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, February 10, 2012

A La Derecha

Translation for the title? On the right. I had an epiphany with Ms. Nell today. She's afraid of being on my right, and it was making it pretty hard to introduce driving.

I've started many dogs that had idiosyncrasies about left and right. Some preferred to flank one direction over the other. Mirk will only jump into the truck from one side. Price will only jump onto a 4-wheeler from the right, but fearing one side of my body was new to me, and it took me a couple weeks to catch on, unfortunately for Nell.

To confirm my suspicion, I put her on a line and walked her on my right. Sure enough, she tried determinedly to move to my left, and I had to hold her in place with the line. She demonstrated behaviour consistent with my hunch, flipping around on the end of the leash when on the right, and trying to beat me in front and get on the left.

In the case of Price and the 4-wheeler, and Mirk, and my truck, I've left it alone. It didn't effect them anywhere else, so, who cares? But introducing Nell to driving was proving impossible, because she would look and move towards me when on my right, turning off from her sheep completely. Sometimes she wouldn't take an away-to-me flank if I was standing too close on her left, and now I understand that was out of discomfort at least, and more probably, fear on her part.

Regardless of age, whenever I've started a dog that was determined to travel only in 1 direction, it's always been easy to remedy. I hoped it would be easy for Nell to overcome her odd phobia. I put her on a line and flanked her around her sheep. I would then lie her down, grab the line, and make her walk away with me on her left. I then turned a clockwise circle to set her up for the next gather, with her remaining on my right, and sent her away-to-me from my feet. Those were some of the best short gathers she's given me, and she seemed to be relaxing.

All this made me wonder what else I'm missing. What else am I asking for and not getting, because my dog needs help? What else am I correcting for that doesn't come from disobedience or the desire to please? Kind-a makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Spot and Nell

Something smells great!
While Tam is on hiatus, these are the dogs I'll be profiling. Nell, on the left is a 2 year old daughter of Macrae's imported Nap, out of a bitch belonging to Vergil Halland, named Dally. My friend, Nancy Penley, bred spot out of her Emma, and by Hobbs. He is a son of Howard's imported Spot, reserve Scottish nursery champion, and sire of many good dogs, including Tommy Wilson's Sly, and US nursery champion, Ross.

What a face!
 At 10 weeks, Spot is learning how to be well mannered, a good traveler and socialized. After a couple weeks, he's learned to keep his feet on the ground, and off me. If he puts a foot on me, I gently shove him aside and give him a bit of a growl. It doesn't take much when I'm 100% consistent, he's smart and caught on quickly.

Watch it!
 Nell hadn't been started at all when I got her. She's quick on her feet and wasn't afraid to take hold of a ewe. She's extremely sensitive to pressure, which makes her easy to train as long as I'm careful. A little goes a long way with Nell, but there's a lot to like about this little dog.

Spot and I are spending lots of time together. I'm fortunate to be able to take him to work where he hangs out in his crate and goes for walks. He has slept outside in a kennel since his first night, but gets plenty of face time in the house every night. I believe the dogs have to have a strong bond with us to be at their best when we work them. We ask a lot, and it's so much easier on both of us when there is love and trust.

I love you Nell...
Same goes for Nell, even thought she belongs to a customer. She's with me for the duration as Caroline has no interest in trialing. Nell's a ruffian, a tom-boy like me, so I understand her. She's an easy dog to love, but very, very skittish. I'm patient, but firm with her, and we stop what we're doing often for a pat and a kind word. Nell came with a lot of tension, but it's subsiding the more I work her, and the longer she's with me.

Here's a video of her after a couple weeks' training.