Dog with Chickens?

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by tarahtt, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. tarahtt

    tarahtt Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 18, 2014
    SW Missouri
    I am in the city, and I'm trying to plan just how to keep my chickens in the back yard. I am only planning on about 4 hens. I want them to be able to free range our large-for-city back yard as much as possible. I have a Golden Retriever that will lay down and let a rabbit snuggle in next to her...but she is never left alone with the rabbit. How do you country living people (whom I envy) train your dogs not to hurt the chickens?

    I am not worried about predators around here. My grandpa a few blocks away kept chickens roaming in his back yard for years with just a little place for nesting and wind block. And I would be less worried about the neighbors cat if it was ok for my dog to be out with the hens.

    I have read about chicken runs, but I don't want a single area of my yard turned to mud (it is very green, we even have sprinklers). I have thought about putting their coop in the smaller fence with my raised garden beds and putting netting around my plants, but the ground in that area is covered in mulch and I don't think cleaning poop from there would be an easy task. I have also thought about those "tractors" where I can move them around the yard which doesn't sound too bad. But I really wish to let them roam if possible.

    Any thoughts or experiences with dogs and chickens would be appreciated.

  2. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    Hi and welcome to BYC from northern Michigan [​IMG]

    Many dogs get along fine with chickens, but at the beginning you must be very watchful - birds that are flapping and squawking may be too attractive for some dogs to resist.

    You will likely find that having a dedicated chicken pen will be a big befit, protecting them from predators when you are not with them, and protecting your yard and garden from chicken depredations. A visit to the Coops section of the Forum will give you many good options.
  3. gander007

    gander007 Chicken Obsessed

    Alright Tarah, [​IMG] great to have you joining the flock [​IMG]
  4. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!
  5. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
  6. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop

    Sumi has left you with a good link about working and keeping dogs with chickens. Many dogs see chickens as dinner, so you really need to be careful with them around your flock.

    Great to have you aboard and enjoy BYC!
  7. bruceha2000

    bruceha2000 Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 19, 2012
    NW Vermont
    I've not needed to deal with this as we only have house cats. I would feel better with my girls being out if I had a Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) but they are WAY stupid expensive and I don't have time to train one at the moment anyway. So I take my chances, knock on wood, no problems so far (girls are 1 1/2 years old, got as day old chicks).

    But ... I've read any number of posts saying their chickens were killed by a dog, frequently their OWN dog. Thus you are wise to be wary. You may not need to be too worried about the neighbor's cat unless it is huge. Our 12 hens are fortunate to have more outdoor space than they can ever use and are out all day if they want. The neighbor across the street (rural, probably 100 yards) has a cat that likes to come visit our property daily. I don't think she has ever given more than a passing thought to "dinner" not with 12 full grown birds. More likely she's hunting the mice and voles in and around the barn. The girls were confined to an outdoor run when they were little unless we were out with them. I would definitely NOT have the birds unattended outside a cat proof run until they are big enough to be sturdy foes to the cat. I don't know that I would trust the dog to protect them from the cat either unless the cat never comes in your yard when the dog is out. Cats are stealthy and dogs take naps.

    On the other hand we had WAY too much work done on the house last summer and several of the carpenters brought their dogs. Lucky pups had 'bring your pet to work day' every day. I kept the girls in the barn while I was at work and had the guys tie up their dogs when I got home so I could let the girls range. The guys were usually only there for another hour anyway. But I did figure out that one carpenter's 2 dogs - black lab mutt siblings that would chase a ball all day if you wanted to - were not a threat so if his were the only dogs here, I left the barn door open. They never went down and the girls mostly hung in the barn or out behind it until the dogs went home for the day. Some of the other dogs - I wouldn't have trusted them even if I were out with the chickens.

    My point is - take it slow and see how your dog acts around the chickens. Read the threads as suggested since BYC is a FABULOUS source of info. If your Golden is placid and gets to be around the chicks as they grow, I think you should be able to train the dog to not think of them as toys or prey. Goldens are bred to bring home game, specifically birds, so you will be working against his/her nature. This could be a problem since when one chicken gets frightened by something, they all do. If one runs, they all run. That might trigger the "fetch the bird" nature in your dog.


    1 person likes this.
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    It's a good breed to start with...good dogs, quick learner, eager to please the owner and also a soft mouth towards birds.

    We establish a good relationship with the dog that fosters trust in the fact that they will be consistent in their actions when we are not around. The only way to really see what they will do when we are not around is to arrange a situation that is controlled, that lets us "turn our back" but still observe the dog's actions, be close enough to correct~from a distance~ and then just daily observation after that.

    First, of course, all the groundwork on obedience and pack leadership is established. If your dog jumps up on people and you can't control that, I'm thinking pack leadership has not been established to the degree that you can trust him to regard things that belong to you are not to be touched. If they don't come each and every time you do not control the dog. If they cannot be told to "leave it, drop it, mine" or any other order that tells them to cease and desist what they are focused upon, then they you are not pack leader. If you cannot tell them to sit or lie down and they immediately obey and will stay there when you say to do so, it's likely you will not be pack leader enough to trust they will leave the birds alone when you are not present.

    In other words, you must control that dog's mind even when you are not around and you've got to have trust in that control. Then you have to test it to see if it works...that's the only way you really know for sure if the dog will leave chickens alone when you are not around.
    1 person likes this.
  9. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC!

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