Dogs with Open range Chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by CityBredCountry, Sep 15, 2014.

  1. CityBredCountry

    CityBredCountry Out Of The Brooder

    39
    1
    36
    Sep 1, 2014
    I have a half aussie shep and half black lab. 1 1/2 years old puppy still learning.

    She is a pretty good dog and she runs free on about 2/3 acre with an underground fence. We have open range chickens that have started to migrate into her territory.

    I was hoping that her aussie side would take over and herd them, it looks like her black lab side is taking over and she is more of a bird dog.

    I have been on her today to stay away from them, but she got a hold of one and had it pinned down. I was not sure if she was playing or getting ready to eat it.

    What should I do to train her away from them? Shock Collar?
     
  2. csaiz100

    csaiz100 Out Of The Brooder

    67
    2
    41
    May 22, 2014
    New Mexico
    I am on 1 1/3 acres, I have my back 40 and my side yard fenced, that's where the chickens and the sheep are, my dogs are on the other part of the property, learned that the hard way. But them my dogs live in the house are not out in the dog yard unsupervised. As far as the shock collar you can do more harm then good unless you get a professional trainer to "train" you to use it correctly
     
  3. txredchick

    txredchick Out Of The Brooder

    17
    0
    21
    Jun 13, 2011
    I can only free range, supervised & about an hr before roosting time. Predators & several dogs have me in this routine - though they have a huge run and large coop, still like to get them out on our ranch a few times a week.

    I have one Aussie shep, and while I'd like to trust her, not a chance. I'll catch her stalking them in their run....even biting on the wire. Her, a few bird labs & a border collie do not mix with the hens. They are beyond curious, but can't risk it. They are inside when I free range - it's just how I have to navigate keeping our hens safe.

    RE: shock collars, we have carved 20. Acres of our ranch for the dogs with an invisible fence. We had to do this to the labs liking to roam to surrounding ranches. They were professionally trained & after 6 months their collars went off....6 yrs later, they respect their "line". Our hens are within that area, close to garden & home - not sure I will ever let them co mingle.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    17,732
    2,355
    466
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri


    You can break dog of messing with birds. Fact dog just penned bird makes job easier. You will need to spend time out with dog and birds to get dogs hunting side into action where she considers the chickens to be "trash" or not worth her time. Other threats or critters you can encourage her interest in. Ideally you want in the end to have entire range chickens use within that of dog if protection against wildlife to be maximized. The shepherd may provide some dog aggressiveness to detour smaller dogs. Since dog is near end of puppy stage you have a short amount of time for major play related injuries directed towards birds.

    I use two German Pointers as poultry guardians so it can be done. The dog's smarts can hurt or be your friend. Dogs with chickens can be work but in the end can make things more fun.
     
  5. cafrhe

    cafrhe Chillin' With My Peeps

    331
    12
    101
    Apr 23, 2014
    Western central NJ
    I have 2 german shepherds and from early puppyhood, they had to learn that they cant chase 'my' stuff. I have cats and the gsds are high drive working dogs. I was very firm with my corrections when they wanted to chase cats. If voice or scruff shake wasnt good enough, they would get a prong collar and drag leash (I think I only had to do that to my 1st puppy 15 yrs ago--my training got better since then!).

    Introducing to the chickens--both dogs (singly) got to say Hi to the chicks with me being protective (in my hands and using body to deflect dog). If they showed too much interest, they got growled at. The dogs were always allowed to safely supervise our interaction with the chickens. I did make the mistake of thinking I could get the dogs to herd the chickens a little. That caused a huge conflict of instincts. They were being very good not even noticing the chickens (not looking at the chickens is deliberate doggy language), with me asking them to follow and move after the birds, I ended up with my young one jumping on one when it darted. I yelled no, he backed off immediately and I decided not to be stupid any more. My dogs will range out with the chickens (eating chicken poop.....) but will not acknowledge the birds. They do, however, alert me to chicken noises and some predators. I do use the dogs as predator deterrent and so far so good. If a dog tells me that he hears something, I immediately respond and let him out. If the chickens are out, the dogs will completely ignore them as they look for the cause of the noises (sometimes one of my stupid cats--so now the dogs are learning that they can, indeed chase the cats lol!!)

