6 Week Old Chicks and Dog

Eggstatic1727

Chirping
Apr 27, 2017
59
27
71
Kansas City
Okay my BackYard Chicken people,
I have a major delema, that is both heartbreaking and frustrating. (Sorry in advanced for the long post)

I have a spunky 8 year old westie terrier that has been around my chicks since week one. He had grown comfortable around them being inside in their brooder but I have made the transition to them being outdoors in their coop now. Which happens to be in my dog's backyard.

My dog loves his backyard, any day he is not able to be out in his backyard is a bad day for him.
I slowly acclimated the chicks to the yard, closely watching the dog and the chicks for a full week. My dog never seemed to have an issue with them, both just really kept to themselves and it was a very cohesive environment. I felt comfortable with my dog in the back with them because I have quite a few neighbors who let their cats roam free.

Me and my husband felt comfortable leaving the dog out with the chicks while they roamed only while we were home, checking up on them every 15-30minute. I got off work one day and went out in the back to say hi to both parties to realize my dog had one of my precious baby chicks, limp, in his mouth.

And let me tell you, I take FULL responsibility for this situation and can't describe enough how heartbreaking that moment was for me. Losing my first chick, it was like a part of myself died right then, and to know it could have been so easily avoided. I can't believe how attached you get after so few weeks of raising them.

I just want to get some thoughts from you guys on how I should go about this situation from here on out. My husband was so crushed he almost threw the dog out who we've raised since he was a pup. He doesn't want to put the chicks in harms way again knowing we can't trust the dog around them anymore. It was natural behavior for my dog so I have an understanding for it, not that I am happy with the dog at the moment.

How many of you let your ladies roam in the yard without supervision? Because now I am afraid of cats and just their overall safety. I feel overbearing protective over them now and don't know how to get rid of that feeling. I only feel comfortable when they are in their coop, but they love to scavenge the yard.

Also will my dog want the chickens even more now that he has a taste of them? Can I teach the dog that the chickens (prey animals, poor things) aren't food? Will I always have to divide their time in the yard between the two of them?

I do apologize for the overload, this situation has been a terrible one, that I wouldn't wish upon my enemies, and any reassurance or advice I can get from people who understand my situation would be so much appreciated.
 

Little Coop on Salt Creek

Songster
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Feb 20, 2016
438
345
207
Southwest Colorado
Oh no! How sad, I'm sorry that happened :hugs
I sympathize with you so much. Our coop/run is just on the other side of our dog yard. We have 2 doxies and a bichon frise. They have gotten used to our 9 and 10 weekers in the run, but one day last week, Coco one of our 9 week old Easter Eggers followed me out of the coop! Oh no! I quickly caught her and put her back in the coop. But, the dogs came unglued at the prospect of "chicks are our friends" coming to close to their yard. I will be much less fearful when the littles are bigger and can hold their own if needed.
 

jennyf

Songster
Apr 24, 2016
440
142
121
Missouri
I'm so sorry for your loss! I'd think a Westie is going to be tough given its a terrier and has been bred for a high prey drive. Is building a run an option? Other than letting them out separately, is the only way you're going to have total peace of mind. We've had chickens for about a year and also have a Lab mix and a Jack Russell mix. The chickens have a dog proof run and also get some free range time when we put the dogs up. I keep trying to find some time to work with the Lab mix, but the JRT is a lost cause with his little "Chase it! Get it! Eat it!" terrier brain...
 

Eps32

Songster
Dec 22, 2015
597
121
116
North Carolina
It's a terrier and I wouldn't trust the dog around ypur chickens anymore without full supervision. Certain dog breeds just don't mesh well with livestock. Not to say they can't just harder to be hundred percent sure. I have a German Shepard that I could leave with my livestock all day I believe and no harm would come to them. But I still don't just incase. Best thing is electric fence and good coop design. And if your dog listens enjoy him and your flock when ypur all togathet to prevent and problems.
 

chickens really

Crazy Mother of Goats
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Sep 8, 2015
62,657
109,168
1,657
The Funny Farm....Alberta, Canada
Hello....

