Welcome to The Real Time Canine, Part Two
Welcome to part two of The Real Time Canine. In this edition, I will describe the daily life of a Border Collie sheepdog prospect. In weekly posts using words and pictures, I will describe what they learn and how they learn it. Each pup imparts knowledge in their own special way, and through them I will give you insight into how I train a Border Collie Sheepdog from beginning to success.
As with Kensmuir Star in the original Real Time Canine, you will be with us every step of the way as these talented youngsters acquire the confidence, willingness and skills necessary to attain my goal for them to become a useful working sheepdog and successful trial competitor. I hope you will join us and find useful tips and technique on how to train a sheepdog.
After a lifetime with animals, dogs, horses and livestock, I am happy to share my expertise with you. I have found success at 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!
Friday, August 27, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Three way tie
Believe me when I tell you that this is one well-adjusted pup. I am so busy preparing, training and planning for my upcoming trip to Soldier Hollow and Meeker, that little Jed is way back there, on the farthest back burner having to pretty much take care of himself. He doesn't seem any worse for wear, and in fact, doesn't seem to mind at all. He still greets me with his happiest, most wrinkle-nosed smile first thing in the morning, he stills play relentlessly with Star and with Mirk, when Mirk deigns to allow it, and he maintains his happiest to be alive attitude at all times. Other than a house visit in the morning for breakfast, Little Jed is being left to his own devices much of the time, and to tell you the truth, I don't even know he is there. Good little puppy!
- How come?
- Take that!
- I'm not so sure
- A lamb you said?
- Heaven help us
The big dogs are starting to complain now that Jed has gotten big enough to pester them in earnest. Like a midge (Scottish gnat) he was simply annoying before, but things have escalated. Jed certainly learned the hard way who will put up with him, and who will not. Price is the headmaster, and brooks no insolence from anyone, least of all, what is in his eyes, a worthless puppy well beneath his stature. Jed has learned to give Price a tentative try, and leave it at that. Mirk will allow Jed to have a romp, chew on his neck, wallow beneath his chin, and lick him, but he makes it crystal clear when play time is over. So that just leaves Star, who is caught in the "tween" time when he still wants to play often enough, but understands what it means to be hot and tired. Starman receives the most attention from Jed, and that is as it should be.
Like Star, and unlike every puppy I have raised before Jed and Star, Jed is not getting enough socialization. I am a bit of a recluse by nature, I am not trialing much in this economy, and I tend to stay home unless absolutely necessary. Jed does not go to the store, experience places like PetCo, is not around many strangers nearly enough, and it shows. Lately when he has seen strangers, he has demonstrated a bit of caution around them. Not aggression, but hesitancy. With a pat and a cuddle it is easily overcome, and I am confident that caution is not a big part of nature, so I am not concerned about it. I simply have to make a consceintous effort to get Jed out and around more, and I can think of no better way to do that than my upcoming trip. It will be so good for all my dogs, and even more so for me.
Jed's first interest in sheep came one day when a young lamb was gambolling around his pen. The big dogs were fascinated, and I wonder whether it was their attention that got his. Jed and the lamb went nose to nose at the fence, which made we speculate about when he will "turn on," as they say. I have had pups that have done by now, and others that haven't. I have known of a few unfortunates who never became keen on sheep. It does not happen often, but it does. I had dog named Moe that was a half-uncle to Jed who never paid any attention to sheep until he was 6 or 7 months old. And when he did start looking, he did so in a big way. I sold him as a trained nursery dog, and he went on to win the Canadian National Nursery Championship with his new owner. Because Moe and Jed are similarly bred, I would expect their timing to be similar.