    With out seeing your dog's intent (some do want to kill, some are merely turned on by the movement of a prey animal), I cant really say an e-collar isnt necessary. But I would start with less aversive methods. My attitude is that the dog must always know what is yours and part of the pack. I would start holding chickens with the dog near you (hold safely so dog cannot get the chicken) and correct the dog verbally if she shows too much interest. Technically she cant even sniff if you dont want her to. Next step would be a long line and loose chickens. Let the dog wander and if she is too close to a chicken, leash pop (as hard as necessary to get her attention) and a verbal correction. See how she reacts. Herding dogs have high prey drive (plus herding instinct) that is trained and controlled. Most herding dogs still need to be trained and shown limits before they stop making 'mistakes' (harassing the livestock)

    Never allow unsupervised time and dont let the dog make a mistake that you cant back off of (killing a chicken). If things go well on leash, keep a long drag leash on and make sure you monitor the interactions. It is always the human's fault if something bad happens. After 6 months of interactions, I really trust my dogs at this point. But they are still dogs and if something happened, I will be disappointed, but have to take responsibility. Good luck!! An Aussie/Lab mix sounds like it could be a great working dog!!
     
    2 people like this.
  6. JessicaThistle

    JessicaThistle Chillin' With My Peeps

    894
    139
    166
    Mar 27, 2014
    Oregon
    I have a German Shepard and a Pit Bull that are both wonderful with my chickens, even small chicks. I raise layers and Cornish X meat birds. For quite a while we only let the dogs around the chickens while we were there to watch. Then we could correct the dog immediately if it looked iffy. Actually, it didn't take very long before both dogs seemed to be just fine and did their own thing or followed the chickens around cleaning up the "gifts". My Shepard even feels it is his duty to stay outside and chicken sit rather than come in when I ask him. He looks at me like "Come on mom. You know I have a job to do out here." It's very nice that I can leave my chickens out with the dogs in the yard and feel confident that I will come home to everyone doing just fine.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2014
  7. CityBredCountry

    CityBredCountry Out Of The Brooder

    39
    1
    36
    Sep 1, 2014
    Thank you @JessicaThistle ! :) We'll certainly work with her some more. We are doing what we can with her and we are glad that she only pinned it. :) Any suggestions as to training her for this, or maybe where to look for this kind of training? TIA
     
  8. CityBredCountry

    CityBredCountry Out Of The Brooder

    39
    1
    36
    Sep 1, 2014
    Thank you all for your help! We'll get to working with her right away!
     
  9. JessicaThistle

    JessicaThistle Chillin' With My Peeps

    894
    139
    166
    Mar 27, 2014
    Oregon
    I raised my chicks when I first got them in the house. I exposed the dogs to them while I held the chick and let them sniff them. I showed my dogs that we loved them and snuggled them. They soon learned that they were "part of the pack". My chicks soon jumped out of the brooder and explored the house. Whenever the dogs seemed to get after them we corrected them with a NO, EASY!!

    When we put them outside in the coop, we left them in for awhile and the dogs got to go around the coop, sniff and experience them. By the time I let the chickens out to free range the dogs knew they were family. I still sometimes have to correct my dogs but I think it is more that they look concerning than they actually really are. I comfortably leave them out in the yard together for several hours at a time with little worry.

    I think that you are better off training yourself because your dogs need to see your chickens as part of their pack. Unless a trainer comes to your house, they aren't going to be able to do that. You have to let them experience your chickens and show them that you care for them and that they must care for them too. It will take time and diligence. For awhile only let the dogs and chickens out when you can be there to correct the dog. It shouldn't take long to get it unless it is a very stubborn dog.
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by