Australian Shepherd chicken chasing …

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by kschaef65, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. kschaef65

    kschaef65 New Egg

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    Nov 18, 2010
    Is expecting an Australian Shepherd to be able to be trained/desensitized to chasing and wanting to kill chickens unrealistic? We have a 7 month old Aussie who is otherwise a really great dog. She loves hanging out with us and is so gentle with kids and meeting new people. But she just goes into the "Red Zone" whenever the chickens flap squawk or run away from her. We don't give her access to the chickens and unfortunately our chickens have had a lot less access to free range in the grass since she has been with us.

    Has anyone else managed to get their Aussie to not chase the chickens? I subscribed to the site StopChickenKillerDogs.com and the guy who does the videos does a great job and it seems to work well for the dogs that he uses in his videos. We have done most of the process several times. It seems as though we would have to repeat that process over and over and over. We have tried it a number of times so far and I wonder if anyone else has had luck breaking the dog from chasing chickens.

    The next option is to get a muzzle that allows her to breathe, eat and so on. And she will just have to wear it when we allow the chickens to free range. She will probably still insist on chasing them but maybe the excitement will eventually run out.

    Just looking to see if anyone has had an Aussie or similar breed like border collie or other herding breed and managed to get them to stop chasing.

    Thanks in advance.

    Kevin
     
  2. dainerra

    dainerra Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 4, 2011
    step 1) don't give her the chance to chase chickens. It's a self-rewarding behavior, so even one time can sit your training back to square 1

    Work on teaching "leave it" Keep her on leash and go to a distance where she first starts to pay attention to the birds. Say "leave it" and give a leash pop. When she looks away from the birds and at you, have a party! Jackpot of treats and loads of praise. Have her do any commands she knows - sit, down, whatever. When she is reliably ignoring the birds at this distance, then move closer.

    NEVER leave her unsupervised with the birds. Even with a muzzle on she can kill them easily. Aussies are very smart high energy dogs; they need a job. How much exercise does she get? How about mental exercise? A tired dog is a good dog. An unexercised, un-worked dog will find ways to entertain themselves.

    There are several good sites on how to train "leave it" and working with chickens and other livestock. BUT it is a long process and takes patience. Some dogs can never be trusted around chickens because they are just too tempting. At 7 months old, she is just a baby and wants to play with those awesome squeaky toys.
     
  3. bloom_ss

    bloom_ss Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a 1 1/2 year old Aussie/Border Collie mix (half Aussie, 1/4 border collie, and 1/4 black lab) and she helps me herd the chickens when I ask her to. If I don't ask for her help she ignores them for the most part. I don't leave her alone with the chickens for long periods of time, but she has never gone after them when I leave her for a few minutes. She prefers chasing a tennis ball or a Frisbee. I think what dainerra said is very good advice. My dog learned the "leave it" command in the training classes I took her to. I think that eventually, with enough patience and training on your part, your dog will do fine with the chickens.
     
  4. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

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    Asking or trying to get a hearding breed to stop chasing is like trying to get your chickens to stop pecking the ground, shouldn't be attempted, why ruin a good dog.
     
  5. discoveregg

    discoveregg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our Aussie, Tucker, is 5 1/2 years old. I started training him by having him watch the hatching eggs in the incubator with me. He was bored..until they started hatching. When they were about a week old, he was allowed to sniff them while I held them. Next, chicks started free ranging at about 5 weeks with a fence between Tucker and the chicks. When he got too excited, I firmly told him "no" and "down", followed by lots of petting for obeying.
    Now we've moved onto 15 acres and he's been great! The chickens are LF - Sussex, Brahmas, and Wheaten Marans. He runs over and sniffs at them, to which they run and cry BAWK BAWK, but then he runs off. I don't agree that herding dogs will chase chickens if they are trained not to. But Your Aussie is still a pup and personally I would wait until he's older to introduce him to the chicks. And as someone above posted - EXCERCISE YOUR AUSSIE first before letting her get anywhere near your chickens.
    [​IMG] Good Luck! I think she'll do fine [​IMG]
     
  6. lexinak

    lexinak New Egg

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    Your Aussie is only 7 months old. She probably can't control herself in ANY situation, let alone one as highly stimulating as exposure to chickens.

    I have a husky/lab mix who is about to turn 1 year old. She only very recently discovered self-control, and I'd imagine most high-energy, excitable breeds are similar. It's not that they're "bad dogs" at all - just that they think it's a super fun game to chase the chickens (or in my case rabbits) because that's what their instincts encourage them to do.

    For now: Work on teaching your puppy that YOU are in charge in all situations, and the chickens (and any other animals) are YOURS. Your pup should either be on a short leash around the chickens or not at all right now. When your pup reliably obeys your commands in a quiet, distraction-free area, start introducing distractions - toys, other people, etc. Only once she's reliable under these circumstances would I let her near your chickens off-leash.
     
  7. dainerra

    dainerra Chillin' With My Peeps

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    agreed Lenix. Singe has been worked with since he came home at 9wks old. He is now allowed around the free-range birds supervised - meaning I am outside and keeping an eye/ear on the situation. He isn't allowed to be alone for even a second though; if I have to run to the barn for some hay, he goes with me. In this situation, I am close enough to yell "leave it" (and grab him if necessary) because sometimes he just can't resist. Edit: forgot to say that Singe is 9mths old.

