Dogs Aint Predators

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by woodmort, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    Let me begin by setting the record straight: I do not hate dogs. In my 72 years I’ve had 9 dog companions and cried like a baby when each died or had to be put down. The only reason we don’t have one now is that it wouldn’t fit our retired lifestyle –cats and chickens can be left overnight or for a day or two without needing outsider care. That being said, I would never, under the best of circumstances, trust a dog around chickens. I don’t care what breed or how it was raised/trained as sooner or later the prey/play behavior will kick in and the dog will do damage to the birds.

    Now I’ve lost chickens and ducks to a variety of predators: weasels, skunks, raccoons, possums, foxes, rats, hawks and, maybe, coyotes. The one thing common to all those losses has been that the chickens killed were, unless the animal was disturbed in the act, partially or fully eaten. The predator attacked the chickens because it had a need to eat, the chicken was on its diet and they were not going to go to all that effort to waste any. While I didn’t like that outcome and had done whatever I could to prevent it, I do understand.

    But dogs are not predators and I’ve also lost far more chickens to them. In every case the chickens killed were not eaten. Rather they were played with, tossed around, sometimes carried off and usually tortured in the process. I had one lame broody that couldn’t get away so a pitbull just pawed her to death. All the dogs were well fed and, supposedly, cared for and trained. They just saw the chickens as an easy target and took advantage of the opportunity. All of the dogs were known to me, none were mine, and the neighbors apologized for what happen usually after refusing to believe their dogs could do such a thing. Some did offer to compensate me, but I didn’t take them up on it because I wasn’t sure exactly what to charge and figured they’d balk at $100 a bird. While most are well aware that I’d be within my rights to off their dogs, I care enough for animals to refrain from that—besides there is no sense making enemies over this. It is just that I now do not let the chickens free-range when the neighbors’ dogs are out or call and have them confined before I do.

    The point is, if you think your chickens are safe around your pet, think again. If you are keeping, or planning to keep, both chickens and dogs you’d better be sure there is a foolproof way to keep the two species separated. Trust me, without protection you’re going to have a tragedy sooner or later.
  2. flowergirl60

    flowergirl60 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 13, 2011
    Austin Tx
    I totally agree with your post. I let mine free range in my 6ft fenced in backyard. The nieghbors dog is huge ( don't know what kind they are new neighbors) I stay out with them when the dog is outside. Makes me nervous.
  3. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    Aug 25, 2008
    Agreed. Eventually, nature will trump training. It may take a long time, but why tempt fate, when a fence is so easy to put up?
  4. love-my-wolves

    love-my-wolves Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 14, 2008
    Front Royal, VA
    I wish I could agree...... if I went with your theory, then what would you call my Shepherd mix that killed and ate 3 of my chickens? The first one we caught him before he got the whole body eaten, the chicken had gotten stuck between the yard fence and the dog run. Another time, we let the dog out to go potty, and we never knew that one of our hens had gotten out until we saw his face full of feathers and the leftover bits...... 3rd one, and last because the dog was rehomed, was just about completely gone........ [​IMG] We learned our lesson, now our chicks have a "fort Knox" setup, and our old girl (9 year husky mix) has a seperate fenced area, 10+ feet from the run.
  5. terrilhb

    terrilhb Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 11, 2010
    Very good post. It is so true. I have 4 dogs they are good with my chickens but they are never left alone with them. If the chickens are out I am right there with them. In Oct we had a dog break into our coop and it just killed 12 of them. It was horrible. My dogs chased it off. Did not know who the owner was. Alot of stray around here. (That is how I got my 4). The dog got away that morning and came back that night. We did have to SSS. Did not like doing it but where we live we do not have animal control. And noway to know who the owner was. [​IMG]
  6. GallusGal

    GallusGal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2008
    I agree with the message about always watching dogs with chickens. I feel the same way about dogs and young children/infants; I don't care if you have the most sweet, gentle dog in the world: you don't leave it alone with a baby. We have made the mistake of considering dogs to be little furry people, and they aren't. They may be domesticated, and we may love them like family, but they are still predatory animals... and there is ALWAYS a chance that something can set off an instinctive behavior that can cause harm or death to a pet or young child.