Jed has gotten to the rambunctious puppy stage where everything is fair game. My shoes, even when I am wearing them, my pant legs while I am walking, flora and fauna in the dog yard, other dogs, just anything that he can get his mouth on. He was leaping onto furniture in the house, and making it look easy I might add. In other words, he has become this massive jumble of jubiliant puppy energy, so it's a very good thing that I have taught him to listen carefully. Since the first day I got him, I began the process of teaching him to take a correction. At his age, I certainly don't mean a physical (hitting) correction. I mean verbal corrections, so that now I can just give him a growl, and he knows what it means. That doesn't mean that he always or even immediately reacts, but he definitely knows what I mean, and will always refrain from the offending action at some point. When you wait until puppies are at this stage before you teach them what it sounds like when they are breaking a rule, it's too late. It's also much harder on the puppy, because they are now bigger, and wilder without any understanding when you don't approve. So the too-late correction, when given, must be stronger than had you begun earlier in the pup's life. When I take pups as infants I begin teaching them manners on day one. They know no other way, and are easy and pleasurable to train, and it sure makes for a nice dog.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Jed gets his bluff in early
Already little Jed has simply blended in with my pack. He knows his place, has assessed the pecking order, and knows just how far he can push which dogs. He recognizes Price as second-in-command to me, established that Mirk can be pushed so far, and is thrilled that Star likes to run and play too. If you simply leave them to it, dogs assimilate. It is when we, the smarter humans, intervene and impose assumptions, that the problems come up. Our assumptions relate to human behavior afterall, and have nothing to do with what canines do naturally. Humans should set limits of acceptable behavior for our dogs, engender their respect, and then allow them to act like dogs.
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Playing out
- Dog box
- Puppy teeth
I make sure every day that Jed and I spend quality time together. Sometimes it is sitting by me on a leash while I give a lesson. Sometimes I throw a ball for Dexter, and he chases Dexie who chases the ball. Often we just rough house on the grass together. I roll him around, hold him close, scratch his belly, and pet his face. I may just spend time brushing him, but all the activities are designed to create a bond between us, and allow me to understand him better. What kind of dog is he? Is he brave? Wary? Concerned? Athletic? Smart? At some point in the future I will begin to train him on stock, and ask him to do things that go against his nature. The more he trusts me, and understands my ways, the easier and more successful I will be. A little groundwork now will go a long way once we get in the training pen.
So much for a special traveling crate. I have 4 dogs, 5 if you count Dexie, who doesn't really count, but that number of dogs requires a bit of streamlining. This week Jed traveled for the first time in the 3-hole dog box that is bolted in the bed of my truck. Until now, he has been riding in a small crate behind the front seat. I had him there, so I could teach him to ride quietly. I spoke to him, or tapped the crate when he whined or barked and he learned quickly to settle in and ride well. One day last week, I decided it was time to transition him to the back, I popped him in the dog box, and off we went. He rode without making a sound, and waited patiently in there while I worked Mirk and Star in the big field. Afterward the 4 of us went for a walk, and Jed was rewarded for his patience with a long stroll and a romp with the big dogs. My dogs need to become accustomed to change. Once trialing, they are thrust into a myriad of unfamiliar situations and stange places. I can't coddle them, and ease them into new circumstances. They must learn to deal with it on their own, do it well, and on the spot. So, when I give Jed something new, I simply give it to him, expecting him to tolerate whatever I give him. All the groundwork in obedience, good manners and limits of acceptable behavior allow him trust me and easily accept whatever I give him.
Like most of the pups I have raised, Jed likes to bite at my shoes and clothes while walking with me, and I don't like it. He could get stepped on and it's irritating to always be tripping over him, or moving him out of the way. I'm not always wearing clothes that I don't care about when we're together, and any way, sometimes it hurts when he bites my feet or through to the skin. There is no reason why Jed can't walk beside me without taking a bite, so I simply don't allow it. I speak to him when he bites at me, and a time or two I have reached down, tapped him on the nose or shoved him aside. Just like with everything else, I am completely consistent with this, and he has learned quickly enough to keep his teeth to himself.
If you do not give a puppy something to do, he will find something, and it will probably not be to your liking. As you know, I have a dog yard of about a quarter acre below my house. The dogs are loose there together much of the time, and from time to time I throw toys out for the dogs to claim. There are rope toys, chew toys, marrow bones picked clean, tire toys, etc. I am careful to make sure that the dogs don't have access to anything that could hurt them, like balls small enough to become lodged in their throat, and they are never turned out with collars on. Collars can become entangled, or used by other dogs to cause harm. They can twist on a dog's neck and choke them, and I feel better knowing that I have eliminated every hazard possible when my dogs are loose. Jed has toys in his kennel as well to keep him busy at night. And, I change them fairly often to give him a distraction. Unfortunately, he pulls his dog house bedding out in play as well, but the good news is that he is never bored, and has every opportunity to learn how to keep himself contented and quiet.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
This week Jed went visiting, learned a new skill, and become an outside dog in every sense of the phrase. We visited his breeder, Llona for a good day of working dogs at her place where he renewed his friendship and got some love. We were out and about quite a bit on our own turf running errands, taking long walks with all the dogs, and expanding Jed's routines to include a typical day for a big dog.
