each time. He knows the job, and anticipates what is coming when a I set up a shed. He simply needs to enjoy it more, and we achieved that today. He looked good. To finish the day, for fun, and because I can, I used Star and Price together again to gather and load the sheep. I sent Star first, away-to-me, and seconds later Price, come-bye. Star is faster and got there first. In youth, Price would glide across the ground as fast and keen as any dog I've ever seen. His footfalls are heavier now, his breathing labored, but he is still as keen as ever. I do not know how much longer I have to enjoy my big, white-headed dog, but I plan to make the most of it.

Jul 18, 2010

Week 87

I had lots and lots of good work from all my dogs this week. I pushed Star as far as I could and he was up to the challenge, getting better all the time.

This week's lessons:
  1. Your trust
  2. My trust
  3. Teamwork
Here's an excerpt:

As we walked from the truck today, I told him to "look" and pointed in the direction of the sheep. He scanned the field without spotting them, but when his head swiveled in the correct direction, I sent him with a shush. Uncharacteristically, he became unsure, and about 100 yards away, slowed and looked back to me. I gave him another shush, and this time there was no reservation. I watched him as he pulled in and widened out once or twice. Then he pulled in just about to the point where I started thinking about him crossing between me and the sheep, and that's when it hit me. He is mature and well-trained enough to trust that there are always sheep out there when I send him. I need to return the favor. "Trust your dog." Those words were said to me at a trial once after I had given Mirk an unnecessary re-direct that cost us a few placings. I lowered my whistle. At about the same time, Star spotted his sheep, kicked himself out, and finished right where he was supposed to.

Jul 11, 2010

Week 86

It was a big week here at BorderSmith, literally and figuratively. Star worked big, in the big field, over big distance, and my new pup, Jed arrived. Star worked beautifully over ever-increasing distance, and little Jed is settling in nicely. More on that later.

This week's lessons:
  1. What's a set out dog?
  2. Oops, I am so sorry
  3. Could use a little help here
Here's an excerpt:

There is a line of brush that intersects the field where a wash prevents planting. Mirk always wants to find a way around it, but Star ran through it like a football player busting the "go team" banner at homecoming. Watching him, that's just how I felt, "go Star!" Without seeing his sheep, he went out with faith on my "shush." His trajectory was good on the come-bye side, but I decided to re-direct him, just to make sure I could. He took it like a champ, widening without missing a step to continue on in style. He landed nice and deep at the top, and then it happened, just what I had been hoping for. Unaccustomed to the set-out dog we had today, Star lifted his sheep then went over for a sniff! Afterward, my friend, Llona, who was holding sheep for me said that he gave the "oops, I'm so sorry, please excuse me" expression when I hollered. I could see for myself that he immediately returned to his sheep. I could have prevented it with a walk up whistle, but he would have learned nothing. Better to let him make the mistake and correct him for it. I was gratified to see him lift without a hitch the next time up the field.

Jul 8, 2010

Week 85

Oh, it is so nice to back on the big field. My dogs were rusty, and really needed to be stretched out. We worked on big outruns, Star rallied, and it all came back to him as he began to run out easily finding sheep that were hundreds of yards away.

This week's lessons:
  1. Does this look familiar?
  2. Hey, while you're out there
  3. Come on...come on

Here's an excerpt:

Once today, he started beautifully then went too deep. I blew a stop when he got to 12 o'clock, which he took, turning onto his sheep instantly. The sheep were about 500 yards away. Good boy. Another time, the sheep had moved closer and he could see them. He started too tight, but widened out and finished perfectly on balance and nicely off at the top. He has gathering ability that I will always be able to trust. Plus, he is so willing take direction, that I know I'll always be able to guide him. Good boy. Wow, that's 2 "good boys" in one paragraph.

Jul 1, 2010

Week 84

This time last year

This was an up and down week. Started down, then moved up quickly. I have not worked my dogs over big distance in a while, and it showed. Star rallied nicely though, and wound up impressing me...again.

This week's lessons:
  1. No, you're not in trouble
  2. You can't push a rope
  3. Look at that dog go
Here's an excerpt:
He's such a funny dog and sometimes I get awfully tired of cheerleading as I had to today. But then he does something brilliant, like stop on a dime, make a spectacular shed, or take a well-timed, appropriate grip, and I remember that he's not even 2 and growing into himself each time I work him. When things go all hooki-lau at distance, I can either stand flat-footed and scream at my dog, as if that will do any good, or I can bring it all back close, and refresh. Screaming would fail miserably with Star, but I prefer an alternate route with all dogs. Besides, who wants to spend their days standing and screaming?