Can a dog and chickens safely coexist in a small backyard?

GRB73

Songster
Mar 10, 2016
171
168
131
SE Pennsylvania
So my dilemma is this. I really want to adopt a dog, but I own three pet chickens I am very attached to. I worry that no matter how careful I am, any dog I adopt is going to eventually get loose and eat my chickens. Do you think dog and chicken can coexist in a small backyard? I'd love to hear about other peoples experiences and opinions.

Here's some background on our situation. Our yard is a small, fenced lot (less than .25 acres). My chickens have a good size run, but frequently free-range the backyard when I am around to watch them. The dog I am looking to adopt is a 2 year old beagle. My husband (also very attached to the chickens) tells me to adopt a cat instead, just to be safe. I like cats but I LOVE dogs. Can a dog be trained to tolerate chickens?
 

humblehillsfarm

Crowing
Mar 27, 2020
2,494
4,587
321
Southwestern Pennsylvania
My dog is fine. Shes a doberman. We got chickens when the dobie was 11. However, my friend growing up got a husky as a puppy and it nearly decimated their entire flock. I think I would definitely avoid ANY dog that is a herding dog, hunting dog, or high energy dog. Even with those things in mind, every single dog is different and you just can't trust them right off the bat. It was a year before we started letting the chickens free range with the dog and felt comfortable about it.
 

nuthatched

It's C-O-O-P, not C-O-U-P-E!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 9, 2019
2,017
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Rim Country, Az
My dogs were always great around my chickens! Other people's, not so much.
The chickens would sneak food out of his dish when he raised his head up to chew, never had a problem. However my dogs would try to herd them briefly if they got excited, we always had collies and shepherds.
My dogs were raised with the chickens and vice versa, so I'm not sure how introducing an adult dog would work. I think it would take firm training if it shows interest in them. Then agaib, it may ignore them more or less.
 

Phneyda

Chirping
Nov 6, 2020
81
214
63
Ok, I would’ve said cats are a big no-no until I witnessed the most outrageous community of free range chickens and farm cats in Okiboji, Iowa. The cats and chickens were hanging out together around two dumpsters like moody teenagers. It was weirdly intimidating. I’d never say never with a dog because there are dog breeds that just don’t have the proclivity to hunt or kill...or do much besides being a lap dog like Pekingese. In this weird world, some critters get along under certain conditions and some don’t. Only you can decide if it’s worth trying given that if it doesn’t work out you may end up with dead chickens. Alternatively, the chickens don’t free range when the dog is out and vice-versa?
 

KDOGG331

Sorry I had to move to Alaska
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jan 18, 2008
62,161
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Massachusetts
Like others have already said, it highly depends on the dog but a two year old beagle? I would say NO WAY, sadly. But there are dogs that couldn’t care less about prey but they’re not as common and most will honestly have at least some prey drive. Even the calm dogs usually can’t resist flappy squeaky toys.

Our last dog would run laps around the run at first and jump at the fence but we eventually trained him out of that and he was even able to be out with the chickens with supervision eventually. I don’t think most dogs can be out without supervision, sadly. They can learn to tolerate them when you are there but you will need to separate them when you are not.

One of my brother’s dogs has a very high prey drive and chases and sometimes catches all manner of small, furry things and birds, but he is also very “soft” and handler focused and learned very quickly to ignore the birds the first time I introduced him. I would never trust him loose though. One of their other dogs is very very smart and she remembers that we have chickens so every single time she comes over, she is trying to get to the back even from the second you pull into the driveway without even seeing them. She’s also quite stubborn sometimes and fixates so she is a lot more of a challenge and I don’t think she would ever be safe around them tbh. Although she oddly leaves my parakeets alone and doesn’t have near as high a prey drive. But fixates on chickens.

So it definitely highly depends and some dogs, even if they have the prey drive, can still be managed because they live to please and hate to do any wrong.

If you really want a dog, I would honestly recommend either a calm, slow, senior dog (though even they can come alive with chickens!) or a puppy and introduce properly from the beginning. Also start on leash and possibly with a muzzle. But be prepared that they may never be able to be loose together. It might be best to wait until you have more room to separate if needed. But whatever you do, definitely DO NOT adopt that beagle. Good luck!
 

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