book on raising dogs around chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by jossome, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. jossome

    jossome Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 1, 2013
    Are there any books that anyone has found to be useful in training a new puppy to behave around chickens?

    thank you!
  2. lilithbunny

    lilithbunny New Egg

    Dec 3, 2013
    In all the books on dog behavior I've read, none specifically address how to raise dogs around chickens. However, I took a few cues from common shepherd practice when training my own puppy to respect the chickens.

    First, the puppy was only allowed in the presence of the adult chickens we had while strictly monitored (and, at first, on lead). Any attempt to chase the chickens resulted in a swift aversive. I started with a can of pennies thrown at the ground, but an e-collar proved to be far more effective. I should note that my dog is the type that has a high-ish chase drive, but a low kill drive (retriever/gun-dog). I wouldn't risk leaving chickens with a high kill-drive dog like a typical terrier.

    After a few weeks of chase-attempt-free monitored interaction, I was comfortable with leaving the dog out with the chickens unsupervised. He stayed out of their way, and generally showed little interest aside from occasionally sneaking a tasty scrap of fruit left unattended.

    Last spring, we got some new chicks since our old biddies went through henopause and we were running out of eggs. This time, I decided to try out the principle of leaving a young great pyrenees out with the lambs, albeit with my mostly-poodle dog and chicks. I kept the brooding box in my workroom and let the puppy watch the chicks whenever I was in there. When I'd pick up the chicks to handle them, the puppy was allowed to sniff the chicks. It was very quickly apparent that he understood the chicks were precious and delicate creatures for him to protect. Much to their chagrin, he'd also try to bathe them. (This was verbally corrected.)

    Now that "the dog's chicks" are grown, he's still quite protective of them and spends most of his time in the yard watching over and chasing away threats such as errant squirrels and wild birds that get too close to the chickens.

    Dogs have an amazing propensity to bond with other species, especially those they grow up with. Otherwise, I'd say the bulk of teaching manners around the chickens is reinforcing the expectation of calm, controlled behavior when chickens are out through positive rewards and social cues. (e.g. treat the puppy when it lies down on command and lets the chickens walk near and leading by example through gentle body language and soft voices near the chickens)

    (Watson at just over 1 year old, chicks are 5 weeks in this pic)
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  3. jossome

    jossome Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 1, 2013
    Awesome! Thank you for the tips!
  4. D Kluck

    D Kluck Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 8, 2013
    East Texas
    we have 2 dogs(Chow and Black Lab) that hang out and protect our chickens.... we got both dogs when they were 6 weeks old pups and immediately introduced them to adult chickens. As they grew up we corrected them when they did anything suspicious toward the chickens.. They are now 6 and 8 years old and both will protect the chickens and baby chicks from anything that gets near the chicken yard....

    I think the main thing is most dogs will take care of your property with very little training if you get them as puppys so they grow up with all the poultry and livestock ...

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