Fox attack, dog did nothing

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by BrookesChooks, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. BrookesChooks

    BrookesChooks Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 19, 2012
    VIC, Australia
    My neighbour visited today to tell us she has had 2 fox attacks in a week, both just before sunrise, losing one chook. she has a young, fit, large collie x dingo which slept through both of them. She had to call it over to follow the scent once the 2 foxes had jumped the fence and got away.

    Our chook pen and run is on the other side of the fence from where all this happened. We have two small dogs, a bordie collie x jack russel, and a shaggy little grey terrier, we think she might be a cairn terrier or something.

    Our chook run is open at the top, wire flared out underground but only 30cm deep and 20cm out.
    Chook pen has a plywood sliding door which we close at dusk.

    Can i trust my dogs? And are my chooks safe free ranging the back yard during the day, or even in the pen during the day?

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
  2. Darkwings

    Darkwings Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 9, 2012
    Atascadero, CA
    None of those breeds are "guardian" type dogs. The most you can hope for is that they will be alert and start barking and scare the predator away. I wouldn't really depend on them to protect your birds though.
    1 person likes this.
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Breed is not all that important although I would think the dingo blood would make for a fox aggressive dog. Age of dogs may be important and did they work their butts off night before, possibly chasing foxes off?

    I presently use bird dogs as working type guardian dogs. They excell at dealing with wildlife including red foxes. Work ethic relaized may have been partially promoted by how I reacted the first few times fox visited. I encouraged dog to go after fox, raccoon or whatever and dog quickly saw such activity to be fun. Dog and I also worked around birds a lot enabling dog to learn chicken communications indicating alarm. This resulted in dogs that constantly monitors flock by sound even while sleeping. Dogs also have a way to get away from birds to recharge mind so as to stay sensitized to alarm calls.

    Try working dog around chook pen as it might stimulate defense of area. Also if dog runs free at night when birds are closed up, pen confine dog nearby so it rests. Some nights my dogs run critters until dawn then sleep bulk of following day. Such tired dogs are slow to respond to visitors.

    Do you have roosters in flock? My dogs pay particular attention to them.
  4. BrookesChooks

    BrookesChooks Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 19, 2012
    VIC, Australia
    Thanks for your reply.

    The terrier is a great watch dog, and during the day while the chooks are free ranging she runs through them to chase pigeons away, as well as possums, lizards, mice, other dogs, etc. She loves the chooks, always wagging her tail when she walks around with them.

    She sleeps in the outside laundry, which is adjacent to the chook pen, about 3m away. You can see it on the left of the photo.


    We leave the door open so she can jump into action if needed. Last night we did hear some barking at around midnight.
    We also have room for the dogs to patrol around the outside of the run, about 50cm wide space between the run and the perimeter of our property.

    We don't have any roosters. 6 chooks, only one laying at the moment, the others are very close (20-22 weeks old).
  5. dainerra

    dainerra Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2011
    what people don't know is that, unless you take steps such as centrachid did to encourage the dog to attack predators, it actually goes against every fiber of their nature for most breeds. The human is the leader of the pack. The subordinate canine's job in a pack is to alert the leader who then faces down the danger.

    LGD breeds are carefully bred since the beginning of the breed to have that protective instinct and to put themselves into danger to save livestock. That said, even then it isn't an automatic instinct - it takes some molding and shaping to make the dog into a true and trusted protector. Unless you go to a breeder who specifically tests his stock and breeds with working ability in mind, it's likely that you will get a dog that is no better LGD than any stray cur that shows up on the side of the road. In any breed, there are more dogs that DON'T fit the needed criteria and wash out of the work that should come naturally to them.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Mountain Man Jim

    Mountain Man Jim Chillin' With My Peeps


    I think it’s encouraging that you have two dogs and that the terrier is protective of the area and the birds; that really is a good start. From your picture, it looks like you have some really good protection for the birds. I would check your fencing at the ground level for signs of digging or of the fox try to open a hole in the wire. You might want to consider adding wire fencing horizontal along the ground and attached it to the vertical fencing to prevent digging under the fence. Also, if the chicken wire is all you have on the lower part of the vertical fence, you might consider adding welded wire over it; chicken wire is very easy for a predator to rip open.

    Do the dogs actively watch over property? Do they take the high ground and simply survey the area beyond the fence? Do they tend to make territorial barks (a lone series of barks at seemingly nothing)? Do these behaviors increase at dusk and into the evening? These are some of the behaviors one will see with an active LGD and they help to ward off the predators. Many of the guard dog breeds will naturally have these instincts. I think these natural traits are very difficult to train for. I know that our life has changed a bit since losing our LGD. But, when she was with us, her behavior compared to the other dogs was amazing. Sure she barked a lot at really nothing but she was serious about guarding the property. When dusk came, she would take her place on her mound and watch, listen and bark. The other dogs settle down for the night, until it was time to eat

    A little story about how not all dogs are fit for chicken guarding. When we first got our chickens, we had two retrievers. They were good dogs and acceptable the chickens as our other pets instantly. So one day we are all outside; my wife, me, the chickens and the two dogs. My wife and I were working near the back door of the house; the chickens were not far away. From behind my wife we hear a squawk and turn to see a fox running off with a chicken. The dogs never reacted. Foxes are the definition of stealthy.

    RE Breeds: I believe that breed isn’t the beginning nor end for determining dog behavior but … it sure the heck helps to get you in the right ballpark. In choosing a dog I use the breed traits to narrow down the list of which dogs to consider and then when one of these types of dogs shows up at the dog shelters I schedule a visit. The breed traits help me to understand a little about how the dog will behave in our home environment but, it’s the face to face evaluation that determines if the dog has the right traits for me and our home.

    Last edited: Oct 8, 2012
  7. Chickenlover20

    Chickenlover20 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 4, 2012
    My German shepherd dog (Jasmine), Jasmine would barks alots at night because she KNOW there predators out there and my dad always let her out to chase them off.
    One day there an fox chased my hen, i had to chase it away. then my dad let her out and she sniffing around like a ****** dog that are ready to attack.
    She's best dog ever, she love to playing with my chickens even my rooster would let her to be around the hens.
    He would attack her if its was too much for the hens.
    or if both of my dogs, i have dachound too, she loves to stealing chickens breads then my rooster would kick her with his spurs to tell her to leave bread alone for the hens to eat.
    My dogs are such pigs through i love them!
  8. aprophet

    aprophet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 12, 2010
    chesapeake Va.
    you are over run with fox and mice in your part of the world , kina makes me glad I do not live there , most fox I trap acutally hold the dogs at bay while eating their food in front of them
  9. farmer boy

    farmer boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    i have a australian shepherd and a little bit of border collie , a pitbull and a husky to stay around my yard i only had one fox attack or raccoon idk .. but i trust all my dogs but cody my husky he kinda looks at the chooks as a little snack if im not around ... i want to teach my australian shepherd to like herd my chooks lol keep them in a area thats safe and so the don't leave the yard but idk how to train her for that lol
  10. what did I do

    what did I do Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2012

    If the fox has tasted chicken you have a problem. I don't think your run would offer much protection. The dogs might keep a fox out during the day, unless the fox is hungry. The fox has to clear the wooden fence to get into your yard on all sides, right? Is your coop built well enough to keep the fox out at night? I'd go over the coop thinking like a fox to make sure it can't get in at night.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by