With all the predators that chicken's could be threatened by, dogs seem to be the number one issue among my friends that raise chickens. Neighbor dogs and random at large or stray dogs, as well as your own dog(s), can be a major problem for those raising any type of livestock animal. Emotions begin taking over once you find one of your animals has been killed by a predator. The anger of seeing one of your beloved pets or animals brutally killed is enough for most to grab for the gun and head out. However, before you go seeking revenge and shedding blood for blood, there are other options that may just work.
IF THE DOG IS NOT OWNED BY YOU
*Take pictures/video of the scene. If the dog is still on your property, obviously make sure your other animals are contained as to not lose any more lives, and then get evidence.
*Call your Sheriff's Department and/or animal control. If you don't want the dog picked up, simply ask for the laws on the situation. Having knowledge of your legal rights is important.
*If you know the owner, go to their home (if it is safe to do so) or call them, and speak openly and honestly with them. Let them know, kindly and calmly that you will not tolerate this. If they refuse to believe you, show them the proof. Inform them of your right as a livestock owner and the laws, and let them know that if the dog is seen loose on your property again, you will call the Animal control/police, or if need be, you will use lethal force. Make sure to be courteous, inform them that this is not something you want to do, but that you won't allow your animals to be in harms way.
*Enforce your property better as to protect your livestock. You will always have someone who has a loose dog, by accident or neglectfully so. It is better to be as prepared as possible than to loose your animals.
*If the dog is seen loose again, even if it is not on your property, call the police/animal control immediately. The owner will have to pay a fine to pick up their dog. Stay consistent with this, as eventually they will tire of being irresponsible owners (hopefully).
*If the dog kills a second time, press charges. Use the law to the full extent.
*If the dog is a stray, call your local animal control or find a rescue who can help catch and take in the dog. If there are no rescues/animal control, spread the word and maybe a dog lover will offer their help. Post an add online even.
Remember, the battle is not YOU VS. DOG, it is YOU VS. OWNER. Killing the dog for being a dog should not be your first choice. The fact of the matter is, the owner will most likely replace the dog and the cycle will begin again. Hitting them where it hurts (pockets) is going to enforce change the easiest way possible.
A few non-lethal items you can have on hand to keep you and your animals safe:
*Pepper spray/mace- Can be useful if used properly.
*Blow Horn- May startle the dog, even at a distance.
*Break Stick- This is a useful tool with bulldog breeds who grip and hold, but can be used on any breed.
*Paint Gun- Self Explanatory.
*Catch Pole- This is for a serial offender offender or probably a dedicated animal keeper. You can catch the dog and take it to a rescue, shelter, back to the owner, etc.
Remember, to check your local and state laws. Some of the above may be considered illegal or there may be no law in place. However, you may have more rights than stated above. It is very important to always check with your police department or animal control. The above items are recommended for PROPER and NON LETHAL use. Always use common sense and clear judgment when dealing with a dog who is attacking or who is acting aggressively. You could be injured if you startle, approach, or grab a dog. You could also invoke an aggressive response if you use one of the tools above. Again, use your own judgment or contact a professional.
IF YOU OWN THE DOG
If you own a dog who has just attacked, killed, or injured a chicken or other livestock animal that you also own, contain the dog immediately so the dog can not access the livestock. Give yourself a few days to think clearly and to calm down. Our first reaction when our own pet kills something, is usually to think they are killing machines who must be put down. This decision should never be taken lightly or made hastily. I have been in this situation a couple times in my life, and the first two times I immediately wanted the dog gone or put down. I lost a cat and the second time a chicken. I gave myself a week to make a decision. The dogs who did these deeds are still alive today, though one is now in a new home.
Something that we humans often forget is that dogs are predators. All dogs have prey drive. Some have a very low prey drive, making the owner's life much easier if they own small animals. Some have an extremely high prey drive, to the point of being uncontrollable and eventually killing an animal.
When you get a dog you are always taking a chance on temperament, behavior, genetics, etc. Regardless of breed, any dog can be a chicken killer. Regardless of breed, any dog can be a chicken guardian or at least live contently with chickens.
