Any suggestions on training a new pet dog to coexist with our flock?

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Birdie Girl

In the Brooder
9 Years
Aug 4, 2010
I would greatly appreciate any suggestions you all might have on training a new dog to coexist peacefully with our established flock that has enjoyed free ranging privileges up to this point. We have 9 beloved hens and 1 rooster. They have a large coop enclosed inside a 20x15 foot secure deer fencing/pole support pen. They are safe in there and have plenty of roaming room, but it's just not as nice as letting them free range.

We lost our dear family dog, a boxer, to old age in August. She never showed the slightest interest in the hens roaming around her. Yesterday we brought a new dog into the family. She is an amazingly docile pointer/hound mix, about 2 years old, that we got from a rescue. Something about this dear dog spoke to us. I was VERY skeptical because of her breed(s) and their tendencies, but the people fostering her had chickens and said she didn't pay attention to them. Unfortunately, she's paying attention to ours. I'm up to the challenge of working with her, but am feeling a little overwhelmed and unsure of where/how to begin.

Any tips? Thank you!!!
start with keeping the dog confined or on leash at ALL times. Do not give the dog a chance to learn that chasing the birds is fun.

With the dog on leash, start at a great enough distance that the dog just notices the birds. Say "leave it" and reward the dog when he looks at you instead of paying attention to the birds. Keep working at this distance until the dog is reliably ignoring the birds and following your commands

Move a few feet closer and start again. If the dog ignores you and focuses on the birds, back up a few steps and start again.

Repeat this pattern, always with the dog on leash, until you are right next to the birds. If you plan to free range, let the birds out and, with the dog at a distance, work again until the dog is reliable.

Let the dog off leash, but under close supervision. This is where you will really learn if you are going to have to have the dog always leashed/confined when the birds are around. Some dogs have a much higher prey drive and can't be trusted off-leash. The temptation to jump on the little squeeky toys is just too great... Never ever leave your dog unsupervised off-leash or uncontained around the birds.

If the dog DOES kill a bird, pick up the remains. Gripping it firmly, smack yourself violently around the head and neck while screaming "bad owner! Never leave the dog unsupervised"
We trained out puppy to not chase or eat our chickens.We started with her on a leash and let the chickens out to roam around and it was hard for her at first she wanted to chase them but we kept working with her and when a chicken would come close to her and she would start after it we would say NO! and pull on the leash to bring her back.She is a year and half now and does very well,I can let them out if I am outside with her and she follows them around and thats it but I would NEVER leave her alone with them,I`m 95% sure she would not chase them but not 100%
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Love the last line there! : )

This gives me some great advice to start with..thank you! I'm starting to realize how very spoiled we were with our previous dog. We were so hesitant to get a new one, but there's something special about this girl and we took the plunge. Now it's time to get to work!
I absolutely love that last sentence! So appropriate! I get so tired of hearing the things people do to their dogs when the dog has had access to and killed a chicken, or chickens. That sentence sum's it all up in a nutshell doesn't it!
I absolutely love that last sentence! So appropriate! I get so tired of hearing the things people do to their dogs when the dog has had access to and killed a chicken, or chickens. That sentence sum's it all up in a nutshell doesn't it!

Bad owner bad owner!!!!!!!!!! I am dieing over here............ your absolutely right!
I have 4 dogs of my own. I often have a foster or a stray for a few days to a few months. All animals learn the rules real quick. I dont teach them "leave it" I just teach them "NO" We have a bit of an advantage at my house, as we are both dog trainers. So, we look at each dog individually and get it taken care of quickly. and what is really nice is my dog pack will help correct the newbies! I love it.
I have additional trick used with my dogs which in most cases have been hunting breeds. My logic does not consider prey drive to be a bad thing, you just do not want it activated to operate on chickens. The dog can still be used to hunt, even birds (we hunted bobwhite quail and timberdoodles) with same dogs that defended chickens and rest of property including other livestock like hogs and cattle which really did not need it.

Process takes days to weeks depending on dog. I like to wear the dog out hunting or taking a long walk. Then take dog home and begin what dainera suggests. Keep chickens calm, if they are flighty that will excite dog. In past I actually had old roosters in part for process of breaking dogs. Rooster is very calm natured and setup to be kept near where dog spends much of time and eats. Feed them both at same time. If using a free standing pen, place it against wall so dog can not go around pen. This enables rooster to have a little more control over interaction. Sit on ground near rooster in pen and dog while reading a book. Do not get excited yourself. Occasionally offer rooster a bite to eat to entice him near dog. If dog acts inappropriately, then do as dainerra suggested.
Thank you for all of the great advice. We spent the afternoon doing just as many of you suggested and it went really well. Lot's of work to be done still, but at least I feel like we're on the right track and that progress is being made. Tomorrow's another day, and we'll keep up the hard work!

it is very rewarding when you accomplish it!

Centra's point about tiring out the dog is a good one. So is letting them eat "together"

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