Dogs and chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by blackdog79, Mar 23, 2017.

  1. blackdog79

    blackdog79 Out Of The Brooder

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    I know this topic has been covered before, but I haven't got answers on what works so I'll ask again. I have (or had) a small flock of 5 hens. Had two dogs, a pure Rottie and lab pit mix, last summer added another pit rescue to the mix. The new dog has taken to chickens in a bad way, worked through the fenced run (literally through the fence) and chases them around. Never harmful until recently. In the last month she has killed two of my hens. Just recently got another clutch of pullets so I'm quite concerned, though they are currently safe in a cage in the barn I'm worried about putting them into the outside world. I Will be greatly reinforcing the fenced run using goat fence instead of poultry net around it. I still want to free range them though (at least when I'm home), so has anyone had luck with shock collars to train dogs away from chickens? For what it's worth my Wife witnessed the second attack and the lab mix, which is trained as a bird hunting dog, chased off the attacking dog and guarded the injured hen until she expired. He has taken the role as protector of the flock and has killed two opossums that have tried to get into the coop. Somehow he knows our birds are friends, just not sure how to instill that knowledge into the new dog. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. eggbert420

    eggbert420 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Pit bulls and chickens don't mix well especially if the dog is over 6 months old. Once they kill a chicken the will want to keep on killing them. I have raised bull dogs and had to make a choice between them or chickens. Now I have Great Pyrenees and catahoula hog hunting dogs. Both seem to gaurd chickens.
     
  3. Louise Waffles

    Louise Waffles Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 2 pits, both rescue. They are amazing dogs, and I love them more than anything. I really do. But I will never, ever, EVER trust them with my chickens.
    I learned a lot about dog training while working with a pit bull rescue and a pair of FAMOUS! BEEN ON TV! dog trainers, and some really great dog trainers who were not famous (but still awesome), and that prey drive is one thing that just will not stop. For me, anyway.
    They will be fine for a time, but a running chicken will trigger that prey drive and pit bulls are tenacious. It takes complete removal from the situation to calm them.
    The thing is, you can use positive reinforcement to encourage the dog to ignore the chickens, but those chickens? They will cluck and squawk and be chickens, and that PREY DRIVE....it will kickbinnand anything you say is just static to that dog.
    So yes, I love my pits ever so much, but I will never trust them with my flock.
    I am so glad you have a rescue dog. It's an awesome friend to have. But I would rely on management, not training, as far as the dogs/chickens thing goes. I'm not saying it's impossible, I just think it requires a lot (so so much) of training and expertise to teach a dog that chickens are not prey.
    This is my opinion. I'm not a dog trainer or animal behaviorist. I've kept/ worked with/ rescued dogs for years, favoring pitbulls. I know my dogs' limits and manage them well. I could go on and on about their intelligence and willingness to please their people, but in the end I would never trust them with my flock. Cesar Milan himself could give me the okay, and I'd be all "No, I think I'll just keep things as they are, Cesar."
     
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  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Pit bulls, generally are easy to train. Harden your chicken keeping area so dog cannot get in. Consider using hotwire for that. Light duty charger will get job done even with stubborn dogs so long as dog zapped while trying get through something else. Then start working with control over dog possibly using a leach. Once dog responds to signal for stop, then you can start process of taking dog into area with chickens and correcting when dog acts improperly. With good control, soft verbal command possibly coupled with a tugging on leash is a good start. First objective means dog ignores birds while you are present. I strive for dog that can be left with birds around clock without supervision which usually not realized until dog about 2 years old. Killing a chicken or chickens does not mean much with respect to end product. Having multiple dogs dogs complicates process greatly.
     
  5. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, you can use a remote electronic collar to teach a dog to leave chickens alone. I trained all 3 of my dogs with ecollars. I'm a certified dog trainer and teach people how to train with them all the time. It most definitely isn't just a matter of zapping them when they chase though. You need to introduce the dog to the collar away from distractions, teach them the behavior you expect from them, layer the collar stimulation over leash guidance so that they understand that their behavior is what turns the stimulation on, and, most importantly, they know exactly what they need to do to shut the stimulation off. Without that learning process, the training will very likely backfire resulting in poor results and a confused dog.

    All that being said, every dog is different and some require more training that others. For some dogs, the allure of the hunt/chase is really strong. It takes a lot to convince them that there is no advantage to chasing the birds and they can slip very easy back to unwanted behavior. Usually the owners decide that the collar and training is just one piece of a larger management plan. Other dogs readily accept that chickens are off limits and never look back and those owners can have a greater level of trust for those dogs around the birds.
     
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  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    My dog is very strong willed. Has a prey drive. I have her on an E-boundary collar, and she's learned exactly where the boundaries are, how long she can challenge a boundary before getting a shock, and she has even learned that if she is quick, she can go out of bounds long enough to snatch an acorn and run back before getting zapped. Before last winter, I was working with her and chickens, letting them out to free range, while she was out. She would leave them alone, unless she saw them running. Then... irresistible. Last week, I was working in the run, and had left the coop door open b/c the sun was shining brightly. Dog out on E-collar, her boundary didn't go close to coop. No problem, right? Except her battery apparently needed to be charged! I came out of the run, just in time to see her saunter outside of coop after taking a leisurely tour of coop while the flock was also in the coop! No ruffled feathers! I bought her a training collar, and hope to continue her training when the weather warms.
     
  7. blackdog79

    blackdog79 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the all the input. I'm not new to dog rescue (pitties and rotties mainly) and training, or poultry raising. I've just never encountered a dog with such a high prey drive, nor have I ever had to resort to using a shock collar before. It is partially my fault because I allowed them to free range while I wasn't home. The collar will arrive tomorrow and I will begin training her, hopefully she isn't a lost cause. What confuses me is we have cats at home as well and she has a tiny kitten that is her best friend, it will literally sleep on her back at night and she is fine with it.
     
  8. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Which collar did you get? There is a world of difference between the various ecollars available. A good quality collar will have a large number of settings that will let you dial in to your dog's own working level.

    Please don't just strap the collar on, pick an arbitrary setting and try and use it to discourage the predatory behavior. That is not how to best train with it.

    Many people who use the phrase "resort to using a shock collar" have a notion that it is introduced as punishment in the way a collar correction would be. They imagine they will wait for the chase to begin, initiate the stimulation once the dog is actively engaging in the predatory behavior and a high level will be needed. That's why they've avoided using one--because they are afraid they will have to light their dog up like a Christmas tree. While one can use it in this manner, it is very sloppy and not the most effective way. The collar should be introduced at a low level that the dog can just perceive. Here is a good resource on using the ecollar for "crittering" training.
    http://www.loucastle.com/crittering
     
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  9. blackdog79

    blackdog79 Out Of The Brooder

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    TalkALittle thank you for the link, I will be reading over it this evening. I will resist the urge to set the collar to full power and hit her with it even though I am thoroughly pi#!├Ěd off at her, I do know that can easily backfire. I have begun to reinforce the coop to keep them safely inside while I'm not home, and when I am I'm not honestly sure what the best method is yet. I actually did think that waiting for chasing to begin before initiating stimulation would be best though it seems that I may be incorrect in that assumption. I'm open to any direction in proper way to train her. I also do understand that i will not be able to allow the flock to free range workout supervision as long as she is around.
     
  10. blackdog79

    blackdog79 Out Of The Brooder

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    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017

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