chickens and goats- help! Our pet German Shepherd needs retraining!!!!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by maf2008, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. maf2008

    maf2008 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 19, 2009
    We have a 13 acre ranch, and I am NEW to chickens and caught the addiction BIG TIME.

    Me (mostly) and my gamily built a "fortress" for chickens, triple gated and double doored with 2x4's plus all but a few feet are hard cloth covered. (the rest of wiring is chicken wire and is 8 feet off of the ground. Around the 4 sides I put 2 foot wide 12 foot long aluminum guttering (scraps) around the bottom and laid a few hundred pounds of rocks to keep the coons and critters from digging. I have a 20X22 chicken coop and its 7 feet high! (3 rooms and a hallway)

    I have a German Shepherd dog, he is 3 years old today. He is my pet and faithful friend. Problem.... He is a trained attack dog and was raised in the city. We moved to the country 6 months ago and he has never been so happy. But we know if a chicken gets over the fence it will be history. "Rudy" has seen the chicks thru the cage and lunged at them but I pulled him away. (He could not get through the bars)

    We also have 6 new goats and two times in ONE DAY he tried to chase, pin down and we think kill the goats. What do I do? He has a strong instinct to kill/attack? A shock collar? I was thinking about muzzling him and "hobbleing him" with a chain and a 200/300 lb log and put him in the field with the chickens and goats.

    Please PLEASE help, I love all of my animals and need my protector dog. We do have a "chicken field" and a "goat pasture" But I want my dog to be able to go to either one. ALL ADVICE AND IDEAS are appreciated. Many thanks. (I have 91 chickens ALL kinds, 23 eggs in the bator-I am a first timer and 10 ideal pullet 236 on hold for me at the feed store!) I am addicted to chickens. This site needs a BIGGER "warning and disclaimer page". Chickens are more than addictive!
  2. nzpouter

    nzpouter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2009
    new zealand
    you can retrain him, just don't let him get out of sight on his own until you do.

    Take him with you on a leash everytime you do your chores around the other animals, quick correction everytime he shows the slightest interest.

    A well trained dog(s) are joy to have, do it and it'll be less of a hassle in the long run, might take you 6 months or more, depends how smart/ dumb the dog is and how well/ consistent you are in reading his behaviour.
  3. Chicks_N_Horses

    Chicks_N_Horses Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2009
    South Alabama
    I have a pit, a lab, and a pomeranian. We did have a jack/daushand mix that someone stole a few weeeks ago.

    My dogs started attacking chickens and killing them. I really don't think there is a re-training you can do to keep them from it. THey might go days, weeks, or even a month or so but most likely they will attack/kill again at some point. I got mine to stop for 2 months and came home one day and they killed 4 of my best hens!

    We had to put up a dog proof fence around an acre just so our flock can get free range. We had to pen up most of our chickens permanatly and also keep the dogs on their chains most of the time now. I am at the point of wanting to put a bullet in the lab and pomeranians head now! They killed a den full of fox babies last week. We live deep in the woods and have lots of wildlife and I will not accept the dogs killing them, the fox have never killed any of my chickens....Owls have never killed my chickens...Dogs have killed over 50! I rehabilitate wild animals for release back into the wild. IMO Dogs are a chickens big at least.

    Just my experience on dogs w/chickens. Good Luck with yours!
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2009
  4. Tweeza

    Tweeza Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 17, 2008
    New England
    We have a rescued German shepherd. We got him March of last year before the chicks arrived in Sept. We believe he was raised in the city and probably in an apartment. When he got here he'd had two surgeries and got off on the wrong foot with our pony. The pony chased him one night when I put him out to go to the bathroom. He had a cone collar on and it was frightening for both of us. So, he to this day will chase at the pony, teeth bared.

    From day one he did not eat until he was allowed. We started off with very short times and worked up to longer periods but never over a minute or so. Dogs are pack animals and in the wild the top dog eats first and then the rest eat when allowed by the top dog. Our dog was pushy, spoiled and had bad manners even though he appeared to have had a little training. He also didn't know anything about submission. He got that training also. In Dec. he was better but still could be pushy. We then did not allow him to enter the house unless he had permission. This has been a slow process and he's just know, in the last couple of weeks, realized he'd better just sit down and wait. In the last month I'd say he's truly a keeper.

    This is what we did when we got the chicks. We had them in a big box on the floor. He could look in when we were with him and he was quite intrigued by them. We held them so he could see them and smell them up close. We would try and put them on his head and back but he never stood for that because of his interest. When they went outside in the coop we were there and corrected him when he would dash along side the coop with a chick on the run. We do have a shock collar and did use it a couple of times when the chicks were let out in Jan. but have not used it since. He goes outside with me to feed the chicks and then he get fed. The chicks are happy and I am too. I was afraid I'd lose a chicken or two but have not lost a one.

