Dog meet chickens, chickens meet dog

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ChickyT, Oct 5, 2012.

  1. ChickyT

    ChickyT Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2012
    South Haven, Minnesota
    Not sure the best place to post this! Our family has been without a dog for 1 1/2 years now. We are ready to get a new dog. In the meantime we have built a chicken coop and have a small flock. My question is what is the best way to introduce your new dog to the chickens? We do not have a specific dog picked out yet so does anyone have a breed they feel is better to have around chickens? I have seen pictures posted with the family dog laying right with the chickens. I would love that! But how do you get to that point? If anyone has been through this I would love to hear your experience and thoughts! Thanks!
     
  2. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I have posted this on other threads, so sorry if this is repeat but I really believe that any breed of dog can be trained to be around your animals safely if you work on training them well in overall impulse control. Here is the method I use to train my dogs:

    I have a pit-bull mix and three pugs. The pit and two of the pugs are rescues from urban shelters with mixed histories of abuse. All four dogs are out in the yard with my 5 chickens everyday without any problems. In fact I once had a chicken attack a dog but never the opposite. Everyone guaranteed me that the pit would kill my chickens but she has never been a problem.

    Here is what I personally recommend: The most important thing to focus on overall is improving your dogs impulse control. No matter what your dog has a natural prey drive but more than that they are pack animals that want to please their master. Good basic training makes teaching them anything else so much easier. Make sure that you can snap your dogs attention back to you even when they see something they want. (I can't snap so I use an "aht." noise - this means sit and pay attention to me) One of the best ways to work on this without a live animal present is during feeding. Do you free feed your dogs or do they eat at regular times? I would recommend taking them off of free feeding if you are doing that. Focus on training your dogs so they they will not eat anything unless you give a specific command. I set down all four bowls of food and make the dogs wait. They do not eat until they hear their own name and see a hand gesture. Also work on them stopping eating at a command and willing stepping away from their food. I say "Name, wait." and they stop and sit until told to continue. These skills help with impulse control in many areas of training. It may seem unrelated but to a dog, the one who controls the food is the ruler of them all.

    It is also a good idea to work on the “leave it” command with toys, food and other things.

    I would introduce the dog to the chickens on a leash and just sit and be calm. (One dog at a time if you have more than one) As soon as she starts to fixate on the chickens in any way other than simple curiosity or barks or is excited (even happy excited) I would scold her with the same word every time (you only need to say it once, firmly) and immediately take her inside. It is important to take her in even with happy excitement. You are training her to ignore the chickens not to like the chickens and there is a big difference. With my dogs I brought them back when they were calm and started all over again. and again and again. lol. I allowed them to glance at them or sniff them but anything else was a no. It took a bit of patience but in the end my dogs ignored the chickens and now find very little interest in them at all other than a sniff here or there. I never yelled or hit them or used a choke or a shock. I just said no and took them away immediately at any sign of fixation or barking. You will need to do this everyday until they get it. Patience is the key and consistency. It sucks because sometimes you are busy and don't want to deal with it but starting and stopping will just make it worse. I leave them all together unsupervised regularly.


    It is not going to be one introduction, it is going to be many but the time you put in is really worth it.

    Here is my pit, Lou, with a silkie chick who fell in love with her.



    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012
  3. ChickyT

    ChickyT Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2012
    South Haven, Minnesota
    Wow! Great advice! Thank you so much. Glad to hear you have rescue dogs. We are also going through a rescue organization. Currently in the process of getting approved for adoption. Then to find the right dog. I am excited that you think the breed isn't as important as the time we put in to make this work! It would be nice to know I have a little guard hanging out with the hens in the backyard!
     
  4. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2012
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    Yay! I am really glad that you are getting a rescue dog. Sometimes it just takes a lot of repetition and patience and it can get frustrating. Some of my dogs were really easy to train and some were much harder. One of my dog clearly had bad things happen to him before and it took him awhile to adjust but he is doing very well now.

    Do some research about the breeds you are considering and make sure you pick something that works well with your life and your family. Some dogs have higher prey drives or more impulse control problems or are more stubborn. It may take more time to train them but I believe it is totally do able.

    Let me know what you end up getting. How exciting!!
     
  5. Mountain Man Jim

    Mountain Man Jim Chillin' With My Peeps

    I agree, It's great to see that you are adopting a dog. I volunteer at a shelter and feel it's the best way to get a dog.

    Oh and PM send on training dogs for a life with chickens.

    Jim
     
  6. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    I think the two most important things to remember when starting out with a new dog are: Training must take place daily, every time you go out with the dog and indefinitely. And never leave the dog alone or otherwise allow access to the chickens for a very long time. I raise and train my own ranch dogs and they are livestock trustworthy dogs but it takes a long time for them to get to that level with me and honestly, I still don't trust any dog 100%. My chickens have a coop/run and have access to my securely fenced, dog proof pasture. I have a couple of birds that like to come up to the house occasionally and my dogs ignore them completely but they don't share space on a regular basis, especially not when I'm not around.

    As far as any breed being trainable to be with chickens, I somewhat disagree with that. While there are shining examples in any breed of dogs who are good or terrible with chickens I think it is only fair to consider a dog's inherent traits when considering breed. It can certainly make your job easier at the least. There are some breeds with naturaly strong prey drives, some breeds also respond better to training then others. Not all breeds are people pleasers etc. It's just worthwhile to take all those things into consideration, especially if a dogs past is unknown.

    ChickensRDinos methods are pretty much what we use here and with great success. Daily exposure, rewarding good behavior and discouraging the bad. Eventually a dog who is going to be good around chickens will get bored with them, it will all become everyday stuff. A dog who is not going to get to that point will show you by it's actions and continued over interest. Although you will often read stories on this forum about the family dog who was always great with the chickens.... until the day he wasn't.

    Good luck, I hope you find the right dog for your situation. With care and diligence you can turn out a good dog who will respect your chickens.
     

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