Living with a dog who has killed an animal or who has a high prey drive can be difficult if done incorrectly. It can also make the offending dog's life miserable. To avoid having to rehome or euthanize your dog here are some ideas.
*Build an outdoor dog kennel/run/pen. The best kennel/run I have ever built was made out of Cattle/Horse Panels. It was nearly indestructible and escape proof. You can use T-Posts or Wooden Posts to stabilize the pen. You may have to stack two panels one on top of the other, or cut the panels in half and set the panels up vertically (4' wide x 8' tall). Either way, you will have a beautiful and safe dog kennel. For more on building this type of kennel please visit http://wolfdogproject.com/fencing.html . I built a 24' x 24' x 5' dog run for around $200. You can really make it as big or as small as you want, but if this is going to be the main source of living besides being in the home, I would make it as large as possible. IF your chickens or small livestock/poultry can go into the kennel, you may need to run 6' chain-link fencing around the inside of the kennel. You can get a 50' x 6' roll for $80 or use a welded wire roll, which may save you money.
*Exercise your dog, compete in fun activities with friends or as a pass time with your dog, there are plenty of fun dog competition activities to choose from fly ball to weight pulling. Play with your dog in his kennel, go on long walks, and love your dog. Just because your dog can not tolerate being around chickens or livestock, does not mean he should be condemned in a prison for the rest of his life. He still loves you and needs attention from you.
*Try and work with your dog, train your dog, and socialize your dog around the animals he has issues with. This takes patience and dedication as well as safety precautions. You must work with your dog on basic obedience before beginning this task. This will make training certain commands such as "leave it" easier to work on as well as it will help stimulate your dog's mind.
*Contact a local trainer or behaviorist to help guide you on your way to controlling your dog's prey drive.
*E-Collar also know as Electric Collar, can be used in the worst case scenario. Always research the proper way to use the device BEFORE trying it. You can make the situation worse or even dangerous if you use it incorrectly.
*If you do not want to keep the dog, find him a good home where no small animals will be living. Call rescues and shelter's in your area. Post ads online and locally. Be honest on the reasons for rehoming.
I suggest before starting on any path that you hire a dog trainer/behaviorist to help you learn the correct ways in dealing with your dog's prey drive. Ultimately it is your decision on what you decide to do with your dog. This is simply an article to help you understand all the options available.
IF YOU OWN A DOG WHO KILLS SOMEONE ELSES CHICKENS/LIVESTOCK
When you are the owner of a dog who kills someone else's livestock (or pets for that matter!), please understand that you are the only one to blame. Maybe that sounds harsh. It may be an accident, maybe your dog chewed through his kennel, or someone left the yard gate open. Maybe your dog has never left your property in his whole life before. He could even be a graduate of a Canine Good Citizen Class. However, no dog owner should rely on any animal to "stay in his yard" or "never run off". Dog owner's hold a great amount of responsibility to contain their dogs on their property. This is not only to ensure the safety of other pets, livestock, and people, but also to ensure that your dog stays safe from harm as well.
If your dog kills, attacks, or damages property/pets/livestock, here are some tips for dealing with the situation.
*First, if you have not been approached by the owner of the injured or killed livestock, go over to the livestock owner's home or call the livestock owner and apologize & offer to pay for all damage caused. Not only will this help your relationship with your neighbor/owner of the injured livestock, but it is just the right thing to do.
*If you allow your dog to run loose on your property, it is time to re-think this arrangement. If your dog broke out of a kennel or got off his tie out, this applies also. You can easily and cheaply fence in your entire yard or build a kennel using Cattle/Horse Panels, T-Posts or lumber, and some wire. You can find more on building any size escape proof kennel in the section "IF YOU OWN THE DOG".
*Consider training your dog in obedience and especially the "leave it" command. If your dog should get loose again, your neighbor/livestock owner may have an easier time deterring your dog from attacking livestock or stopping more attacks.
*Keep in mind that under most laws a livestock owner has the right to use lethal force and is being generous for not doing so on the first accident. Try your hardest to ensure that your dog is contained at all times.