Guard Dog for ducks and geese

Ducks and geese7

Songster
Nov 20, 2018
77
59
101
Gallup, New Mexico
I have a couple of blue heeler pups and I was wondering if it would be okay to leave them with the ducks and geese so they get use to them. Should I leave them with the ducks all day and night? And how would I make them good guard dogs for my ducks and geese? Any suggestions would be helpful. I need the dogs to protect them from predators at night so should I leave them with the ducks and geese in their house.
 

Michael P

Chirping
Nov 20, 2017
117
232
86
Dallas, Texas
Blue heelers (a.k.a. Australian cattle dogs) are a herding breed, not a livestock guard dog (LGD). As such they are bred to move and control stock, not guard it. Some herding dogs will guard livestock, but heelers generally have too much drive and tend to harass or chase stock when bored. This is especially a problem with poultry because it is so easy for a dog to injure a bird. It is always good to start with puppies, but even they need supervision for a long time--a flapping duck is just too tempting to chase.

Now if your ducks and geese are in a night pen and the dogs are outside the pen, the dogs most likely would chase away any predator that came close, or at least make an awful lot of noise.

True LGD breeds, like Great Pyrenees or Anatolian shepherds, should be raised from a very young age with the animals they are supposed to protect. This means living in with the stock 24/7. This is how they bond with the stock and come to regard them as pack members never to be hurt, and always protected. Well trained ADULT herding breed dogs sometimes can be trusted with poultry unsupervised, but their primary bond is with their humans and other dogs, not the livestock. They will be unhappy if confined with the livestock all the time.
 

Ducks and geese7

Songster
Nov 20, 2018
77
59
101
Gallup, New Mexico
Blue heelers (a.k.a. Australian cattle dogs) are a herding breed, not a livestock guard dog (LGD). As such they are bred to move and control stock, not guard it. Some herding dogs will guard livestock, but heelers generally have too much drive and tend to harass or chase stock when bored. This is especially a problem with poultry because it is so easy for a dog to injure a bird. It is always good to start with puppies, but even they need supervision for a long time--a flapping duck is just too tempting to chase.

Now if your ducks and geese are in a night pen and the dogs are outside the pen, the dogs most likely would chase away any predator that came close, or at least make an awful lot of noise.

True LGD breeds, like Great Pyrenees or Anatolian shepherds, should be raised from a very young age with the animals they are supposed to protect. This means living in with the stock 24/7. This is how they bond with the stock and come to regard them as pack members never to be hurt, and always protected. Well trained ADULT herding breed dogs sometimes can be trusted with poultry unsupervised, but their primary bond is with their humans and other dogs, not the livestock. They will be unhappy if confined with the livestock all the time.
I do have adult blue heelers that don't bother the ducks and geese at all, I just want to the puppies to be the same but I want them to be more protective of the ducks. The adults don't chase them.
 

Michael P

Chirping
Nov 20, 2017
117
232
86
Dallas, Texas
Like everything with dogs, it is a combination of socialization, training, and individual temperament. I've had good results with Australian shepherds and English shepherds by exposing the puppy to poultry early, but always on a long line so that any chasing or nipping could be stopped immediately. At the same time I encourage the puppy to bark at and chase any potential predator, which for us includes raccoons, opossums, feral cats, bobcats, coyotes, and hawks. This is tricky, because on the one hand you are encouraging territorial and aggressive behavior toward some kinds of animals, while suppressing prey drive toward other kinds of animals. Having adult dogs that respect the poultry will be a big help.

Our 12 month old border collie is doing very well, but I still don't leave him with the ducks unsupervised for long. Years ago I had a border collie that was a joy to live with--smart, well behaved, affectionate. But if you left him alone with the chickens he would kill every one he could catch. And if he was alone with them for more than 10 minutes, it meant ALL of them.
 

Cayuga momma

♡Ducks♡, enough said.
Mar 13, 2018
2,382
7,407
462
Western NY
I think it has a lot to do with their temperament. My Rottweiler was 2 when he was introduced to my 3 week old chicks. He took to them immediately. It's strange, because he hates any kind of bird in the yard, except for the chickens and ducks.
I got lucky, but I think in normal circumstances it is all about temperament and training.
 

DuckyDonna

Crossing the Road
Aug 26, 2018
5,222
16,682
806
Dallas, Georgia
I agree with both Cayuga momma and Michael P. I have both a border collie who's 3 and an Anatolian Shepherd who's very old. The vet thinks she's probably pushing over 12. She appeared in our yard at the end of March 2017 and we made her part of the family since nobody seemed to know who she was or where she came from. She is beautiful! We had both dogs when we introduced ducks into our life. They are both good with the ducks and wouldn't hurt a feather on them.

As Michael says, the border collie is a herder and although I could leave him in the duck run with them all day he wouldn't hurt them but he would go crazy because he's got way too much energy to be cooped up in a duck run all day. He needs to have a "job" that includes running full blast. He is also very very smart and pretty much does what he's told to do. When he is bad and gets scolded, which is very seldom, he sulks for hours. Not all "herding" dogs have his temperament or smarts but we are retired and we've spent a lot of time training him 24/7.

The Anatolian Shepherd, on the other hand, is content to lay inside the duck run all day, sleeping and watching. She's brought us gifts of dead possums a few times and she's taken care of the raccoons in the yard too. She was especially proud of the ground hog she caught in the middle of the day a couple months ago. She was in the duck run with me all day yesterday and when she wasn't sleeping she was alert, watching and looking ever so regal.

I think the behavior has a lot to do with the training of the dogs keeping in mind what they are bred to do. It takes a lot of time!
 

chickens really

Crazy Mother of Goat Kids
Premium Feather Member
Sep 8, 2015
62,577
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The Funny Farm....Alberta, Canada
I have a couple of blue heeler pups and I was wondering if it would be okay to leave them with the ducks and geese so they get use to them. Should I leave them with the ducks all day and night? And how would I make them good guard dogs for my ducks and geese? Any suggestions would be helpful. I need the dogs to protect them from predators at night so should I leave them with the ducks and geese in their house.
Don't leave the pups in with them because without training a game of chase will end up in a bunch of dead Birds. Puppies can't be trusted to know or stop themselves from chasing or killing something.
My Sister had Heeler pups and kittens ..They pups killed the kittens. Train the pups as you did the adults first.
 

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