Ceasar Milan, The Dog Whisperer, addresses dogs and chickens

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Momaha, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. Momaha

    Momaha Chirping

    Mar 20, 2011
    Sooner Nation WWHQ
    We are preparing our home for a dog. I was researching how to train dogs not to attack chickens and came across a Q&A from Ceasar Milan. This appears to be sound advice to me but who here has really tried it and how did it go?

    Here is the transcript:

    How do I teach my livestock guard dogs to be gentle with alpacas and chickens, but protect against dogs and wildlife? @bareftbeachba

    For your dog's first introduction to the alpacas and chickens, I would make sure he is very, very tired. This way, the chickens are stronger than him. The alpacas are stronger than him. You're introducing him to flight-oriented animals. If they sense that a predator is in a high energy state, they will get nervous, and this can trigger your dog's predatory nature. But if the dog is relaxed, they can also feel relaxed, and that will invite your dog to be with them.

    Then, keep an eye on your dog's interaction with the livestock. If he looks at them the wrong way, barks, or whines, I would immediately correct that behavior. I would not allow excitement, anxiety, or fixation. Stop the behavior before it becomes a problem.

    Eventually, I would also bring my dog with me when I feed the chickens and the alpacas. The livestock will be excited about the food. They will make different sounds and motions. Observe how your dog reacts to that heightened energy. And again, correct any excited, fixated, or anxious behaviors, and send him into a calm-submissive state. You'll have to be very versatile. If you're in the middle of feeding, you have to address the dog's behavior and then go back to feeding.

    This exposure should be gradual. Slowly, your alpacas and chickens will grow comfortable around your dog, and your dog will become relaxed around them.

  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Crowing

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    Interesting information. Personally, if I had to "train" my dog to not be interested in chickens, I would never fully trust him/her around them, for fear that the excitement/fixation would return the first time my back was turned. We added a new dog to our family a month ago and my criteria was that the new dog show a lack of interest in the chooks from the get go. With that in mind, we worked through rescue organizations that are willing to allow a trial period, and I explained to them what we were looking for in a dog, very specifically. The very first dog we tried out is a Border Collie/Lab cross. Her foster parents brought her to our house and we went straight to the backyard. We were all observing her to gauge her interest in the birds. There was none! She was very interested in smelling all the new smells - which included the chickens and their poop - but showed almost no interest in the birds themselves. And this was at a time when the girls were at a heightened state of energy due to this new dog roaming around in "their" territory. They squawked and flapped and ran away in a variety of directions any time she got close and all she did was look at them with ears pricked forward and a kind of quizzical look on her face like "Huh. Wonder what's up with those things?" before turning her attention back to something else.

    A month later, the girls have relaxed around her and she continues to show NO interest in them. She is only 9 months old and loves to fetch and roughhouse with our older dog but she appears to show some awareness of where they are and will leap over or go around them to get the ball rather than run right through them, so we are very happy with her.

    Honestly, if we had tried a dog that showed any kind of the behaviors Cesar mentioned - fixation, heightened excitement etc. - I wouldn't have been willing to adopt the dog. When you already have a dog and get chickens, you may need to do this kind of work but when you are adding a new dog to the family, you have the perfect opportunity to just get the right dog from the start. Rather than adopt a bunch of problems, if I were you, I'd keep looking until you find a dog that shows no interest at all.
  3. Momaha

    Momaha Chirping

    Mar 20, 2011
    Sooner Nation WWHQ
    Quote:I love your approach and am certain I can find someone who fosters dogs who would be willing to work with us. I'm not hung up on any specific breed just one that is a good fit for our family- which includes our chickens.
  4. Dar

    Dar Crowing

    Jul 31, 2008
    my mom and dads dog is a chow husky X... he had to come stay with me for the last 7 months because my moms house burned down.

    i brought him to the chicken coop on a lead and we sat and watched the chickens through the fenced run i would bring my chair and my book and each time he would make a sound of aggression or anxiety he was corrected with a stern NO! after about 15 - 20 minutes he fell asleep beside the chair and he was then given his reward a golf ball size hunk of roll over dog food/treat

    we repeated this for a few days till he would walk off leash to the chair and lie down.

    we would start off by saying to him lets go see the chickens. this phase only took about a week

    then we upped the anti and moved the chair INTO the run and again about a week later he was totally relaxed around the chickens I could let them free range around him no problems

    my own Min Pins... it took a LOT longer but they were puppies.. my mom and dads dog is 7 so I dont know if that had a factor in the process.

  5. Momaha

    Momaha Chirping

    Mar 20, 2011
    Sooner Nation WWHQ
    Quote:Good to know and you're intuition is probably right re: the age factor. That might be part of my criteria. Nice tip on the book too because I am not one to just sit for sittings sake. Might even be sending a non-verbal message to the dog that "we are going to sit here and relax".
  6. 2overeasy000

    2overeasy000 Songster

    Dec 1, 2010

    I bring my dog out every morning with me to feed the chickens and then she gets feed after when we come inside. She enjoys "working" with me out there and then she gets the "reward" of eating afterwards. I think this has really helped for her to realize that the chickens are part of our pack. She cannot fixate on them, chase them, or even play with them because she is way to big for that. The introductions were first made with the chix behind a fence. Then, with the dog on a leash. And now when they are out to freerange she is out there with them to protect from predators. This has worked really well for me. And I have restarted the process with the new pullets we just got. So far, no problems.
  7. greytmommy

    greytmommy Songster

    Mar 26, 2011
    Quote:This is how I would do it as well. We have a Jack Russell mix that is VERY good w/ our chickens. She sometimes like to go "chicken bowling" (as we call it)...run right smack into a clump of them and watch them scatter...and I SWEAR you can see her laughing!!! But I want to get a big dog here soon...as my husband is away often with work, and it makes me feel vulnerable. And this was the approach I was going to take to find a big dog that would be safe with my hens.

  8. Moonkit

    Moonkit Songster

    Apr 20, 2011
    Richardson, Texas
    I think it could work.. the key is to be consistent. With my border collie who started off with aggression towards small animals (and especially other dogs).. I started with her as soon as I brought my first fuzz babies home. I let her look into the brooder, sniff, even held a chick for her. The moment she showed any of her "hunting" signs, she got a stern correction and a reminder that "these are mama's babies.. you don't touch." A few hours of that and she turned protective on them.. the second they peeped too loud, she was over by us, whining for us to check them. They got included on her routine patrols of the house (she'd pause and glance in the brooder). During their first foraging sessions into the great outdoors, she was brought along on leash. Again, any sign of "hunting" or "aggression" was quickly met with a correction (normally a "No! Leave it!" and put into a down-stay until she relaxed.)

    Now our chickens are not afraid of her (but they are wary about getting stepped on when she's running by) and will even steal food from her. We like to give our chickens corn, watermelon, apple, banana, and bits of bread for treats. Diamond will often steal the cobs or rinds.. and then have to continually move as the chickens follow her to keep eating. We even caught her delicately eating from one end of a corn cob while our polish, Mikaela, ate from the other. Just yesterday.. Diamond laid down in her "guard" position in front of the chickens who were foraging under a tree.

    Our sheltie, Jewel, is 14 years old and couldn't care less about the chickens except for a strange desire to eat their poop [​IMG] I'm probably going to need to get both dogs wormed because they continue to insist on eating the chicken poop no matter how many times we chase them off from it.
  9. ChooksinChoppers

    ChooksinChoppers Songster

    Mar 24, 2011
    Ocala, Florida.
    Our sheltie, Jewel, is 14 years old and couldn't care less about the chickens except for a strange desire to eat their poop I'm probably going to need to get both dogs wormed because they continue to insist on eating the chicken poop no matter how many times we chase them off from it.

    [​IMG] You will have to feed your chickens pineapple! Hey ..it works for them eating other dogs poop..why not chicken poo?​

  10. Chido

    Chido Songster

    Apr 16, 2011
    El Monte
    I would be careful on following Cesar Millan's techniques. While it seems he does magic with all the dogs he works with, the methods he uses can be harmful for both the dog and the owner. I also don't trust much his claim that you have to treat dogs as pack members, since dogs have evolved mostly to be almost like scavengers and stay in a puppy state of mind for most of their lives, and they have evolved too far from wolves to have retained any resemblance of wolf hierarchy. I hope I'm not coming across as rude or anything, that's not my intention, but I've read different articles analyzing his methods, and it seems that most trainers and people who study animal behavior are very weary of Millan's treatment of dogs [​IMG].

    This link can give you an idea of the kind of analysis done about Millan's training methods and why they may not quite work as well as you want them.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by