can you train a dog to not hurt your chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ccabal, Mar 24, 2014.

  1. ccabal

    ccabal Chirping

    Aug 1, 2013
    Not sure this is the right forum for this question.., but I'll ask it here:

    I have a 60lb shepherd mix dog. She's older, (about 8yrs old) She looks like a fluffy wolf. She is a great dog, but I know she is a hunter. I had seen her catch and kill rats and rabbits that stray into our yard, and always tries to catch the squirrels. I have never let her around my chickens without any protection. My hens stay in their coop/run most of the time, and so my dog is quite familiar with them. But when I let the chickens free-range I always tie her up. Every time she sees them, she licks her chops.
    I wonder if its possible to train a dog to protect rather than kill chickens? Esp. an old dog like this? Has anyone done it, and can give any tips? I would love to let my chickens free range more, but I worry about them wandering close to the tied-up dog, and getting killed because they got too close. They seem pretty ignorant to danger, so I am not sure they'd know better than to stay away from her.
  2. nab58

    nab58 Songster

    Mar 28, 2013
    yes, it's possible, even in an older dog.

    I have 4 dogs, 3 of which wanted to attack my chickens. Like you said, my dogs were used to seeing the chickens in their run. Once they came out though, they wanted to chase them.

    I took one dog at a time on a leash around the chickens and told them "no!" (With a leash correction) if they showed interest in the chickens. After a while, the dog knows it will be corrected when it looks at the chickens. Put your dog in a sit/stay if possible while around the chickens. If you can get that to work, you can let the leash down and stand in the end, correct the dog if it makes an attempt to move towards the birds. Eventually, your dog will know he'll be reprimanded if he pays any attention to the chickens.
    My chickens got used to the dogs keeping their distance so when one came close, the chickens actually attacked the dog which sent him running! One time, one of the dogs had the nerve to go into the run to scope out scraps. When a chicken realized an interloper was in the run, she rushed in and pecked the dog until she ran out whimpering. :)
    4 people like this.
  3. MIster Ducker

    MIster Ducker In the Brooder

    Mar 10, 2014
    You can frequently show the chickens to your dog. If he attacks them, punish him (not physically). He will eventually learn that the chickens are not food or a threat. If you have a younger dog, introduce them at the same time and frequently have them interact. They will learn to have companionship with the chickens. Hope this helps! [​IMG]
  4. 3chickchicks

    3chickchicks Songster

    Jun 25, 2013
    N. Texas

    I used a similar method. When I progressed to no leash, I had a water hose at the ready for long distance correction.
  5. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    Depends on the dog. I have had dogs and birds for years. Never had a problem. I trusted the dogs implicitly even if I was not there to watch over things. They either completely ignored the birds altogether, or followed them around like the treat-dispensing (poop) machines they were.

    Unfortunately, my newest pup is a problem. She is a brilliant dog, so I will probably eventually be able to train this chicken chasing/harassing behavior out of her, but I will NEVER trust her alone with the birds like I have been able to do for years with all my other dogs. High prey driven animals can never be trusted around flappy, flighty birds regardless of their training. Period.
    2 people like this.
  6. Alia

    Alia Chirping

    Mar 18, 2014
    In my experience, if the dog is a hound... No way. Not even rearing the animals together can do any good. I once heard a story of someone adopting a dachshund that was so obese it could not move, thinking that since it was immobile, it couldn't possibly get the chickens. They came home to dead chickens. Certain other breeds like ratter terriers can be the same way.

    Conversely, the best breed to have with small animals is the pit bull.
    3 people like this.
  7. Ole and Lena

    Ole and Lena Songster

    Jul 22, 2011
    Wright Co Minnesota
    I have a retriever that is trained to hunt, flush and retrieve game birds. He's no problem around the chickens. He's even trained to "hunt up" stragglers that decide to roost in places other than the coop at night. Just took lots of conditioning and repetition. I introduced him to off-leash training with the birds at about 3 months when I was confident he had a firm grasp on the word "no." Basically got him used to being around the chickens on the leash first, then off. Normal curiosity... sniffing, tracking, playful jumping and growling at them was tolerated, any chasing behavior was checked immediately. Took him about a day to get the hang of it, 3 until I trusted him when I wasn't looking. The "can't teach an old dog new tricks" saying is an old wives' tale. If your dog understands basic obedience, he can be trained not to eat chickens. He will probably even be trained to help round them up and protect them.

    The one thing to be careful of, a dog does know the difference between your chickens, other peoples chickens and other fowl. Your birds will be safe, others may not, even new ones you introduce. My dog retrieved a farmers tame duck one day when I came back from hunting. Fortunately he has a very soft retrieve so the duck was unharmed and the farmer let me back on his land again.[​IMG] He actually thought it was a pretty neat trick since his wife wasn't looking.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2014
    2 people like this.
  8. suebee

    suebee Speaks Silkie Fluently

    Apr 1, 2007
    N. Carolina
    I successfully trained 3 Golden Retrievers to protect my chickens. A great breed that wants to please it's owner. I trained like this. When the dog's brain is zero'd in on the chickens, interrupt his zone by making a sound that gets his attention, like "shhhh" or low "aaak" or "NO". Make sure he's on a leash for a few weeks. You have to watch his eyes to see if he's looking at the chickens. Keep interrupting his "zone" and act authoritative. If he tries to go after the chickens, lay him over on his side and firmly place your flat hand over his face while saying NO.
    Repeat, repeat, repeat. It may take weeks or months. My Golden will protect baby chicks in the yard and run past them for a squirrel.
    1 person likes this.
  9. Gingersnap722

    Gingersnap722 Songster

    Jun 13, 2013
    I actually did lol when I saw the last two sentences of this post!
  10. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Songster

    Jan 27, 2013
    Northern Wisconsin
    I only hope to be able to manage my dog when I start letting the birds loose more this summer, she is a German wire haired pointer with the most intense prey drive I have seen of any dog I have ever owned. As a pup she would point a grouse wing yet not pay attention to chickens when I took her near my friends chicken coop, I didn't have chickens at the time. But since she has grown up she has developed a major interest in the chickens, she will point them in their run for hours, she has attempted to jump into the run only to be hung up in the netting above, she will chase them up and down the side of the run until they all head for the coop, any wild birds, squirrels, mice, deer, whatever we come across in the woods while out hunting she takes off after it, if there is a mouse in the house she knows and becomes absolutely obsessed with catching it, she will lay in the same spot for days waiting for it to show itself. She is a very smart dog and is quite obedient, yet I fear she would end up getting caught up in the moment and mauling a bird to death before she decided to listen to my holler, sometimes she gets strong headed and needs a refresher with the training collar, I am thinking that I will definitely need to employ that collar if I want to have any hope of keeping her away from the chickens.

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