How Do I introduce our 90 pound chocolate lab to 3 chicks?

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by maestra, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. maestra

    maestra Hatching

    Jul 21, 2010
    Greetings all,
    I am new to this board, and as such, this is my first post.
    We are seriously thinking about getting 2 to 3 chicks for our backyard/6 year-old twins/family-life learning experience.
    We are homeschoolers and look to find learning in all opportunities, and are currently being called to become 'chicken care-takers'...[​IMG]
    My main and first pressing question is the following:
    We have a darling, loving, gentle, yet almost 90 pound energetic chocolate lab...
    What is the best way to go about having a dog that is used to being the only animal in the backyard get used to and accept this likely new addition to our family?
    Our current thoughts are to of course keep the chickens in our home-made coup during the day, and then put the dog in our front yard at certain times throughout the day so the chickens can have free range of the back yard and help with pest/weed control in our organic garden....
    Forgive any nievity expressed in this post... Clearly, I am totally new to this....
    Thank you,
  2. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    Well, since he's an outside dog, I'm not sure. We have a rough coat collie that goes everywhere in the house with us so it was only natural that she would go with me to check on the babies. I let her stick her head in the brooder and sniff and watch the chicks and we'd both sit on the floor while I'd pick each one up and love it for a few seconds. No problem with her; she understands that the chicks are 'mine'.

    Labs are pretty hard headed. Some have a really strong prey drive. If your's just doesn't seem to get it, you'll probably have to keep them separated.

    But, you might try this: I'd probably start with letting your lab see the chicks from a distance and slowly decrease the distance between them. If your dog is trained, have him sit while you hold a chick securely in your hands. Allow him to see it and get close to it, but don't do anything to make him think you are 'offering' it to him. Keep the meeting short and positive giving attention to him and the chick. I would also teach him to eat only when I told him he could. Start the same way; make him sit. Put his food down (or a treat) and don't let him have it until you tell him 'OK, eat'. Do it EVERY time you feed him. Don't do it right before or right after his associating with the chicks.

    Here's a picture of my dog with 'her' babies:
  3. Soaring Chicks

    Soaring Chicks Soaring Hawks Farm

    Jan 3, 2010
    [​IMG] from West Vrginia [​IMG]
  4. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    I can't offer any advice for getting a dog to co-exist with new chicks since my dogs prey drive is through the roof so they are never together. But what I wanted to comment on was that if you are planning on the chickens going into your garden for weed and pest control, just be aware that they will also be joyfully eating all that wonderful produce you planted for yourself! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2010
  5. I have a delightful 92 lb lab/husky who was 4 years old when we got our chicks. Now bear in mind he is a sweet, kind dog who never wants to hurt anything (tried-seriously!-to befriend a gopher that popped up outside our tent when we were camping) but I trust him with my chickens.
    We used a big dog crate as a brooder. We had it set up in the living room and never discouraged him from sitting in front of it since it was absolutely secure. He spent hours each day wimpering at them (I think he thought the 'peep' sound was tiny puppies whining) because he didn't want them to be upset. We would take them out and hold them and let him smell them (scolding gently whem he licked them) and eventually put them down on the floor and let them walk around him under close supervision.
    He was sad when they moved outside. He tried on numerous occasions to break into the run and I worried that I had failed. But when they got big enough to come out and free range, we again supervised his being around them. If he so much as trotted in their direction, we yelled and he stopped. Eventually he began to ignore most of them (except one hen whom he followed endlessly) and we stopped supervising them. He used to be afraid of the dark unless he had human backup, but the first night a raccoon got ahold of our stupid hen who wouldn't sleep in the coop (she hid...somewhere... every night) he charged out into the darkness alon and chased it off before I was even fully awake. He heard her call out and he went to her rescue. At least 4 times.
    When an overaggressive rooster started harrassing the kids, we decided we were done with him. We put the dog inside, killed the roo outside, then put the dog out the back door while we broght the roo in the front for processing. I had him hung up in the bathroom since it was pouring that day. I intended to spare him the trauma of seeing his 'friend' dead. But he snuck back in, saw me skinning the roo and looked very sad. he whined and looked at me with confusion (not blame thank goodness) and sniffed the room. After cutting up the carcass, I cleaned up and forgot all about it. A few days later we had chicken for dinner. As I always did, I offered him the skin and fat. He smelled it, backed away, and looked at me sadly, and I could just read in his eyes what he was thinking. 'Where's the rest of it? what happened? Why did it die?" he wouldnt eat it. Ever again. My poor by thinks he's a vegetarian! He now knows where chicken comes from and he won't eat a friend. If it's cooked, he can't tell, but raw poultry he won't touch.
    BUT although he is not a problem, dogs cave in to peer pressure. Even if your dog is as good as mine, other dogs could convince a good one to chase chickens. After all, it is in their nature and it is fun. We had a friend's dog over with mine and our puppy. Four of our chickens were attacked, one killed. My dog was devastated by it, but he didn't stop it. He might even have been chasing too, we didn't see it. All I know is he saw the dead hen and was upset, even before I started ignoring him (which is how I show disapointment) The other chickens are still not afraid of him, though. They watch him like they do us, but nowhere near how they stare at the puppy- they fear him.
    So I wish you good luck, and just remember to be cautious. Socialization is important, more than anything.

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