3 yo lab needs 2 B trained - but how?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Jun 11, 2009
South-West Ohio
We recently adopted a 3 yo female lab who is now great friends with our 10 yo lab. Problem is she chases and sniffs to death (or whatever she does) the chickens. She thinks they are fabulous toys. Since its cold here in Ohio, we've tried to bring a chicken into the house for her to smell. Thought we could teach her she wasn't allowed to go near them. She gets so hyper that we can barely control her. If it wasn't so cold, I would sit outside with her on a leash until she settled down. I can imagine it would take awhile but I could read a book. I just wanted to wait until spring....but a Cooper Hawk got one of our pullets just a bit ago and as I ran out to chase it away, Bella got out and "played" with another chicken. Somehow my screaming and crying had no affect. We don't know what to do. She's been with us about 2 months with limited access to the free-ranging chickens. Bella only goes roaming early in the morning or late at night. Not much fun for any of us.
I have a Mountain Fiest and I HAVE to keep him tied up when outside until the chickens are put away for the evening. They are sport to him. Maybe some others have a better idea for you, but I know my dog cannot be trusted- so I have to keep them seperated.
Maybe try exercising her before Yu introduce her to the chickens? That she's nice and calm around them and Yu can reward her when she ignores them if she does.
Yep....she's a Lab! I have a 4 yr. old yellow that I adopted when she was right at 9 months. Never saw such a hyper spaz. She'd go after anything that moved......living or not. Used to chase the chickens until she found out what the wrath of the MOM was. She had one of my girls in her mouth one day and I picked her up by the scruff and gave her he** while opening her jaws to release my girl (who was only scared BTW). It may sound harsh to some, but I didn't hurt her and from that day on she'll point once in a while and rush the fence but hasn't touched even a baby since then. She doesn't even bother them when they squeeze in to her area. She's still hyper at 4, but she listens when I tell her no. I was taught a long time ago with horses that to be effective you need to react right away: that's how animals react in the wild. I'm not saying it'll work for you.....might take several weeks of repetition or may not work at all. At 3 they can be pretty set in their training (or lack of). Good luck!
Hi Kotiya,

The best thing to do is take her out on a long line with a snug fitting prong collar. Wait for her fixate on a chicken, then tell her to come and give her a strong pop on the lead and reel her back into you. Have her sit in front of you and praise like crazy. Release her from the sit with a big "okay". Do 10-15 reps during each lesson, then put her away so she can't have access to the chickens. It'll only take about 20 minutes of your day to do this is if you zip through the repetitions.

After a week to 10 days, take her out with a shock collar and the normal long line with prong collar. Do a few of your previous reps using the long line and then make a big show of unhooking the leash. Release her and when she even looks at a chicken tell her to come. If she comes, have a praise party. If she doesn't, issue a loud verbal "ah-ah!!" and if she comes a praise party, if she doesn't, give her a correction with the shock collar and pat your legs to get her to come to you.

Make sure you're not over stimulating her with too high a correction or she won't be able to think clearly. Don't use too low of a setting or she will ignore it. Wetting their neck thoroughly before putting the shock collar on and fitting it very snugly will ensure your contact points are working. I like to fit it to the SCm ( the long muscle on the side of the neck) instead of against the throat where their loose skin can interfere with the contact points.

The reason you teach them to come before you apply the shock is they know what to do instead. Dogs need to understand what they're supposed to do before they can appropriately respond to a correction. Then they know that the correction is for not complying to the recall and they understand what they are being corrected for.

After awhile you will need only to put the shock collar on and won't even need to turn it on. Then you can eliminate it all together because she will know that chasing chickens is taboo.

I've been training dogs professionally since 1994 and this works. You may have to stay on her and watch her for a couple of months but this should do the trick on a Lab.
i have 2 'dump' dogs, you know, live out in the country and people throw their dogs away- anyway, large dogs- Buddy is a heeler/lab and tinkerbell(MIL named her) is a shepherd mix- what i did with them is tied them out near the chicken run so they got used to seeing them- then after a few weeks began letting the chickens out with them still leashed, if they showed a chase interest i told them no. I only worked with one at a time, the next step i took them out on a leash while the flock and i walked around, eventually when i saw no chase inclination i would let them off the leash while the chickens and i went for walks- it isn't an over nite endevor, i think it took most spring and early summer- but i trust them with the flock now, one runs with them during the day and one runs at night- to keep the predators away- you need to watch her body language, and be there until you know you can trust her- I find our Tinkerbelle actually is more on top of things, i have watched her herd the ducks around the house a couple times till i finally had her stop, the male dog is the lab mix and much more relaxed
Artsy has a good idea.

Dont give up, I have 2 Original Mtn Curs, which are hunting dogs for squirrel,
coon (sometimes known as Tree Dogs) and they have been trained to leave the chickens,
peas, and turkeys alone. My female will watch the young chicks in the brooders
when I have them and will snarl /snap the others to keep them away. They are her babies!

Good luck.
I am so very grateful for the hope you have supplied me just when I needed it! We love this dog, and we love free ranging the chickens and our dogs. You've given me hope that it *can* happen, if I'm patient and work at it. Thank you so much.
I think Jubilee and Artsy both have good advice. It's going to take alot of time, patience, and most of all consistency. You have to work with her EVERY DAY. I have a lab and he's great with the chickens, but he was also introduced to them at 8 weeks of age. It makes a difference. Labs are bird dogs. That does not mean that they are bred to catch and kill them, but they will "retrieve". I've had labs in the past who would catch one, carry it around until it was dead and start over. (I've since built a sturdy, covered run). Good luck.
i didn't start working with mine till they were adults, they had been dumped as pups and basically we kept them in a yard or chain since they love chasing the neighbors cattle- and Buddy had tried to defeather a pullet and killed a cockerel- but last spring we started losing birds, and after talking to folks here i decided to make it work- so even as adults it is possible- here is our 'chicken killing' dog...





i have a pic of tinkerbelle laying with the chickens when i was first working with her, gotta find it...


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