Goal: Training Dog Not to Chase Chickens
It is not luck generally. I have kept dogs around chickens for almost 40 years. Interactions between dogs and chickens were dynamic giving dogs all sorts of stimulation. Most of the dogs have been hunting dogs such as black and tan coonhounds, Dalmatians (companion and hunting use), Irish setters, beagles, border collie and German Short-haired pointer. Some of the hounds where used to hunt foxes. We generally had several adult dogs often in excess of ten. Dog breed is not considered an issue. Our farm also had often all at once cattle, hogs, horses and sheep in addition to chickens. Chickens where used for meat, eggs and as games. The meat birds where free ranged as juveniles sometimes in groups pushing 200 individuals. Game chickens where present year round under a variety of husbandry situations and at locations that would be considered by some to be different farms. Some of the dogs were allowed to roam at all times and patrolled components of farm that where nearly a mile away. A couple also went wherever farm truck went and got out to interact with livestock at each stop. We could not have done this without dogs. Some dogs killed a chicken or two but habit eventually broken in all. Most of the dogs we raised often from our own adults so that made this easier. Here is what I think made this work.
Objective 1: You must have control over dog. It must respond to commands that indicate stop a given behavior.
Objective 2: Frequent and repeated exposure to chickens.
Objective 3: Dog not hyper, wear dog out with vigerous walk / play session. I take mine hunting. Feed dog before session.
Objective 4: Calm chickens. Adult rooster is my first choice.
Objective 5: Calm trainer. Dog and chickens will rile you at times. I like to read a book during majority of a given training session. Dog will see chicken is not your primary interest and chicken does not excite you. Your being excited will excite dog.
Objective 6: Restraint of dog and sometimes chicken during training sessions (initially). Dog on leash and target chicken in pen.
Objective 7: Alternative activities for dog around chickens. Give dog new stimuli; new toys or bones during session. We hunt rats or stalk squirrels. Play fetch.
Objective 8: Rapid and clear reprimand when dog attempts improper activity towards chicken. Praise for proper activities. Do not want praise behavior concentrated on chickens.
Objective 9: Patience! Very seldom will dog be trained with a single session. Process will take many sessions and supervision needed for sometime even after neither party is restrained. Sometimes dog back slides. Dog may even kill a bird but do not give up. Use dead bird as training tool.
Objective 10: If dog to be a livestock guardian dog (LGD), then it is expected for dog to be with flock / cats at all times. At some point you will have to get to point where interactions can be unsupervised. Do this initially so dog does not know you are watching. LGD is my desired endpoint with all my dogs even though in reality most dogs are restrained most of time.
Edited by centrarchid - 5/7/12 at 6:34am