Originally Posted by HEChicken
I have to brag on my little cairn terrier, Dizzy, for a moment. When I went looking for a small companion dog a couple of years ago, I was drawn to terriers but everyone warned me off them, saying they will never be good with poultry - including people on a forum dedicated to cairn terriers! However I decided to take the risk anyway and from the day he arrived here, he has accompanied me to do chicken chores and never once given me a reason to be concerned. He runs among the birds and totally ignores them - and they are not concerned about this presence either. Right now I have a mama turkey in the hoop coop with her poults and from day day one, Dizzy has been absolutely fascinated by them. He will sit outside the hoop coop for hours watching those babies. I started to have concern that his interest was something less than altruistic because I've never seen him this focused on birds before. Last night I was doing chores, came around the corner and saw that Dizzy was standing outside the hoop coop staring at something on the ground. It was one of the poults that had somehow escaped the hoop coop. Dizzy was not only NOT trying to grab it, he seemed to be standing guard over it until I could rescue it. I put down what I was carrying and bent to pick it up but being a mama-raised bird, it of course ran screaming from me - the big, bad predator - and its run took it directly towards Dizzy who pounced and grabbed. I screamed "no" but I should have known to trust him. He wasn't grabbing it to hurt it - he was trying to help me out. He had it very gently pinned and as soon as I reached to take it, he released his hold on it. It was completely unharmed - not even wet. I told Dizzy what a good job he did and he was so pleased to have been of help. I feel like I can relax about his interest in them now. If his goal had been to eat them, that poult would have been dead before I even knew it had escaped the hoop coop.
That's awesome, HeChicken! It's so good to have a dog you can trust! My husband has an old lab (7 or 8 years old - he has hip dysplacia so he acts old). That lab is 125 pounds, and is a dog my husband uses to hunt pheasants, but he knows EXACTLY which birds belong on my property, and he allows them to stay. He and the ducks have a sort of game they play - they each try to take the other's food. The ducks/geese will try to steal the dog's food from under his nose, while the dog will try to sneak into their pen and steal their food - container and all! I started having to disallow him from entering the duck pen because I got tired of playing hide-and-seek with the ducks food bowl, especially when it would decide to snow! The ducks/geese, however, haven't given up on their end of the deal. The big lab will run after them, growling and everything, when they go for his food. Despite his big show, he won't hurt them. The first time he did that, it about gave me a heart attack, though.. He could've killed my gander that first time, but instead only scared me and pretty much tackled the bird. this year is my first year with chickens, and I've been a little more hesitant around him with the chickens because they do look a lot like a pheasant. He's never gone after any of the chickens, though. He's such a smart dog! Even with 25+ new chickens this year, he still knows EXACTLY which birds belong.
My hubby just got a puppy this year (border collie/lab cross), and the puppy is a different story. I recently lost one of my special birds (a speckled sussex I got from danz - and of course the only pullet I had left from her). I am now blaming the puppy. A few days after losing the sussex pullet, I was watching the birds carefully and saw the pup lay down near the birds. Ok, that in itself was no big deal. My appenzeller spitzhauben chicken was nearby and had decided to lay down and start preening. The dog then crouched (kinda reminded me of a lion stalking its prey). When the bird started preening, the pup took off running. The bird looked up and the dog froze. The bird went back to preening, and the dog continued on. That's when I hit the vibrate button on the pup's shock collar. She's a pretty sensitive dog, and the shock setting hasn't been necessary for her. I admit that I probably held onto the vibrate button a little longer than absolutely necessary, but I wanted to be sure the pup got the hint. She ran from the bird, tail tucked between her legs, and I haven't seen her make a move towards the birds since... That doesn't mean I trust her yet though either. She's still WAY too much of a pup (3 months old) to trust around the birds.