    However, I disagree on them not being predators, just as I disagree on predators killing only what they eat. Dogs are definitely predators, however, we've selectively bred them for thousands of years, and one effect of that is that many breeds have either the behaviors of a perpetual puppy, or a heightened prey drive. Both can result in a "kill kill kill!" response to small animals, one because their play is inherently too rough for delicate little critters, the latter for more obvious reasons. As to if they eat what they kill - seems to depend on the dog; some do (boy do mine ever; I'm lucky to find PART of any animal that wanders into our yard), some don't. Basically, we've created a perverted version of a predator.

    ... Or almost. If a natural predator is put in an environment with overly abundant, easy to kill, confined prey (ie a chicken coop) it often puts their prey response behaviors on the fritz and they will kill WAY more than they can eat. I'm sure everyone's seen posts here about a fox that got into a coop and killed 30+ birds; it happens because a predator is being presented with an unnatural predator/prey interaction and its instincts don't know how to cope with it.

    Basically: chickens are attractive prey to predators wild and domestic, so it's up to us as their stewards to protect their safety
  7. Peck Johnson

    Peck Johnson Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 26, 2011
    Greene County NY
    I do not agree.

    Well, actually, I do agree, but only to a certain extent. We have experienced canine attacks (never by our dogs) on several occassions and lost birds. "Man's best friend is a chicken's worst enemy."

    That being said, our Maremma has been loose with the chickens day and night, incident free, for over 2 years, unsupervised 99% of the time. I can only hope that a tragedy doesn't ever occur but in our case we have to trust that he is doing his job to guard them and will not use them for sport.

    I think that whether a dog will kill depends partly on the breed and also the dog's environment, purpose, and training.

    I would not trust most typical dogs that are pets. But a dog that is bred and trained to protect is a different matter.
  8. Mervin

    Mervin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2010
    Central Pennsyltucky
    I might be a teency bit evil but...Sometimes, early in the morning, when some irresponsible lack wit let's the dog out to go to the bathroom unattended, I chuckle out loud when the dog runs off yelping after touching it's nose to the electric fence around my coop. I do not find it nearly as humorous when a local skunk does and makes a stinking (literal) mess of the backyard though.
  9. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2010
    Ahoy there... I want to speak up for the few exceptions that are 100% trustworthy!

    Whatever the figures (and it's probably 95% untrustworthy) the fact remains that some extremely adaptable *and* trainable *and* well bred dogs will never, ever kill farm stock.

    The real problem is that something like 99% of people don't choose wisely for their circumstances and then don't train (or supervise) correctly once they've chosen. You can make a non-suitable dog fairly reliable if you train and/or supervise fully, but it's an uphill battle if some slight circumstance changes.

    I would say that a small subset of sheepdog types (and some of the toy breeds, and some guardian breeds) *can* have what it takes. Even there you have to select from a litter; you have to pick the softest natured one and it has to be highly intelligent (so it can distinguish family from wild birds) and very, very tractable. Who does that, seriously?

    No wonder dogs kill livestock... But I'll stand by mine, she simply won't, not ever. [​IMG]
  10. The Funky Chicken Dunce

    The Funky Chicken Dunce Out Of The Brooder

    Have to agree with the above, I had a collie when I was a kid that wouldn't harm a fly, much less a chicken. She'd let my bunny crawl all over her, parakeets, kittens, you name it. She wasn't raised with those animals and I didn't train her or anything. She was submissive to every dog she met, and avoided conflict whenever possible. Another dog even attacked her and she didn't even defend herself. Some dogs just are that way. I've seen plenty of gentle dogs with chickens, one even was a "mother figure" to a chick and raised it! There are exceptions to every rule, and especially if you have a herding breed with strong mothering instincts you have it made. [​IMG] My current collie would never kill a chicken and behaves with them when I am watching her, however she is very "herdy" so I would never leave her with them alone because she could run them to exhaustion. But then I have never tried much to trained her not to so who knows if I did try, she might leave them be. I know my hound/terrier mix would kill them immediately, needless to say they never meet. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011

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