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.

Oct 29, 2010

Week 98

Photo credit: Jan Elliott
We have 3 or 4 trials coming up in the next few months, so there is lots of training going on around here. I have also had a dog in for training, which is highly motivational, and gets me out in the big field more often. All of it means that Star man has been receiving lots of attention and benefitting mightily. At just 2 years old last month, I notice his maturity has increased, and his confidence. It is just what I expected, and right on time from my past experience with other dogs. 2 and 4 years are milestones for a sheepdog's maturation, and it almost seems like you get a new dog.

This week's lessons:
  1. Precision
  2. Hold it!
  3. Be the dog
Here's an excerpt:

Shedding breakthrough today! Yeah! I don't know whether it will persist, but for the first time Star took the initiative and made a strong showing of holding shed off sheep that wanted to break back over him. The first time, he reached up and grabbed a jowl, but lost her. The second time he simply flanked and covered the ewe before she got past him, which is my preference and highly desirable. Both times were unbidden by me, and I was thrilled. We completed a few more sheds and I again ran to the heads of the shed sheep, simply to reinforce his confidence and remove the pressure of him having to do all the work by himself. What a good dog!

It was my intention to load up for the big field, but fatigue got the better of me, and we worked in the small field at home. Small gathers, reverse flanks on the fly, and widening the off-balance flanks on the fetch and drive were what we worked on today. In case you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, reverse flanks on the fly means I give the dog a flank while I am standing with the sheep, then give a flank for the opposite direction while the dog is still moving. Not only should the reversal be immediate, but it should be square, and this is a good chance to make sure a dog is flanking freely and listening. Star was. He is really good at it. To keep him pliable, I also sent him to gather, then stopped him and reversed his direction of travel a few times on the way out. Another great way to make sure he's listening and compliant, and again, he was.

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