- Socialization, socialization, socialization
- Quick study
- Be vewy quiet
- Here, here
- One of the boyz
You can't have too many people who love you
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
Making a good impression
Puppies get hurt. It is just a fact of life that, like children, they are clumsy, don't have full control of their limbs, they tangle, and they injure. Jed had what appeared to be an innocent fall this week, I saw it happen, and didn't really think much of it. He was running just in front of me on our way to the barn, when he folded up like an old cardboard box and collapsed in a heap. It did appear that he he hit the left side of his head flat on the ground though, and that is what caused the problem. Within an hour his left eye was all but swollen shut, his inner eyelids were red and irritated, and I started to worry. It was Sunday though, and I really wanted to avoid the emergency room, so I cleaned his eye with a warm, wet cloth and flushed it with saline. When you have as many animals as I do, you keep supplies.
I cleaned and flushed every 4 hours or so, and we made it to Monday and the regular vet. He was due for his 2nd of 3 wormings anyway, so we were able to kill 2 birds with one stone, and his eye was looking much better by the time we got there. The good news is that his cornea was not scratched, and my vet loves him. No bad news.
- The big boy box
- It's time
- Taking turns
- Force fed
- All night long
So well, in fact, that I decided to leave him out for most of the night. As I said before, I maintain my dogs with fairly consistent routines. They know when I feed them each evening, that they are in for the night with only one quick walk right before I turn in. Jed certainly didn't know the routine yet, but there was no time like the present to teach him. I made up his dinner, kibble, flax seed softened overnight in water, and a little wet food, put him and it in his kennel, turned my back and walked away. It was strangely quiet. I expected some racket, but got nothing but blissful silence from little Jedi. He had his dinner, he had his toys, he had his big-dog house with his favorite blanket stuffed inside, and apparently he had contentment, because I never heard from him again. I woke up around 3 in the morning, and put him inside with a bit of kibble in his crate. Just like crating him initially for short periods, I thought it best to treat his kennel the same way.
Tolerance is a virtue, Mirk
The older dogs know when it is not their turn. They know that while I am working another dog, it is only a matter of time before I come for them, and the big dogs I have now know to remain quiet in the interim. Once again, Price can be the exception, but only to the extent that he chews and twists on his tie out chain, and I must kennel him at dog trials when I am running another. What can I say? He is an exceptional dog, so I make exceptions... It is a small price to pay, (no pun intended.) This week little Jedi experienced waiting his turn when I left him in the dog yard while working Star and Mirk just across the street in the practice field. He studied us from inside the fence for a while, then toddled off to find a diversion. That was all there was to that. Now, had he been been noisy about it, I simply would have crated him in the house, because he is way too young to be corrected for desire.
Jed is not a good eater. Nor, I am told, is he growing at the same rate as his brother, who is quite a bit bigger. I like thin, athletic adult dogs, but I like rolly-polly puppies, and Jed is thin and leggy. I feed him 3 or 4 times a day, and pretty much around the clock. For the most part, he cleans up his meals, but it takes him a while. Some handlers subscribe to the regimen of placing food in front of a dog then picking up anything uneaten after 20 minutes. I do not see anything wrong with the technique, but in Jed's case, I am leaving food in front of him for longer periods to make sure he gets enough nourishment. He is not underfed. His eliminations are frequent and in sufficient quantity, I would just like to see him with a big fat puppy belly. Not going to happen. At least not yet.
By the end of the week, Jed was spending every night, all night in his kennel without protest. Once again, it was just me and Dexter sharing the roof over our heads at night, and I think Dexie was glad of it. Ok, Ok, I was too, and got my best sleep in weeks.