Flock-Pack Integration

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by PTFowl, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. PTFowl

    PTFowl Out Of The Brooder

    73
    0
    39
    Aug 16, 2011
    WA
    Does any one have dogs free ranging with chickens? If so, how long did it take? My goal is to eventually have my two dogs mingling with hens in the yard and wonder if this is realistic. I'm thinking it could take upwards of 6 months--i'm willing to be patient and work at it slowly over time.

    The dogs are two Australian Shepherds who are 3 years and 8 years old--the miniature one is 16 pounds and the other one is around 45 pounds. Five chicks are arriving the first week of September and the coop is on the way. The coop with run will be self-contained/enclosed, but eventually my goal is to let the hens free range in the securely fenced yard with the 2 dogs, at least for part of the day when i'm home. The dogs have a doggie door and go in and out of the house as they please. They have a moderate herding instinct but have never lived with birds. The little one sometimes likes to chase birds when we go on off-leash outings. They do an excellent job of keeping critters out of the yard such as deer that used to hop the fence when we first moved in. The dogs are moderately well behaved and know basic commands. They're very protective of their property and in time I want them to be protective of the chickens too. I plan to work with the dogs, introducing them to the chicks a little bit every day so that the dogs and chicks develop a relationship right from the start. I get that I have to impress on the dogs from day one that the chicks are my property and need to be respected--just like the dogs know not to destroy my shoes or other belongings. I'll have to see how it goes and realize it will take everybody time to get used to each other. What do you think? Is it reasonable to think that over time dogs and chickens will be able to mingle together in the yard without constant human supervision?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    453
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Our 3 dogs wander the property freely with the chickens. One is a puppy. The older ones were not difficult to train at all; they are mutts who respond very well to commands. Many people have trained dogs successfully for this -- but many others have tried and failed, or felt it was pointless to try. It sounds like you have a good plan, though. I'm not familiar with specific breeds; I've always owned mutts. Well, except the puppy is supposedly a pure lab, maybe 3 or 4 months old now; she barely looks at the chickens. I've also had lab mixes with the chickens.

    That said, I think it should be accepted that even a well trained dog could one day decide to "play" with a chicken and shake it to death. And, many people on here have had their dogs "get out" and kill their chickens. Like yours, my dogs do a good job of keeping other critters off the property, so I accept the tradeoff. No losses to dogs in about 3 years.

    Good luck!
     
  3. PTFowl

    PTFowl Out Of The Brooder

    73
    0
    39
    Aug 16, 2011
    WA
    Thanks Judy, so there is hope. Three years with no fatalities and everybody free ranging is very encouraging.

    I prefer mutts too and probably wouldn't have the Aussies if they hadn't come from a rescue org.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    17,740
    2,366
    466
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I am using a German short-haired pointer (typically used as bird dog in US). He was kenneled with some dominques indoors for three months then released to run with free range flock while under supervision. He was problematic with birds he did not know requiring some control efforts on my part. He is now, at 9-months old, fully trustworthy and patrols property and flocks very well. He is just coming into courage and has already driven off his first red fox. Further maturation required to tackle other large dogs and coyotes. Having multiple dogs as you have with greatly enhance your efforts. I will have to acquire a second dog to ensure coyotes will be driven off every time without harm to dog(s).
     
  5. PTFowl

    PTFowl Out Of The Brooder

    73
    0
    39
    Aug 16, 2011
    WA
    A working breed actually getting to be a working dog, with a twist on the meaning of bird dog. It sounds like your efforts with him have really paid off. He still gets to be bird focused, but now it's about herding and protecting instead of flushing them for the kill. And he still gets to keep the predator aspect of his hard wiring with looking out for and running off intruders. Would be interested to hear what you end up with for the second dog and how it goes.
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    17,740
    2,366
    466
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    He does not herd but he does protect. He is being trained to hunt squirrels and rabbits. I could probable get him to point quail as well. It is very easy to distinguish bird species based on smell. Take time to smell different birds species.


    If account forwarded by SOURLAND is accurate, then German short-haired pointers where used as all round dogs, not single use as typical of most present day hunting dogs. I think most dog breeds actually breed for mutiple use until last couple hundred years or so.
     
  7. The BackYarder

    The BackYarder Out Of The Brooder

    13
    0
    21
    Aug 21, 2011
    Left Coast
    I have a lab hound mix. It took about two months of training. At first she would growel at the chickens. Then she became the mother of the yard, and the chickens. She is that way today. About two years ago she did go after a few of my baby chicks. After a some disipline she if fine but I don't let her around my babies anymore.
     
  8. Mrs. Fluffy Puffy

    Mrs. Fluffy Puffy Fluffy Feather Farm

    15,959
    38
    323
    Jan 26, 2010
    Texas, Panhandle
    We have two outside dogs, one is a Border Collie (Milo), and the other is a 2 1/2 m/o Australian puppy (Rusty). Milo is a herding dog, so he will herd the chickens, he won't hurt them, he just herds them. After we got Rusty things changed...when Milo starts herding chickens Rusty thinks they're 'sposed to get'em (kill them)..I've almost lost several birds to Rusty biting them and then carrying them around in his mouth trying to kill them.

    ~ Aspen [​IMG]
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    17,740
    2,366
    466
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Mrs. Fluffy Puffy :

    We have two outside dogs, one is a Border Collie (Milo), and the other is a 2 1/2 m/o Australian puppy (Rusty). Milo is a herding dog, so he will herd the chickens, he won't hurt them, he just herds them. After we got Rusty things changed...when Milo starts herding chickens Rusty thinks they're 'sposed to get'em (kill them)..I've almost lost several birds to Rusty biting them and then carrying them around in his mouth trying to kill them.

    ~ Aspen [​IMG]

    Rusty will be easy to break of habit but will be easier if he is isolated from other dog while with chickens. The herding aspect is not desirable either unless done under very controlled conditions.​
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by