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Dog - Chicken Predators - How To Protect Your Chickens From Dogs

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General Information

 

Ask any farm or poultry breeder and he will tell you, without hesitation, that dogs and chickens don’t naturally mix. Unless trained to recognize the chickens in a barn, dogs are generally considered predators.

 

Dogs, whether domestic or feral, descended from gray wolves nearly 15,000 years back and are part of the Canidae family of mammals in the order Carnivora. They have about the same instinctive predatory traits of a fox, wolf, and raccoon. Dogs come in various breeds and sub-species with varying sizes, attributes and abilities. But as predators and scavengers, they generally share the same powerful muscles and cardiovascular system that give them agile sprinting ability to hunt their prey.

 

Range

 

Stray dogs and pet dogs can be found nearly anywhere. Where are human human settlements, you will find dogs. Terriers, pointers, retrievers and hounds, in particular, can present as a problem to your chickens especially if they are trained as game dogs and hunt for foxes and other animals. Guard dogs and small dogs cannot be trusted around fowl unless they are trained. When it comes to agility, chickens are often no match for a dog who is stalking them, except possibly the smallest breeds. 

 

Method of kill

 

Considered as apex predators, which mean they are generally at the top of the food chain, dogs are carnivores who like to eat protein-rich food. They are known to attack roosters, hens, and their chicks leaving only a bloodied mess of feathers. Some dogs may not eat chickens, but will target chicks or their eggs. Other dogs are known to simply bark a lot, chase, scare, or “harass” your chickens. Chickens are easily frightened. They may even die from shock. Egg-laying hens, on the other hand, can be so traumatised by an encounter with a playful dog that they can lose their egg-laying abilities for months.

 

Prevention and Treatment

 

If you are near a neighbor who has a pet dog, you may want to do a friendly visit to advise the neighbor that you are nurturing chickens in your farm or backyard. If it strays and does damage to your fowl, you can agree on a form of compensation before it happens. Your own dog is also a potential predator, but could be trained to leave chickens alone. Failing that it should be kept away from the flock and the flock should be fenced in securely. Dogs can also be trained as livestock guardians who will protect your flock from predators, such as other dogs.

 

Worst case scenario, if you had a dog attack your chickens, it pays to know a competent vet near you whom you can trust to help you with maintaining the health of your chickens. (See a relevant thread on the subject.) It also helps to have a first aid kit handy in case of dog attack or any other injury.

 

For more discussions on dogs as chicken predators and how to deal with them see the Predators and Pests section of the forum.

Comments (3)

Family dogs can usually be trained to accept another animal into "their pack" - so to speak, or their family. Of course, the biggest issue is usually with animals small enough to be the dog's natural pray item - such as rats, squirrels and rabbits, but of course, also birds - as we know retrievers and pointers were bred specifically as bird dogs. Because dogs, i.e. domestic wolves, are pack oriented, they will pay attention to the alpha - which should be YOU - and if you lay down the law, they usually listen. A great way to direct their prey drive away from your critters is to supervise interaction where the dog can't harm the chickens, and to reward the dog from ignoring the chickens - often with treats or praise - and try not to give your dog the chance to screw up and take matters into their own hands - they are, after all, predatorial animals. I have a pit-pointer mix whose prey drive is VERY high, especially toward rodents - and yet, we have two guinea pigs in an open pen inside the house - my dog could easily just snatch them out of their pen - easy - but he leaves them alone completely due to my instruction - and I would imagine that this would work the same for outside pets - especially if the dog was introduced to the critters INSIDE the home - where they are used to everything alive inside being part of the "pack".
I'm sorry, but we've had chickens & dogs of all breeds for generations, even wolf crosses and the only way to get it through their heads is: you, some chickens, and the dog, inside a small pen with a decent size stick. Every time he goes after them, wack & yell NO, it will only take twice or three times with a hard headed dog, but they GET IT!
This method had never failed us, the dog needs imediate negative reinforcement to stop his predatory action, if you want to give him a treat for not looking at them or going after them, afterwards, then do so.
We used to have sled dog teams, and one dog was horrible, he would get loose and slaughter all the chickens, then bury them. After we used this method, he would allow them to eat with him out of his pan, he never eyeballed them, he would only ignore, that's what you want. He was a great and powerful dog, but just needed to know, going after chickens was unacceptable....
I agree with the above to comments. I am a dog trainer and most all dogs can be trained to live with chickens. The main thing is they almost all will require training if they have any drive whatsoever. I have a website and a FB page that talks about and I plan on adding videos of me training dogs to live with chickens. www.LayingHensAndCanineFriends.com
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