Guardian dog or ? What would you do?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by gritsar, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I need some advice on what to do regarding one of my dogs and my chickens. Giving you all the necessary history is going to make this a long post, so I apologize in advance.
    We have two dogs. Jake is a two year old border collie confined to a extra secure section of the yard. Jake likes to chase not only the cows on this farm but neighboring farms as well; making him a good candidate for being shot.
    Charlie is my nine year old irish wolfhound mix and the one I have questions about, so here's Charlie's history:
    Charlie lives inside most of the time. She does love to be outside on cooler days. I got Charlie as a rescue when she was a year old. When I got her she had both the physical and emotional scars of the abuse she'd suffered. It was months before I could raise my hand to pet her without her cowering in fear. She is an extremely well behaved dog, but always carries that fear of messing up and being hit around with her. Charlie also doesn't bark. I've heard her bark maybe a dozen times since I've owned her. After she barks she immediately goes into that fear crouch and begs me with her eyes to not hit her, not that I would.
    Charlie had one incident with the chicks when they were tiny. I messed up and left the gate down and she was able to grab hold of a chick. She dropped it as soon as I told her to and then went and hid on her bed. The chick wasn't hurt. That was the one and only time I ever spanked Charlie. What hurt her feelings worse than the spanking was the fact that I ignored her for a couple of days. She'd come to me and use her nose to push my hand up on her head, but I'd remove my hand and tell her to go away. I haven't trusted her around the chickens since. If they are out, Charlie is inside unless I'm there to supervise.
    Since the time Charlie grabbed that chick she has ignored the chickens. In fact, if she is laying out in the yard and the chickens start getting too close she'll get up and move away.
    Charlie is very protective of me, Jake and our barn cat. Last summer when the DSD brought her dog Domino for a visit and Domino went after Kitty, Charlie was on Domino in a heartbeat and drew blood.
    Last night something happened that is making me rethink my "policy" of keeping the chickens and Charlie seperated.
    Last night the chickens were locked up in their coop and Charlie was out in the yard visiting with Jake. I heard Jake bark, nothing new [​IMG] but then I heard Charlie bark. I grabbed my jacket and flashlight and went out. Jake was looking at the coop and barking. Then I saw Charlie out of the yard, chasing something in the trees and brush behind the coop. When I called to her she came running back and used her nose to open the garden gate and come in. This is a new trick and I have no idea how long she's been doing that.
    Now for my question, at last! Do you think Charlie can be trusted around the chickens now? Has she extended her guardianship to include the chickens? If I was sure she could be trusted to be the guardian and not the predator, I'd leave her out more often thru the winter. Charlie can and will take down a coyote. Where I used to live Charlie was allowed to run with my landlord's dogs at night and she would on occasion bring home a fresh killed coyote.

  2. panner123

    panner123 Songster

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    Your dog will protect the chickens in ways you can't. When you are out in the yard let the chickens run free around the dog. I will bet the chickens can walk right over the dog. This will be the test. And since you will be in the yard, if anything does go wrong, you will be able to stop it. Most dogs only want to play with the chickens. Or they just want to chase something.
    Once the dog learns the chickens are off limits, they will ignore them.
  3. mtnhomechick

    mtnhomechick Songster

    Jun 27, 2008
    Mountain Home, AR
    My neighbors Australian Shepard/Lab mix knocked a guy on his keester last summer, trying to get to one of my roosters.

    Now, I let the chickens range for a couple hours a day and he and my dog just lay in the driveway and watch......or sleep.

    I would recommend letting him around them supervised a couple times, and if no incidents it is probably safe.

  4. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm 10 Years

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    Quote:I agree.
    My daughter had a Walker Hound. She left it with us as she couldn't have any pets where she was living. The dog would ignore the chickens but if any one came into the yard or went near the birds, she would let us know.

  5. Zookeeper9000

    Zookeeper9000 Songster

    Mar 1, 2008
    Gladstone MI
    No way will she hurt those chicks not after the last results. And if she can open the gates now then she would of got the chickens a long time ago.

    Bottom line is it's your risk so it's your call. But I would try it.
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:That's the way I'm leaning right now. I forgot to mention that the other day I went inside for a second and the chickens started crowding Charlie. She scratched at the door to be let in.
    I think I'm going to have to trust her. She's plenty smart enough to understand that the chickens deserve her protection too.
  7. sred98

    sred98 Songster

    Jan 18, 2008
    I had a similar situation with my Boston terrier. Right after I got her (she was a year old) she grabbed one of my 3 wk old chicks and took off. I thought it was dead, and she dropped it as soon as I told her to. I yelled at her and shook her collar and she never did anything like it again. Several weeks later, my 2 chickens followed me inside and had her trapped in the kitchen and wouldn't let her out. She could have easily ran past them, or jumped over them, but she knew they were "off-limits" so she sat in the kitchen and cried til I made the chickens move. Now, she runs outside with them all the time and catches mice, rats, and voles that wander into the yard. And especially the squirrels! It drives her INSANE when they eat the chicken food! She helped chase off a hawk that tried to get them.

    Obviously, Charlie can get to them if she wants to. She has accepted them as family and protects them.

    Good luck!


  8. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
    Sounds like you have an awesome dog!...the poor thing, with all the abuse he endured,,is still trusting of a human!..[​IMG]....what a lucky dog to get you for a mommy after all he's been through! only concern would be...that dogs can bite from fear..(actually thats usually WHY they bite)..and it sounds like he is a bit scared/leary of the chickens now?,,MY fear would be if they overwhelm him(crowd him,or jump on him)..he may react with a dogs natural fear instinct..and bite..even if it is a small "warning" wont be good...i would try him with them..VERY closely supervised(right by his side), and watch and see how he reacts to them in all differant situations...thanks for saving this dog!...[​IMG].., Wendy
  9. beakkeeper

    beakkeeper Songster

    Jul 20, 2008
    Quote:I agree...your doggie sounds awesome [​IMG] and she just might make a great guard dog. Only time will tell though. Maybe the chickens need to be acclimated to her as much as she does to them. My dogs will only chase things that are running (unless it's a squirrel [​IMG] and so maybe if the dog and chickens are used to each other, they won't have any issues.
    Best of luck!

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