How Do You Cure a Chicken Killer?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by BlueCamas, May 19, 2012.

  1. BlueCamas

    BlueCamas Songster

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    Milwaukie, Oregon
    We recently got a new dog, Mia. She is a 70lb sweety with a monstrous prey-drive. She has killed 6 of my chickens, and had a close call with another the other day. At first it was the chickens that were getting out, so we covered out run. Then she broke into the run, so we secured the fence. Now she runs at them through the fence trying to get them riled up. I'm afraid something else will happen and I can't afford to lose anymore. We have tried tying the dead chicken to her neck for a day, she didn't care. We have tried smacking her with the dead chicken, she rolls over but obviously didn't get the message. I have tried scolding her every time she stares at a chicken. She is probably the most bone-headed dog I've ever met, not the smartest either. She doesn't seem to understand punishments and never seems ashamed even if we catch her in the act. I really just don't know what to do.

    We have another dog who has a prey-drive as Mia, but she listens to us and knows to stay calm around the chickens and I can call her off of a chicken if she starts chasing them. I know it's a "dog" thing to do, but Mia just gets so worked up over the chickens that once she is after them, there's no calling her off unless you tackle her. I know I will never be able to trust her around chickens (or anything prey-like for that matter), but I'd like to be able to have some control over her and prevent any more chicken deaths.

    Doesn't anyone have experience with chicken killing dogs? Training tips? What am I doing wrong? What might be a good method for training Mia in general, in the home where she was previously, she obviously didn't get a lot of one-on-one training time.

    The chicken murdering doofus...
    [​IMG]
     
  2. AZBootsie

    AZBootsie Songster

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    My Coop
    I don't have an answer for you, but will tell you my stories.,,,, successes and failures

    We had a German short hair male that killed several chickens. He was a really dumb, always happy kind of guy. My husband tried everything with no success. The chickens free ranged, I worked full time and had toddlers to take care of. There was no time in my life for a chicken killing dog. I re-homed him.

    About 20 years ago my Newfoundland female had a Rooster and wouldn't let go. In the heat of the moment I grabbed a shovel and whacked her across the back. The shovel broke and she let go of the Rooster. The rooster came into the house so I could keep an eye on him and the dog got kicked out. I scolded her every time I saw her. She knew she was in trouble and slinked away from me for a week or so. Not that I would advise beating your dog. If I wasn't so out of my mind angry, I would have never done it. It did work. That dog lived for 13 years and she never touched another chicken.

    Last year my Catahoula male and Shar Pei female killed a little Cockerel. I didn't see it happen, but am pretty sure they were in on it together. For about a week every time I went into the coop I would grab one of the dogs and put them on a choke collar. I made them stay right with me and corrected them each time they even looked at a chicken. The Catahoula caught on fast and I can trust him alone with the birds. The Shar Pei turns and heads away when ever a chicken comes near....but watches them from a distance. She is fine when I am out there, but I wouldn't trust her alone with the younger birds.

    I wish you luck. It is a tough problem to have. [​IMG]
     
  3. TinaK

    TinaK Songster

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    I'm going through a similar experience... except my dog acts like chickens don't exist when I am around. He does not rush at them and will let them peck around him when he snoozes during the day.

    He was bred for hunting and every now and then he cannot help himself and goes and takes down one or two. Generally I find them 'played with' and still alive... but he took 3 of my best last week. I wanted to blame foxes because it only ever happened in the evening just before lock up time.... but I kept finding the dead bodies uneaten and eventually caught my dog in the act. He was jumping out of a 4.5ft yard and then back in again!!! I saw him do it with my Pekin pullet in his mouth!

    He now has a chain and also a dog run for when we are not around. I wish I didn't have to worry because he is so good at keeping the predators away.

    I will be interested to hear from someone with ideas [​IMG]
     
  4. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Songster

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    Sullivan, IL
    You may not be able to cure her, but you should at least be able to train her to leave them alone in your presence. She needs to not be able to even get started. This means she is on a leash attached to you any time she is anywhere near the chickens. If you aren't there, she needs to be in the house or confined to a secure kennel. You need to get her stopped before she starts, because once she starts the chase the "thinking" part of her brain is turned to "standby" and she's running on her little lizard brain (the hind brain, which is based on instinct, and once a dog starts operating on hind brain it is **** near impossible to get them to listen to any command, including ones she knows well, until the adrenaline rush is over and they calm back down). Right now, the sight of the chickens running around like, well, chickens, is just too much excitement for her. And the chickens can't help but run around like fools either because of instinct and past experience (they now see her as a predator and are going to react accordingly). You will need to work on basic obedience and getting her to focus on YOU and ignore the chickens. And to do this you need to start at a distance where the chickens are a distraction, but not irresistible. Then, as she gets solid in her focus on you, slowly move closer to the chickens as you work. This will help her focus on you, but should also have the effect of desensitizing your birds to her presence. After all, you can only panic at the sight of danger so many times without anything bad happening before you decide that maybe the "danger" isn't really that dangerous after all.
     
  5. AZBootsie

    AZBootsie Songster

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    Congress, AZ
    My Coop
    [​IMG]
    Smart advice!!
     
  6. BlueCamas

    BlueCamas Songster

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    Milwaukie, Oregon
    Thank you guys, especially you AinaWGSD. I'll start by doing that. She is totally the kind of dog that just loses her little mind when she gets into the chicken mode. When I let her outside she bolts straight over to the run and goes nuts if the chickens are out. Ever time I see running over there, I yell and she slows down and trots back to me, so there is progress (I think). Thanks again, I'll let you know how everything works out.
     