    Rayden is 8. It's not that I don't trust him alone with the birds, but I don't leave my boys outside alone anyway. They have a doggie door into the fenced yard; otherwise they are in the house. Too many dogs get stolen/lost/poisoned for me to leave them alone. Not to mention that wandering dogs get shot.

    Herding dogs CAN be taught not to chase and it's not cruel. Give them a different job to do and just teach them to ignore the birds. Again, though, some dogs can't be trusted with the birds and in that case you just manage the situation - either separate outdoor time or keep the dog on a leash/long-line when around the birds.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2011
  8. umanduhbree

    umanduhbree Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 6, 2011
    Lacona, IA
    My Aussie, Kenny, is a little over a year old, and he is wonderful with our chickens! He's actually their guardian. We started when they were chicks. He could only go over to the brooder and look if he was calm, any other behavior was corrected with being taken out of the room. Then we taught him leave it with the chicks. Any correct behavior was rewarded with treats and praise, and incorrect behavior was corrected by a noise (a loud ah) and removal from the room.

    It is unrealistic to expect a herding breed to ignore the chickens, especially an aussie who is known to create trouble just for something to do. So we decided why fight nature, let's let it work for us! So we trained Kenny to herd the chickens around. He keeps them in a circle and when one gets loose he herds it back. It has worked really well, we can leave him all day with the birds and they are both happy as can be. NO problems at all. We just taught basic commands, and everytime the birds were in a group together he was rewarded.

    For us the dog that would much rather eat the birds is my husky. She is a hunter and loves to hunt the chickens, but that's where kenny comes in again. He chases her off and then goes back to his charge.

    I think a big part in this is the personality of your dog and the bond you share with them. Also, since yours is a puppy, I'd start with basic obedience commands. Wait and look are the biggest ones. If she can do that while around the chickens then you are making progress. Oh, and it's hard, because aussies are crazy puppies, but they LOVE to work! So find that treat that she will do anything for and you'll have her waiting like a champ in no time. Kenny !!LOVES!! turkey bacon and hamburger. Meat is the way to a dog's heart.

    There are also some good websites about training aussies. I looked at a few before we got Kenny just so I'd be ready.
     
  9. umanduhbree

    umanduhbree Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 6, 2011
    Lacona, IA
    My Aussie, Kenny, is a little over a year old, and he is wonderful with our chickens! He's actually their guardian. We started when they were chicks. He could only go over to the brooder and look if he was calm, any other behavior was corrected with being taken out of the room. Then we taught him leave it with the chicks. Any correct behavior was rewarded with treats and praise, and incorrect behavior was corrected by a noise (a loud ah) and removal from the room.

    It is unrealistic to expect a herding breed to ignore the chickens, especially an aussie who is known to create trouble just for something to do. So we decided why fight nature, let's let it work for us! So we trained Kenny to herd the chickens around. He keeps them in a circle and when one gets loose he herds it back. It has worked really well, we can leave him all day with the birds and they are both happy as can be. NO problems at all. We just taught basic commands, and everytime the birds were in a group together he was rewarded.

    For us the dog that would much rather eat the birds is my husky. She is a hunter and loves to hunt the chickens, but that's where kenny comes in again. He chases her off and then goes back to his charge.

    I think a big part in this is the personality of your dog and the bond you share with them. Also, since yours is a puppy, I'd start with basic obedience commands. Wait and look are the biggest ones. If she can do that while around the chickens then you are making progress. Oh, and it's hard, because aussies are crazy puppies, but they LOVE to work! So find that treat that she will do anything for and you'll have her waiting like a champ in no time. Kenny !!LOVES!! turkey bacon and hamburger. Meat is the way to a dog's heart.

    There are also some good websites about training aussies. I looked at a few before we got Kenny just so I'd be ready.
     
  10. kschaef65

    kschaef65 New Egg

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    Nov 18, 2010
    Thanks everyone for your insightful comments. What I was trying to find out is whether or not a herding breed like this could actually eventually the reasonably calm around the chickens with consistent training. It just seemed like this the one thing that we cannot get her to respond to training consistently because she so easily gets excited. So we will keep at it and I'm sure in time it will work out.

    When we first brought her home she loved to chase the cats. But at first the cats would run from her every time. Now the cats have learned that if they stand up to her and hiss at her and occasionally swat at her that she will back off. So she and the cats have worked it out on their own. They stand up for themselves and don't run and therefore she doesn't chase. I didn't think it would be like this with chickens because the chickens will always run (we need that old mean rooster back now).

    After your comments, I think it is possible to get her to become reasonable with them. We are not trying to get her to be 100% compatible with them I just don't want her grabbing them and plucking feathers or carrying them around the yard as she has done 3 times (when one slipped out, she doesn't have access normally). After your encouragement I believe it is possible. We just need to continue exposing her to them in controlled situations – when feeding the chickens, doing chores etc.

    Everyone says "give her a job" but I'm slightly a loss of what we could do besides exercise like biking or jogging because it's not like we have sheep or something larger that she can really herd and burn off energy.

    I would like to see redirecting this chicken chasing energy towards chasing a ball or frisbee. We have had a little luck doing this when using rewards. I think we will get there with that also.

    AGAIN, EVERYONE THANKS FOR YOUR ADVICE AND ENCOURAGEMENT.
     

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