    I really think that dogs need to know their place in the "pecking/pack order". To many dogs are taken off their mothers to early and they just don't know how to be a dog if not taught. I feel I'm on a soap box so I'll get off. Thanks for listening.
  5. Farminthawoods

    Farminthawoods New Egg

    May 7, 2009
    Hi We have had the same problem with our German Shepherds, one in particular more than the other. The problem with German Shepherds is that they are bred for their strong prey drive which translates into a great guard/attack dogs. The stronger this drive the more they will also attack your animals. You need to control this dogs free time. Never let them alone with the animals. When outside keep it contained or on a leash in hand. We have resorted to muzzles to give the dogs some free time running around, otherwise they are contained. It will be hard to retrain them (maybe impossible), especially once they have killed. The outcome really depends on the particular dog and situation . One shepherd we have doesn't bother free range chickens, just the goats. The other one will try to attack anything that runs. I would check out some muzzles if you want the dog to have some free time running loose, they make nice ones that they can still drink, pant, bark. . I found mine at Hope this helps!
  6. BroomFarm

    BroomFarm Out Of The Brooder

    May 3, 2009
    We have the pleasure of feeding and caring for two different dogs, an adult lab/rott mix and a lab/hound pup, about 8 months old. The older pooch was raised with his mother, who was a no-nonsense type and taught him to be a proper dog; he has no alpha tendencies, whatsoever! However, while both are well-trained as dogs, the hound is way too exuberant to be free near the chickens. Since we have only about 2 acres to work with and wanted our chickens to free range as much as possible, we came up with a compromise that works well, for us.

    We keep the puppy on a collar that uses a wireless base receiver so that if she gets too far from the house, her beeper goes off and she heads back to safer ground. The lab has free run of the property, but he used to wear the same collar, so he knows where the boundaries are and has never left them. We are fortunate, I suppose, in that we have a small creek that separates our house from the chicken coop and run. The chickens don't seem to want to cross the creek, so it keeps them confined, to a certain extent.

    The best benefit of being able to let the older lab range over our property is that he is quite protective of "his" chickens and has done a very good job of keeping predators at bay. We have about 60 acres of woods behind our property that has all the usual suspects, and yet, we have not seen even one sign of something trying to dig under the coop/run. That is probably because our dog runs at least one critter off almost every night.

    Now, let me say that my dogs run free (with limits) for the same reason I want my chickens to free range. I'm not a commercial farmer and feel that my animals deserve the right to soak up a little sunlight and chase bugs and investigate that interesting smell, wafting on the breeze! Know your animals and be kind to them but don't kid yourself.

    In your case, I'm sad to say that what you have is a "city dog" trained to defend and attack; breaking him of that behavior will be tough and I would never suggest letting him be around any of your animals, unsupervised. If you can train him to be on a wireless collar, it will give him (limited) freedom to patrol and protect your property, while giving you the added peace of mind that he won't be eating chicken more often than you do. [​IMG]

    Not sure if this is allowed, but we use the brand that keeps our Pet Safe.
  7. Thomas423

    Thomas423 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2009
    Port Deposit, MD
    I wouldn't trust him EVER!! We have a little dog who is totally facinated with the chickens. He is nice as can be and only wants to "play". Well 2 years ago we had Pekin Ducks that he played with. Now we don't. He only plucked the feathers but 1 went into shock and died immediately and the other got infected and had to be put down 2 days later. Even though he really likes the girls and they appear to like him, I'll never trust him and we too have built Fort Thomas to keep the dogs and chickens apart.

    On another note, we also have goats. They are in a pen seperate from the dogs also. The goat vet warned us that dogs sometimes bite at the back of the goats' legs which can puncture the artery and cause the goat to bleed to death very quickly.

    Our dog is little and both the goats and chickens can "take" him but he can still do enough damage so we will never let him have access to the girls. Do your best to keep them seperate. Good luck. [​IMG]

    Also, IMO the invisable fences only work as well as the dog is willing to allow it to work. I've seen dogs, determined to cross the line, run straight through taking the shock as they crossed.
  8. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    Quote:If your dog is lunging at chickens and chasing, pinning down, and acting like he wants to kill your goats...sorry, but he's not exactly what I'd call a "protector" dog.

    Indeed, I'd call him a tragic, sickening, guilt- and self-blame-inducing bloodbath searching frenetically for the slightest opportunity to happen.

    I know you say you want this "protector dog" to be able to go in with the chickens and goats, but let's go beyond what you want and get down to what you need.... If you need a protector dog to be able to protect the chickens and goats, and you need a protector dog for yourself, what it seems you need are two dogs that can be kept well seperate from each another with a sturdy fence.

    First, a bonafide LGD (Pyr, Anatolian, etc.) that will actually guard and protect the chickens and goats without killing them.. Second, your GSD to guard and protect you and your home against two legged critters.