  7. dainerra

    dainerra Crowing

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    I've answered the question so many times, that I just cut and paste so I'll apologize if you've read it before.

    raining.   training.  more training.    Just like cleaning the coop and scooping poop and all the other jobs that come with having a pet.   The only thing more necessary to a dog than training is food!
     
    You already know that he is excited with the chicks.   Find the closest distance that the dog first notices the birds in the brooder.  This might be in another room if he is one to constantly glance at the door.    Put your dog on leash and get some extra special treats that he only gets for this work - bacon, grilled chicken (no spices!), hot dog chunks, etc.     When the dog glances toward the birds, say his name and "leave it"    If he looks at you, give him a treat - if he doesn't, give a light pop on the leash (think tap on the shoulder).  When he looks at you reward him.  
    You can also teach him "watch me" the same way.   You can practice this at random times though out the day.   If you have a couple extra minutes while you're watching TV or whatever, just say his name, pause, "watch me"   When he makes eye contact, then reward him.    You can also (if you get in the habit of keeping a small treat in your pockets) catch him looking towards you say "watch me" and then reward.  Or just praise him verbally.
     
    Once the dog is reliably paying attention to you and the birds at a distance, move a little bit closer.   If he absolutely blows you off, you're too close.  Just back up a bit and begin again.   Eventually you will be right amongst the birds.    You can then start at a distance or with a long line (20' leash or so) and work from there.    I never ever leave my dogs/chickens loose unattended together.  
    I don't even trust Rayden
    [​IMG]
    I don't mean I constantly hover over the dogs when they are out with the birds, but I am in the area and aware of what they are doing.   Think of it as a small child.  Even though you've taught them not to play with matches, would you leave them alone in the house with matches scattered all over the floor?
     
    The most important part of the training is to set the dog up to succeed.   Don't give him a chance to chase the birds.  Don't give him a chance to disobey.  
     
    ETA:  The best thing about teaching "leave it" is that it works for everything.   Drop something on the floor and don't want the dogs to touch it?  "leave it"    See dog running toward a snake?  "leave it"     Lots of training and work, but it pays off!
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. TinaK

    TinaK Songster

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    Australia
    We finished our dog pen (10ft high fences) and new kennel today. So hopefully the dog won't take out my chickens. It's simple. He can't be trusted unsupervised so in the mornings and evenings when I feed out, the dog can come out. It is unfortunate for him that he can jump nearly anything and I can't feasibly fence off an acre in the manner I'd need to. The way he is built prevents him from wearing a collar and he slips it unless I do it up to choking point.

    He is really good when we are there. He wouldn't dare go near a chicken... and he doesn't rush at them like the dilemma poor Peeka52 is dealing with! I just can't leave him for 30 mins even fenced in a 4.5ft yard. He is young and I don't blame him one bit.

    I don't lock my chickens up. They free range during daylight hours. They are show stock. They need sunlight and natures goodness to ensure they shine.

    I feel sorry for the dog, I really do.... but I can't sit in the yard 24/7. My Jack Russells, now they are different. I have had them for years and they run from my chickens.... but will take down any fox or rabbit that runs by!

    edited to add: I don't only worry about my chickens. We are due to lamb soon and have a lot of native wildlife like Koalas. I can't risk the dog killing stock or wildlife when I am not around.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2012
  9. Rosto

    Rosto Songster

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    The first thing to do is what has already been mentioned--training! "Leave it and Watch me" are both great tools for a dog with a high prey drive. Believe me I understand (raised Ch. Bluetick Coonhounds for years). Another option for a dog that is to use an electric fence line around the coop or even a chicken in a cage or coop. This is an extreme, last resort, kind of tool you may opt for. This cage MUST be tough enough that the dog cannot get into it. Set the coop up so that it is charged. Put a rubber mat inside for the chicken so it does not receive a shock. Then walk your dog into the area on a long leash. Repeating NO! Leave it (see directions on training above). After this is successful. Go to phase 2: Release the dog. If they go toward the cage/coop say no leave it. Reward. Then go back a few feet and watch. Let the dog make their own decision. If they get to the cage and attempt to get the chicken they will get the shock. Don't warn the dog let them believe that the chicken is somehow responsible. You don't want to be associated with the shock. Once they get the jolt and back up. Say No! Leave it, and have them come to you. Reward them when they return to your side. Repeat this in different locations so they don't think it is in that one locale. By using verbal cues and allowing the dog to see that it isn't as fun to catch chickens. They can be taught to respect boundaries. You can also use an electric collar with the same process, just give a jolt when they begin to move in for the attack.
     
  10. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    I would start by using some of the training methods mentioned here. In the meantime, I agree completely with Rosto about the hot wire around the run. I don't even consider it a last resort for high prey drive dogs. Let this dog get a good zap. That will stop her immediately from wanting anything to do with that general area. I have only had one dog that I didn't raise from a pup who had a very, very high prey drive and was intent on getting at my chickens in their coop/run. I let that dog investigate, she found the wire with her nose. She left the coop area and was never, ever seen near it again. Various neighbor dogs have done the same thing, not a single one has ever again approached my coop/run. Very effective.

    Continue with your training but with the understanding that it is probably highly unlikely you will ever be able to trust this dog unless you are right there.
     

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