The thing with dogs is real training needs to take place...You were not outside so do not know the reason behind the dog catching and killing the Chicken...?..Possibly excitement and the Chicken ran and the dog was stimulated to chase...
Do not let them all out unsupervised till you know it is safe...
Best wishes...:frow
 

TominWa

Songster
Apr 16, 2017
217
489
136
Montesano Wa.
My Coop
My Coop
I am having the same problem. Big gentle lab who lets cats kids anything crawl all over him. Loves everything. Slided up to the brooder and in an instant had one in his mouth. I don't think he wanted to kill it, just keep it. It was alright. Two weeks later after much talking too the same thing happened. He just snapped and I don't think I will ever be able to trust him around them. I wonder if the instinct is just so strong that there is no getting around it with some dogs. My cats completely ignore them.
 

Eggstatic1727

Chirping
Apr 27, 2017
59
27
71
Kansas City
I'm so sorry for your loss! I'd think a Westie is going to be tough given its a terrier and has been bred for a high prey drive. Is building a run an option? Other than letting them out separately, is the only way you're going to have total peace of mind. We've had chickens for about a year and also have a Lab mix and a Jack Russell mix. The chickens have a dog proof run and also get some free range time when we put the dogs up. I keep trying to find some time to work with the Lab mix, but the JRT is a lost cause with his little "Chase it! Get it! Eat it!" terrier brain...
Thank you for the info, I need to look into building a run. Probably going to be my best option for them.
 

Frazzemrat1

Free Ranging
May 8, 2017
9,338
16,177
697
Eastern Connecticut
Personally, this is one of the reasons my girls will be in a coop with a run, rather than free ranging. I have two dogs; one is a cairn terrier mix and the other is a husky mix. The cairn has caught birds mid flight, and the husky also has a very high prey drive. I don't want to risk my girls, so Unfortunetly, cooped it will be. I'm planning on building a chicken tractor for the days we'll be home and able to monitor, but for now, the dogs will be on their lines when they're outside, and away from the birds, and the birds will be locked up in their coop.
 

Cindy in PA

Crowing
13 Years
Jul 8, 2008
2,799
1,238
421
Fleetwood, PA
I had a lab way back when that had no problem being with my free range chickens after being admonished once. Next had 2 Field Bred Springers. Took awhile for them, as they wanted to play with the chickens & you know what would happen. One used to grab chipmunks & unknowingly kill them, then sit with it next to her head waiting for it to move & play! Eventually the two became good with the guineas (only things I free ranged then) & only had to be reminded from time to time. Present Springer (3 years old) is much too interested in the birds. Not sure if she will ever be good with them. I don't free range anymore & she is never left outside alone, so it is not a problem.
 

TominWa

Songster
Apr 16, 2017
217
489
136
Montesano Wa.
My Coop
My Coop
I had a lab way back when that had no problem being with my free range chickens after being admonished once. Next had 2 Field Bred Springers. Took awhile for them, as they wanted to play with the chickens & you know what would happen. One used to grab chipmunks & unknowingly kill them, then sit with it next to her head waiting for it to move & play! Eventually the two became good with the guineas (only things I free ranged then) & only had to be reminded from time to time. Present Springer (3 years old) is much too interested in the birds. Not sure if she will ever be good with them. I don't free range anymore & she is never left outside alone, so it is not a problem.

Follow up question: Do you think that our lab will behave differently when the chickens are grown. He already now patrols the run like he is protecting them. I wonder if there is a difference between the way they behave with strange little chicks brought home that he hasn't seen before and now, weeks later and grown up chickens....or.....are some dogs just never going to get over it. Same thing here, I think he was trying to take one and keep it, not kill it. He did it twice even after his good "talking too"

It is something to watch the dynamic the chickens have walking up to the big dog on the other side of the fence, no fear of him at all. Dog psychology and all, I just wonder wonder what is going on in his head after a month of watching Dad feed and fuss over them if it isn't getting that they are part of the family now, not something to chase or kill. Its a life and death experiment the first time I put them in the yard with him.
 

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