Chocolate Lab Predator Protector?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by KettermanHillCoop, Nov 17, 2017.

  1. KettermanHillCoop

    KettermanHillCoop Crowing

    1,135
    3,833
    307
    Oct 23, 2017
    Pennsylvania
    Okay...so my neighbor has chickens too and two Shepherds. The dogs roam their yard limited by invisible fencing but their pen is strategically placed next to the chicken coop. Set-up seems to work divinely to deter would-be predators.

    So...here's my story...with pictures. :)

    I have a 9 yr old ginormous 6 second-dozen-donut-eating (box and all) chocolate lab...and I mean ginormous...175 lb - 180 lb solid massiveness. I've had black labs before but this chocolate lab is just huge... NOTHING gets close to us without him alerting us...except for the squirrels...he could care less about the rats with the pretty tails.
    pup stand.jpg


    Not sure how he'll be with live chickens...protect, eat or cower... I say live because he had a squeaky chicken that he just loved. He didn't rip it apart (amazingly) or even destroy it by over-loving it. It was his baby chicken....and he knew the word "chicken" and would fetch his chicken specifically out of his other items of interest when I asked for "chicken"....

    The protect...
    pup 1st chicken.jpg

    Well...one summer day...Dad (the boyfriend) caused a calamity of tremendous proportions...he ran over "chicken" with the riding lawnmower. Little bits of rubbery chicken scattered about...a very sad sight indeed. Puppy was sad... Mom searched high and low for a duplicate rubber chicken with no success. How rare could this rubber chicken be??? I settled on a different style chicken...in hopes to ease my fur baby's sorrow... At first, he loved his new chicken...
    pup 2nd chicken.jpg


    Then...just moments after above picture was taken....he picked up his new chicken...circled around a bit...found the perfect spot....and the culling commenced...

    The eat.
    pup shred chicken.jpg


    Now...as ginormous as he is...he is afraid of my little Scottie...who is basically only the size of his head... He tried to sniff her butt...ONCE...and she abruptly did a 180 and gave him the business. He vertically jumped 3 feet in the air and has since kept a cautionary buffer between himself and that little hairball with teeth.

    The cower.
    Daisy.jpg

    My 5 chickens are confined to a coop and run. At no time do they free range.

    My question is...do you think my over-grown, couch potato, head-sitting (my head) garbage disposal of a Chocolate Lab strategically place up by the coop would be a good idea to deter would-be predators? Just by his proximity to the coop?



    pup on back.jpg

    @penny1960, I know you have a donut-loving lab as well...thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    25,959
    10,620
    727
    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    My first guess is that the lab will be the predator but I could be proven wrong.
     
  3. GopherBrokeFarm

    GopherBrokeFarm In the Brooder

    8
    7
    22
    May 5, 2016
    Handsome dog. You just won’t know until you (very cautiously) try. Long, boring story ahead...

    I have a high energy, extremely intelligent, female Doberman with a strong prey drive, particularly for things that fly. She wears a goat bell outdoors so the squirrels know she is coming. Much to my delight and surprise she is an awesome chicken protection dog and without her services I could not freerange at all.

    I involved her in raising the chicks so she accompanied me while I tended to them from hatchlings. My goal was to reduce her reactivity to the chickens so if one happened to get loose around her it wouldn’t be so exciting. I was willing to accept she might never be chicken safe and to take the appropriate precautions for my hens. Well, over time and supervised exposure she just added them to her list of things that were hers to protect.

    Today, she will actively scan for hawks (my main predator here) when the chickens are free ranging and chase them off the property. I have never had a dog who watches the sky like she does. The chickens follow her around. If she wanders off from them and they alarm she will come running to see what’s going on. I have watched chickens awkwardly fly directly over her head and she does not react but any bird of prey is fair game. She knows they are called “hawks” and if I accidentally say “hawk” she will go looking for one. I taught her nothing except “you can’t eat these chickens, they are mine.” :D

    My wonderful, working-type GSD on the other hand could give a toot about the chickens. I thought he would be the better livestock dog but he is not concerned with them at all. I’m pretty sure a hawk could fly off with the lot of them and he wouldn’t bother to investigate. Every dog is an individual.:rolleyes:

    If your dog wants a job like my dobe did it may work out swimmingly. I don’t believe tearing up a chicken shaped toy is any indication of suitability. There is no way he sees that as a chicken. As for associating the word with the animal that can be overcome. I used to give my girl dried chicken feet as treats and her emergency recall word was chicken foot! I switched to dried liver treats and we are working on a new emergency recall phrase but honestly if I say “chickens” she looks for the flock and if I say “chicken foot” she looks for me to give her a really tasty treat. I’d just start with a slow controlled intro to the birds, have modest expectations and be willing to put in the training time. Good luck!
     
  4. KettermanHillCoop

    KettermanHillCoop Crowing

    1,135
    3,833
    307
    Oct 23, 2017
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks for the insight! I'll try a slow introduction. I guess I should add that my chickens won't be free-ranging. They have a roofed 10' x 10' x 6' chain link dog kennel for a run.

    Side note: I had a two Dobes in my time. Excellent dogs...very smart.
     