    For what it's worth, we have a GSD and an LGD (...and a lab mix, two border collies, and a 'feist'...). I wouldn't dream of putting the GSD -- or really any of our non-LGD dogs -- in direct unsupervised contact with chickens or goats. They're fenced off from "the farm", but they would serve to protect our home if someone were dumb enough to try to break in after hearing them all barking inside..

    The LGD, however, is out with the goats -- unsupervised -- a full 24/7.

    Where the house dogs' watch ends (the house yard), big Ivan's territory begins (the barnyard).

    That's my suggestion to you. Take it for what it cost ya. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2009
  9. citrusdreams

    citrusdreams Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2009
    Mine don't touch the chickens, who free range with the dogs. I don't even watch them with the chickens anymore. But they pester the heck out of the goats. One wants to catch them, the other wants to play with them. I think they think they're dogs. So I keep them completely separated.

    The fact that your dogs are pinning down your goats is not a good thing. From what I can tell from your post, they haven't hurt the goats, which is a very good thing, because they could have if they wanted to. We all know that. But don't let it get to that point, because whether the intent is malignant or benign, it will happen. From what you're saying, it sounds like your dogs are treating your goats like fellow dogs, pinning them down and dominating them. My dogs do that with each other ALL DAY. And they've tried to dominate the goats (but not as violently as yours). But they're not dogs, they're goats, and eventually your dogs will hurt them, and I don't mean to be mean, but it'll be your fault, not the dogs' fault. You're going to need to keep them separated. Period.

    Whether or not there will be a blood bath depends on the individual dog. But they're already showing you that a fatal bite is just waiting to happen. It's up to you to prevent that from happening.

    I love my dogs more than anything and wouldn't trade them for the world. They're my companions, protectors and family. But I know it's my responsbility to keep them separated from my goats. You will need to do the same. The goats need their own protector, and it won't be your protectors.

    I know you want them to range together but it's not realistic in this case, at least not at this time. I highly recommended separating your dogs and your goats by confining your goats to an area enclosed with goat panels or field fencing (with a strand of electric on the top, and a strand of electric in the middle on the dogs' side). OR, enclose the area in 5-7 strands of hotwire. Don't use cattle panel because although they are cheaper, the holes are too big and the dogs and the goats can stick their heads though. You want them completely separate. Even if you're working to make your dogs behave better with the goats, you'll have to keep them completely separated if you're not completely *there* and in control.

    I'm not saying that with some work it can't be done. I'd start with leash training and remote controlled shock collar training, but until then, they MUST be completely separated.

    Invisible Fencing is extremely effective and it might be a good option for you. Just keep in mind you'll have to buy batteries every three months. It keeps them on our own property, it keeps them away from the livestock and helps keep other predators at bay as well. They will protect your goats by warding off other predators.

    Shock collars that are remote controlled could be very effective for you. When you see them rush the goat fence or chicken run, click the collar. BELIEVE ME, it's not cruel, it doesn't hurt, it "shocks". It's a very effective training tool and it might resolve your problem. GSDs are big and strong, they can take it, believe me. If you're working on having them interact, you can try the shock collar (with very careful direct supervision). Just click it when they're showing an interest in the goats. You want them to completely ignore the goats. The goats should be just another part of the landscape to them.

    Just please don't tell me you're going to get rid of your dogs. I hate that [​IMG] Your dogs are just as much your responsibility as are your goats. Just work with them, I know you can do it. There is no reason why you can't keep your beloved dogs and your beloved goats and chickens. Just do the right thing and make it so they can't interact without your direct supervision until they are unquestionably trained.

    One more thing: I agree that you shouldn't rely on your dogs to guard your livestock. They *will* guard their territory, and in effect will ward of other predators, but the goats need their own guardian protector. GSDs were bred to either guard people, or to shepherd herds, depending on the origin of the bloodline. Yours (and mine) are not shepherds. What you really need is a dog bred specifically to guard the livestock. I'd go with a great pyranese, an antaolian, or other LGD that is bred specifically to hang with the goats. It will also keep your dogs in check.

    Good luck and keep us posted [​IMG]
  10. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    Quote:Our LGD has come to tolerate the presence all but one of our other dogs. Ironically, the one he hates is a border collie who has no prey drive, but which hates other dogs... He tolerates our GSD just fine, and I've actually seen her nip hard and take hair off our goats through the backyard fence. She would be the worst offender, IMO, and I've no doubt that she could walk right past him on her way to kill goats and chickens.

    Actually, even though he hates the one BC, I've known her to get in the barnyard twice and not be immediately attacked like I figured would happen....Ivan knows who she is, so he just stalked her and puffed up and growled, trying to "encourage" her to go back under the fence from whence she came.

    Anyway, my point is that LGDs often come to see their owners' other dogs as non-threats and won't guard against them, so don't count on one keeping your other dogs in check -- especially if you get the LGD as a pup.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by