22 month GP chasing my chicks -- get rid of her?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Skinney Chickens, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. Skinney Chickens

    Skinney Chickens Hatching

    Apr 4, 2018
    This is my first time posting, but I am a long time reader - so thank you all, you've helped me already.

    But now I have a specific Q I need help with. I had 21 chickens when there was a dog attack that took 18. I realized then that my double fenced run, and sturdy coop, may not be enough to protect them. A month ago I searched and found a 20 month old Great Pyrenees who was raised around MANY chickens, ducks, and other fowl. She was lacking basic training like; sit, down, off, etc. She has been learning fairly quickly and stopped jumping on me, and sitting on command. I have been keeping her on a leash when I let the chickens free range. She doesn't pay much attention to them. I have been trying to gradually take her off her yard leash during the day so she can be free within the fenced in area. However the last two times I took her off her yard leash and I turned my back she would chase the chickens. No one has been hurt of killed. I have always been close enough to stop her. I have scolded her both times, but I don't know what to do.

    Is this dog still salvageable? Or should I let her go and try with a new one? I have 20 new chicks coming this saturday and I would hate for any of them to be hurt.

    Any help is appreciated.
  2. ronott1

    ronott1 A chicken will always remember the egg

    Mar 31, 2011
    Woodland, CA
    My Coop
    I am not expert but you should be able to work with her
  3. Erin80

    Erin80 Songster

    Apr 16, 2017
    It’s normal. I was able to train my 3 year old Weimaraner that chickens aren’t for him, and he actually became an excellent protector of them. That said, during the training process he did have a chick in his mouth at one point (she went to fly up and he caught her, dropped her immediately when I scolded him, and she wasn’t harmed at all), and he did stand and stare at them, quivering and ready to lunge....but we were always right there and he was always on a leash and not close enough to get anyone if he did lunge.
    I can’t remember how long it took before we tried him off leash around them...but I do know that we were always in the yard when he was off leash until we could totally trust him.
    Eventually he paid zero attention to them and I could easily leave him out there without worrying at all. That was him though....he was a huge pleaser and would do no wrong once he knew what was right. I can’t speak for your dog, or all dogs....but that was my experience with mine
    MROO and ronott1 like this.
  4. mixedbreeds

    mixedbreeds Songster

    I would think you can work with the dog and it will be fine. I have a black lab that retrived ducks, geese hunted pheasants and quail now he guards the chickens. It only took about a month to teach him chickens were chickens not the other birds. It just takes time and working with the dog I had him next to me and would open the coop this was at first he wanted them bad I would hold him back and pet the chickens and just tel him no didn’t take long a out 3 weeks and I let him go in the coop no problem.
  5. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Crowing

    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    Definitely worth working through it. I have a 2 yo Akbash that is wired much like GP. I finally had to admit to myself that she was beyond my knowledge level and we took some obedience classes. Night and day. Some clicker training on a longline with some irresistible treats will go a long way. Having a reliable lgd is indispensable but they do take some work. Getting a few more years on her helps too.
    MROO and ronott1 like this.
  6. KHBaker

    KHBaker Chirping

    Mar 21, 2018
    I agree with the above commenters. I have a 4 year old lab mix who does fairly well, but at first would chase and try to play with the chickens. Thankfully, we've trained him well since he was a puppy, but since the chickens are still new, he's still learning. He doesn't chase often anymore, and knows that when the chickens are out he has to go lay down somewhere else in the yard. This is from a dog who used to catch bats and mice out of the field! I think there's still hope for your GP, and hopefully someday she'll be a great livestock guardian for you :)
    MROO and ronott1 like this.
  7. Skinney Chickens

    Skinney Chickens Hatching

    Apr 4, 2018
    Thank you all for your replies and advice! I am working with Big Lou (my GP) and will be more diligent with the training so no more accidents happen.

    Lou and Sara.JPG
    Folly's place and ronott1 like this.
  8. MROO

    MROO Free Ranging

    Thanks for the specifics on what you did to train your dog. Does anyone else have specific ideas that would help me train our 8 month old chicken-chaser?

    Skye is a mix of border collie and (we think) setter. That's her in my avatar. She came to us at 5 mos as a stray with lots of energy, lots of intelligence, no manners and no common sense. Part of the problem, I know, is simply too much puppy energy and lack of focus. We're working on channeling all of that and wearing her out, but she needs a job. We are hoping that the job can be guarding the chickens, but she thinks the funny little birdies are runaway chew toys.

    Tonight, Skye almost got hold of an escapee, one of our bantam hens. It was all I could do to call her off and get hold of her before she did any physical damage. Luckily, the biddie was small enough to slip out a hole in the siding under the back porch to get away. Unluckily, she got completely away and I couldn't find her. She came marching back about an hour later, loud and proud and giving the world a bad case of "what for!" She seems none the worse for wear from her ordeal.

    That's not the case for Skye. She KNOWS she did something bad, but I'm not sure she understands what it was. She's a smart young dog, so I know we can train her, I just have no idea how or where to begin. She's already started on basic obedience, sit, come, down, stay (for about three and a half seconds!) but she has a really bad case of Puppy ADD.

    I like the suggestion of opening the run and petting the chickens while someone holds the leash and corrects her. My brother suggested shaking a can of pebbles every time she shows unwanted interest in the birds, so we're starting that tomorrow. Any other ideas are welcome and fully encouraged. Thanks ahead of time for anything you can add to help us get things settled down around here.
    ronott1 likes this.
  9. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome Skinney! Training takes time, and she's only been with you for one month. It's still the 'honeymoon', and she's figuring out where she fits into your home. Untrained, and an opinionated independent GP. More time on leash, then a longer leash, then maybe a 'shock collar' as a yet longer leash. And more time. Raised with chickens and ducks is nice, as long as she wasn't busy chasing them, and that's why the previous owners moved her on. You may never find out about this, but just plan on more training!
    Herding dogs do one thing really well; they herd, everyone they can. Chickens don't herd well, but they are lots of fun to chase and catch. Being very very smart, and very energetic, is a tough combination too. Again, lots of training!
    I did retrievers and pointers, and found them easy to convince that the chickens were off limits. Now I'm lazy and have good fencing!
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  10. Dogs chase things that run from them. It is part of being a dog. You need more time with your pooch to teach him, and maybe a coaches whistle will help.

    Dogs should only be trained if and when they are compliant. A dog with too much energy is a poor pupil.
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