And with the dog being 1/2 dalmation, you might have your hands full of more than just trying to train it around chickens. Dalmations are known to be aggresive and tempermental around children.
This is really NOT true. Dals got a bad rap when they were being so badly overbred after the 101 Dalmatians movie, but a lot of those problems are gone now that the fad has mostly passed.
However, dals ARE very energetic dogs. So are English setters. I bet the cross of the two has produced pups with LOTS and LOTS of energy, as well as lots of prey drive.
These guys need something to keep them busy! Toys, training, exercise, runs. The saying is "a tired dog is a good dog". It's true! And when I say "exercise" I don't mean just running around the ranch at will. I mean taking them out and running with them, or biking while they run. I mean throwing a ball for hours at a time. And so on. Remember, a bored dog is a dog that is going to be looking around for something to get into.
Good luck! I personally don't think that you'll ever be able to really be able to trust these dogs with the birds, but giving them lots of work and exercise will at least make it easier for you to control them!
Oh, I forgot -- edited to add, I own a dal and she absolutely ADORES children. The other dals I know are basically the same. The key with children is also training, training, training!
Ah, yes it is true. You may just have been lucky and have a good one. In my years, both before and after the disney fad, I have seen multiple families have issues with Dalmations.
If you haven't had problems, that's great, I commend you. But, this bread is much like a pit, and does have an aggresive side to it and they need to understand that with children around. Especially if it has already been killing chickens.
P.S. Please don't take this the wrong way by any means. I am not here to argue with you or anyone about this. I just get upset about this breed sometimes because I have witnessed the damage it has inflicted to several families first hand and want the poster to just be aware. I know there not all bad, as well as pits, it depends, and I am happy that you have had good results. I apologize if I ruffled any feathers with anyone.
Edited by ChickenTender63 - 11/4/08 at 3:45pm