Free Ranging With Active Dog?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by hiddenflock, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. hiddenflock

    hiddenflock Chillin' With My Peeps

    So I was thinking about raising some free-range chickens. However, we have a very active dog who free-roams the property...and loves to chase things like rabbits. There is absolutely no way to keep this dog inside a fence, so if the answer to my question is "no", there will be no free-ranging chickens. If the chickens have a lot of space to spread out, is there any way that the dog and chickens could get along? Thanks. [​IMG]
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    My gut tells me that this dog has a high prey drive, and that the chickens would be soon caught and killed. It is possible to teach a dog to leave chickens alone, but leaving a high prey drive dog with those fluffy squeaky toys does not seem to work out.
  3. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    X 2

    It *could* work out - until the day it doesn't, and that day will be disasterous whether it comes in the first week or a year from now (I would look for it to be sooner rather than later given your description of the dog). Perhaps a compromise of confining the dog for an hour or two at a time to allow the chickens some ranging time daily or even just a few days a week would be possible?
  4. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    ^ This is what I do most of the time. I have one very active, high prey drive dog and one lazy couch potato. I don't trust either of them to be alone with the chickens. If the dogs and chickens are both out at the same time, so are we. If I'm not watching them, I can't correct any bad behavior.

    Anyway, with a lot of training it *might* be possible. But even the most trustworthy dogs can be tempted by something as "fun" as a chicken.

    Best of luck!
  5. hiddenflock

    hiddenflock Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for all your suggestions! Judy (the active dog) is a highly trainable dog... so *maybe* I can teach her that chicken chasing = bad. But, like howfunkyisurchicken said, I'm not sure she could withstand the temptation. She's a hound dog. Chases every rabbit, deer, and even penned chickens. I like OleGreyMare's suggestion. Maybe I'll try that, or just keep them in chicken tractors. I was planning on raising them for meat, and I don't have them yet, I haven't even ordered them. We do, however, have guinea chicks that we got the other day, and will be free-ranging them. They're for grasshopper control, but I've heard they make fine meat birds, so maybe I'll raise the keets that they inevitably have as free-range meat birds :) Will our adult guineas probably be able to evade the dog?

    Thanks again for your replies!!! :)
  6. learning2farm

    learning2farm New Egg

    Jul 25, 2014
    Thanks for the question, I was wandering the same thing since my dog chases every bird, squirrel and lizard it sees.
  7. 20eas12

    20eas12 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 9, 2014
    We have dogs that kill everything that comes in our yard even cats so when we built our chicken run we made it secure. When the dogs would stare too long we would scold them. After 3 wks we turned the chickens out to free range and the dogs completely ignores them. Haven't had a problem in the 12 wks we've been doing this. We also don't feed the dogs until after the chickens are in for the night because our one dog has serious food aggression issues.
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I do it with two dogs, both higher energy and love to chase rabbits and squirrels. They are hard on all wildlife but took a lot of work to get to point where they can be out with birds 24/7. Even though breaking dogs of harming birds is not difficult, it takes time when starting with pups. Expect dogs to be 18 to 24 months before trustworthiness realized.

    Work to calm dog around birds to prevent stressing birds as dogs running a rabbit causes all sorts of distraction. To do it correctly you need several acres and most of that needs to be for dogs simply to burn off steam.
  9. jonalisa

    jonalisa Codswallop!

    May 28, 2013
    My Coop
    We have the same issue. We are thinking of having a set time (2 hours before dusk) where we free range the chickens with the dogs in the house. This way, they get a couple of hours to explore and will automatically head into the coop at dusk.
  10. kada6305

    kada6305 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 13, 2013
    Kersey, Pennsylvania
    We have 2 dalmatians and a lab. one of our Dalmatians chases rabbits, deer, ground hogs, etc that he finds out or property. But he never chases the chickens or ducks. Actually eh chases other animals away from the coop. It all depends on the dog and training. He's been around the chickens and ducks since they were day old. And he was about 8 months. Our other Dalmatian doesn't even look at them. Now our lab...He will ignore them one minute then surprise attack the next, But he can't be trusted off leash anyway so he is always on leash, or on a 20ft leash away from the chcikens. Good luck!

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