How do I teach my dog?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by gdgross, Jul 17, 2010.

  1. gdgross

    gdgross Chirping

    Jun 26, 2010
    So - three 3-4 month old pullets, and one 85lb retriever/aerdale mix. Excellent dog, but VERY interested in the chickens. I've had the dog since she was a pup, and the chickens are newcomers at about a month or so.

    Usually when I let them free range in my yard, if they are close to her she watches them intently, otherwise she's paying attention to me mostly. When they're in the coop, sometimes she will go up and just stare in the door for 20 minutes.

    Yesterday I let the chickens out when I got home from work and left my dog alone with them in the back yard. Went inside to do some music practice, and about 20 minutes later, I heard some commotion: ran outside, and my dog was chasing one of my chickens, which was hiding in some ivy by my back fence. By the time I got there the dog actually had the chicken in her mouth! Needless to say, I made a lot of commotion, smacked the dog really hard and she let the chicken go, luckily unharmed.

    Usually when she gets scolded by me she's very sheepish and puts her tail in between her legs, etc. This time my yelling didn't seem to faze her as much as usual, which has me a little worried.

    Any ideas? I dream of these happy pictures with chickens running around a nice quiet dog, but I fear it may never happen in my yard.

  2. nzpouter

    nzpouter Songster

    Jan 19, 2009
    new zealand
    a lot of correctons... leash with a choker whenever you do chores around the chickens, you need to get the chickens use to the dog's presence as well.... running flapping bird can start the chase instinct in any non properly trained dogs...
  3. Annabella

    Annabella Songster

    Apr 17, 2010
    Smacking doesn't work with my dog either. He does the glazed eye look with me. The flapping and squaking of chooks just sends him into a different sphere. I punish using "time out" - he gets locked into the bathroom for bad behaviour. (Never longer than 2 minutes, as long as he is sitting there quietly) Absolutely hates it and is meek and mild (for a while) afterward. [​IMG]

    But training involves constant supervision and the dog must never be allowed to chase or look like chasing the girls. It has taken months but today my dog was in the chook run with me showing no interest in the girls - just checking out for any leftovers. Then he came over with me and just helped me rake etc - Good Boy!! [​IMG]

    I will not trust him for a long long time yet - if ever - but he has come on leaps and bounds.

    Good luck!
  4. justbugged

    justbugged Head of the Night Crew for WA State

    Jan 27, 2009
    It is a bad combo. You will have to supervise every occasion. The terrier wants to kill, and the bird dog wants the bird. Chicken Killing is what this dog is bred to do. The dog sounds like it was there first. Now you as the owner will have to separate or choose.
  5. crazy chook

    crazy chook Songster

    Apr 8, 2010
    Langwarrin, Victoria
    Its hard, but you can do it. Lots of patience and corrections.

    I must admit it was quite different and easier teaching my puppy and getting him used to the chickens. especially since they were there first. compared to introducing a grown dog to new animals on his turf or so to speak.
  6. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    Quote:I agree that it's going to be very difficult to overcome instinctive behaviors. Perhaps you could call a local dog trainer in your area to get some advice, and maybe some training sessions?

    Even after training, I would be hesitant.
  7. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Songster

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    Retrievers are bird dogs. It just isn't fair to the dog to expect her to ignore her instincts.

    It's kinda like the story about the spider who needs to get across a river and another critter helps, AFTER extracting a promise not to be stung. Half way across the spider stings the critter and they both drown. As they're going under, the critter says, "Why did you do it?" And the spider answers, "What did you expect? I'm a spider after all."

    Well, your dog is a retriever after all.

  8. gdgross

    gdgross Chirping

    Jun 26, 2010
    Thanks for the replies everyone.

    I do have a backup plan in case they never get along - I built a nice gate to an smaller enclosed area of my yard, and I can let the chickens out only when my dog is locked inside if need be.

    I would really like to let them all out together though - better for my chickens to free range to their heart's content and it would be great if I could trust my dog around them...I realize I'm going against her instincts though.

    When they start flapping it does really get her attention - otherwise she kind of seems to ignore them unless they're close - like within 10-15 feet.
  9. sred98

    sred98 Songster

    Jan 18, 2008
    I don't really have any experience with that breed, but do have a Boston Terrier with a high prey drive. I got her at a year old and had 2 baby chicks. What I did was show her what she was allowed to kill. She can kill any squirrel or frog (not toads) she can catch. She can also chase the "big flying birds" away (hawks, falcons, etc). It might not work for your dog, only you can be the judge of that. [​IMG]

    Good luck!

  10. GammaPoppyLilyFlutter

    GammaPoppyLilyFlutter Love Comes with Feathers

    Jun 26, 2010
    Labradors are bird-hunting dogs. Luckily, they were bred to keep the bird alive and not kill it, but shock is bad too. The only way I can think of is to introduce the chickens to the dog when it's really young, so it will get used to them.

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