    21hens-incharge likes this.
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    27,610
    26,559
    907
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
    MY JRT mix has strong prey drive. The only way I could deter her from chasing chickens was to use an electronic remote control collar. It worked wonders. Only 2 corrections needed. It broke at the beginning of this summer (cheap chinese import), so I have not been able to reinforce my training with her. She was soon back to her "gotta see the chickens run" ways, though sometimes she will lay down and simply watch them forage around her. It's only when she's feeling goofy that she wants to see them run. (or when I am verbally correcting the chickens.) So, I gotta buy a new remote collar for her.

    She also wears a receiver collar with radio frequency transmitter to stay within her boundaries. She respects that collar, yet knows just how many seconds and how far she can "escape her boundary" before she has to pay the consequences. She is always testing her limits, testing the battery power, and scooting past the "do not go" zone to grab a corn cob or an acorn. I swear she knows that if she stands at the edge of boundary, to make the collar beep that it wears down her battery!

    The only way you will know if you can trust either of your dogs (don't let the small size calm you into complacency. A small dog can do just as much damage) is by taking them one at a time and working with them around the chickens. I recommend that you do so initially with a leash. Make the dog lie down and only give him a treat when his focus stays away from the birds. Then increase the stimulation, see if he will stay focused on you when you bring him even closer, even when the birds are flapping and squaking, even when they are ranging around him for treats... Go slow, and keep increasing the stimulation and proximity. If all else fails buy him a remote.
     
  6. KettermanHillCoop

    KettermanHillCoop Crowing

    1,135
    3,833
    307
    Oct 23, 2017
    Pennsylvania
    Does your pup run around with your chickens or are your chickens inside a protected area? My chickens are in an enclosed coop/run...no free-ranging.
     
  7. Soon2BChixMom

    Soon2BChixMom Herding ducks and Wrangling chickens

    9,132
    19,609
    832
    Jan 8, 2017
    Does the Lab or Scottie exhibit any prey drive instincts? Usually those with heigh prey drive love to fetch balls, frisbees, etc. with much enthusiasm.

    I have 3 dogs - 2 have a high prey drive. The oldest is also the smallest and once he goes outside he is always searching in rocks and under the shed for mice. He is 10 yrs old, but in his younger days he caught a couple of mice in the yard oh and a mole. He is a miniature schnoodle. I think the only thing slowing him down is his glaucoma and apparently his sniffer has met old age. I was actually the most worried about him when we got the chickens. We usually take him out with no leash, but when we got the chickens, I leashed him just in case he ran over to their area. When I decided to take him out to the coop, I did so on the leash and then had him sit about 5 foot away from it. He didn’t even budge when he “saw” the chickens. I’m pretty sure it’s because he couldn’t see them. We got closer and he noticed the movement.

    My other two are much younger 3 and 2 - one is a labradoodle the other a golden doodle. The lab mix has a pretty high prey drive as she will play ball or frisbee to no end. However, she never bothered the guinea pigs we had (unlike the older dog jumping up to see them and such). She doesn’t go after any small animals. She knows commands pretty well and so after a few intros on the leash, she is now off leash in the backyard like she normally does. She even checks on the chickens with me every morning. But, not out in the open. The chickens still have the barrier of their run.
    My youngest the golden mix is the goofiest. She will play ball, but doesn’t prefer it to just running around the yard. She is my toy chewer though. If we get the wrong kind of toy, it’s tore up in mere seconds. We actually refer to her as our jester as she does some silly things. But, if the wind blows just right or her shadow somehow sneaks up on her she’s jumping out of the way. She eyed the coop with a side glance for days even when it had no chickens and she was quite the distance from it. When I took her up to it to meet the chickens she jumped back, but then pulled on the leash. She would sit on command and she knows the leave it, but if she ever got over her fear, she might think the chickens are play toys. I have taken her out a few brief moments w/o the leash to observe the coop/run/chickens. She’s doing well, but I’m leery of how she would react if they were out in the open.

    I guess the main thing is -do your dogs obey commands (sit, stay, leave it, etc.) and do you trust them enough to do so around the chickens with no barrier?
     
    KettermanHillCoop likes this.
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    27,610
    26,559
    907
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
    My birds are in a run that is outside her range. But, I often let them out to free range in the yard, and that's when she sometimes likes to "make them run". When that happens, I scold her, and make her come inside. She knows she's been naughty b/c she immediately runs straight into her crate. I scold her all the way to her crate, and then give her no eye contact or social interaction for a good while.
     
    KettermanHillCoop likes this.
  9. Soon2BChixMom

    Soon2BChixMom Herding ducks and Wrangling chickens

    9,132
    19,609
    832
    Jan 8, 2017
    Ah yes, my two younger ones have an emergency recall command too as @GopherBrokeFarm mentioned.
    Ours is “pronto” something we never ever say normally. Except my hubby sometimes accidentally says it now since it has worked it’s way into our vocabulary. Lol
     
  10. KettermanHillCoop

    KettermanHillCoop Crowing

    1,135
    3,833
    307
    Oct 23, 2017
    Pennsylvania
    The Scottie will have no interaction with the chickens. She's an indoor pup...to keep an eye on my elderly Mom and be her companion. She's spoiled to the point of being quite the stuck up snob. Lol. The Lab...well...he knows certain words....not so much commands...okay, no commands. Lol He's lived the Life of Riley...x 10. He's sleeping on my head as I type this, grunting because my hand movements are disturbing his slumber...lol
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: