Family Dog, New Chickens...any tips on creating harmony?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by saylernsaxonsmom, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. saylernsaxonsmom

    saylernsaxonsmom In the Brooder

    Jul 27, 2010
    Hello all! I'm very new to the world of chicken and would love some help on our newest issue. Our Great dane (2 1/2 years) is a big sweetie, but seems a bit too interested in our chickens. He watches them through the windows, barks a bit if they get too close to the sliding glass doors, etc. Nothing aggressive, but I don't trust him as far as I can throw him. I see dogs around chickens all the time, but I'm not sure how to go about it. Our boy has not been raised around chickens. He's as new to it as we are. Any ideas on how to desensitize our beast? I'm sure our girls will rest easier!

  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    How well is he trained? Does he know the "Leave it!" command?

    I would strongly suggest hyper-vigilance and never leave him with chickens unsupervised until you learn he is safe with them. My DACHSHUND was a chicken killer and I had to work with him constantly to get him to be safe around the chickens. He's still not safe unsupervised around chicks or young chickens. The grown up chickens (and rooster!) taught him they weren't easy marks, and my two ducks reinforced the "don't mess with us" rule.

    Now, the only things I have to worry about with Zorro is his annoying habit of stealing goodies FROM THE CHICKENS when I put out treats for them, and he does chase the bantams.
  3. texasgal

    texasgal Brood with an Attitude

    Apr 18, 2009
    A good fence...
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Ahhh...very handsome! I have a blue baby dane (12 weeks), so I have an advantage in training from the get-go. Plus my golden retriever is chicken-trustworthy, so she sets a good example on ignoring them (unless food is involved, and then she sneaks in for the steal). But other than when he gets a case of the zoomies, my boy is doing really well [​IMG] so far.

    Here's how I trained my goldens; maybe it'll help you...
    First week or two, hold him by the collar and sit among your chickens. Require him to sit or down. Sprinkle treats nearby to draw the birds in fairly close. Have a command word ready (gentle/nice/whatever you use) and use it liberally for reminders. Next phase, have your guy on a short leash and do the exact same thing for about the same time period/same command (him sitting or down). 3rd phase, walk him on leash among your chickens, always giving him the command word. By the way, I did this all inside my run at first, so I don't know whether that's an option for you. Step four, same as three except off leash, you sticking close by his side. Work that into free ranging if you do it. For me the final step was to pretend to be working outside with the girls free ranging in my yard, acting like I'm paying no attention (but really I'm on it like a hawk) to watch the dog's reaction(s).

    I hope something along these lines will work for you. He does have to see you working with the chickens quite a bit, so that he knows they're part of your pack. If your dane is a people pleaser, I'll bet it will work... [​IMG]
  5. saylernsaxonsmom

    saylernsaxonsmom In the Brooder

    Jul 27, 2010
    Thank you very much for your training routine!

    Yes, our Dane is a big pleaser. He's very gentle and well trained (as all Danes should be), but it just takes one slip up. That's not a scenario I want to think about! I've been slowly introducing him. Last night, I came in and found my hubby had one of our chicks walking on Atticus's back! The dog didn't mind, but I freaked out. It seems like he is most observant when the chickens are left to free range in the backyard. Chicks who are carried indoors for one reason or another aren't a problem. Strange.

    12 week old Dane? You're busy! We plan on getting another this January, a blue as well. I'm sure she will be better being raised with chickens from the start.
  6. kitchwitch

    kitchwitch Songster

    Feb 3, 2009
    Greensburg, Pa
    We just let Cheyenne hang around them from the about time we brought them home. The first couple weeks she wasn't allowed in the basement at all and I know it piqued her interest as to why I was always down there then one day i brought her down to see them and she was interested but the interest quickly waned in favor of finding an old squeaky toy she hadn't killed yet. As they grew older and started roosting on TOP of the brooder Cheyenne would still g down with me and sniff at them and watch them and now she loves running circles around the run herding them up. I don't know what she'd do if she was face to face with nothing to separate or hold her back, but they've been around so long I don't know that she'd care all that much.
  7. sara_eliza

    sara_eliza Hatching

    Jul 27, 2010
    i love your big cute dog. we have a german wire haired pointer who loves is bred into him. we inherited him when he was a year old... shortly after we started raising chickens. well, little did we know, that he would get into our coop and kill all of our chickens. we were devastated. well, we did not replace our chickens. we had to figure out a way to protect the chickens from our bird dog,...not to mention, our cats too. we have 3 young children and live in a very very rural area. dog training was not an option. as much as i hated it, we opted for the shock collar. i hated to do it. but we got one and put it on him. we tempted him with the cats. we would tell him "no" sternly and then shock him once if he chased the cats. he only needed to wear the collar about a week, before he got the point not to chase the cats.

    then, this year, we decided to try with chickens again. our dog, "tag" is 3 now. we built a brand new coop and put electric wire all the way around the outside of the coop. we were thinking that this would deter our dog, the neighbors dog and any coyotes brave enough to come up. well, when tag saw the chickens he went crazy, barking and carrying on. well, then he got close to the fence and it shocked him. he ran straight away. it only took one shock and he could care less about those chickens. we started free ranging the chickens in the beginning of the summer. we watched tag closely with the chickens. he was a bit interested at first. then, we picked up one of the hens and carried it over to tag while i was holding his collar. the hen pecked him hard right on the nose. that was the end of it. he doesn't want anything to do with the chickens. he will let them walk right in front of him and around him and he doesn't even lift his head.

    we haven't used the shock collar on tag in years. we probably would have had to try it with the chickens if we didn't have the option of the electric fencing around the outside of the coop. but, it works. and it works quickly. then, you can pretty much throw it away. if nothing else works, give it a try.
  8. nzpouter

    nzpouter Songster

    Jan 19, 2009
    new zealand
    you need to train both species of animals..... the dog need to get use to the bird while under leash/ supervision, the chooks need to be calm to the dog's presence...

    Consistency, routine, time and common sense will see you right..
  9. shortnsweet1025

    shortnsweet1025 In the Brooder

    Jun 11, 2010
    I have two pit bulls that are around my chickens all the time. My male Mack could care less about them. He completely ignores them. My female on the other hand will go up to the coop and stare at them and lick her chops. If I let them out by her she stands ever so still and watches them. She hasn't tried to hurt them, but it kinda makes me nervous. She's only like that when I'm around though. If I'm not outside, she completely ignores them. ..Strange.. They do know the "leave it" command though and every time I see her a lil too close for comfort, I use it and she listens =-)
  10. fwschrom

    fwschrom Chirping

    Jun 20, 2010
    Hayden Idaho
    "you need to train both species of animals..... the dog need to get use to the bird while under leash/ supervision, the chooks need to be calm to the dog's presence... "

    Good advise.....

    I am working with my Corgi currently. It seems to be working, I expose him to the chic's, while on a leash, I also open the door to the coop thats through the barn and let him observe them. Mine doesn't have ill intent he is a herder and 50 stray not herded birds drives him nuts, plus I think he wants to play with them. Exposure on both sides, ( my chic's pretty much ingnore him right now ) and training with very strick rules is settling down my pup.

    Every dog is different but this is working for me. My dog has NO interest in the turkeys, he stuck his nose up to the wire I think and one pecked him.

    I should say my dog is not very determined on my birds either more of a casual interest when the opportunity presents itself.

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