How to train dogs to like chickens?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by NaturalChick, Jul 1, 2008.

  1. NaturalChick

    NaturalChick In the Brooder

    Jun 24, 2008
    We have two sweet mixed breed pups (15 months old) that liked to chase robins, we have almost stopped that instinct but I am afraid that when we bring home our new pullets and cockerel (14 to 17 wks old) they will get obsessed and want to chase them. The pups have the run of the 2+ acres but we want our chicks to be free range. Anyone have advise as to helping them be friends?
  2. jessica117

    jessica117 Songster

    Apr 23, 2008
    SE Tennessee
    First off, you have to make sure that the dog never figures out how tasty chickens are. Once they taste one, you'll never break them. With my two dogs, I kept them tied while the chickens were out free ranging for the first few weeks. If they even went to sniff a chicken they got a swat with the news paper and a firm no. Within a week, neither one of them wanted anything to do with a chicken. The ausie has to be reminded every once and a while, but the chow could care less.

    You will also probably want to start the free ranging slowly. Only let them out when you can be there to supervise for the first month or so. That will help them to figure out where home is, and you can also be there to watch the dogs.



    I thought of one other thing, be careful about catching chickens around the dogs. They will try to help. If a chase ensues (most of my hens are friendly enough to just walk over to and pick up, but I have a couple that will run for all it's worth) I have to stop and either get DH to hold the ausie, or tie her up so I can get the chicken. We came very close to loosing one that way before I figured that out, If I had grabbed the dog a half a second later, she would have had a mouth full of little Spaz.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2008
  3. dangerouschicken

    dangerouschicken Will Barter For Coffee

    May 6, 2007
    Columbia Gorge, OR
    My dogs tried to eat my chickens. I no longer have dogs.
  4. lewisfarmgurl

    lewisfarmgurl Songster

    May 6, 2008
    south carolina
    I have Rough Collies and they like to herd animals like the cat, squirels, and rabbits. They don't attack them just try to make them come to the back door of our house.

    Anyway, a friend of mine said they broke their dogs from chasing and attacking rabbits in their yard by doing this:

    They tied a stuff animal like looked like a rabbit to some rope. Then one would have the dog on a guide line while the other would drag the stuff animal around to make it move. EVERYTIME the dog went to get it or show interest in it instead of heal and sit it got a firm NO command and a tug on the leash. When it stayed in a heal or sit without showing interest in the fake rabbit it was rewarded with a GOOD BOY and affection.

    This took about 2 weeks of CONSTANT work daily but now they no longer go after rabbits in their yard. I'm working on mine and so far the male has it but the female is being hard headed. ( my chicks aren't here yet so I have time yet to work with them)
    I use fishing line and milk jug with feathers I glued on it for a chicken and a stuffed easter chick for a baby chick. I glued small feathers on the stuffed one too so it wouldn't look like a toy to them.

    If this doesn't work with the female like it is with our male I have the option of putting her in the kennel yard while the chicken are out and about. I wont take a chance of having the chicks harmed.

    Good Luck and I'm sure there will be alot of good advice from others here on BYC.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2008
  5. annaserv

    annaserv In the Brooder

    Jun 17, 2008
    northern Wisconsin
    We have two dogs that have accepted they are on the bottom rug of the pecking order with the chickens.

    I really thought there would be problems with our German Short hair (bird dog), obsessive chaser of squirrels, rabbits and other small animals, (except cats- cat are above her on the pecking order too). But I made sure I was supervising her when she was young around the chickens. (okay, she also wears a shock collar, which made it easier). I don't even want her snooping in their coup when they are out roaming. I started off letting the chickens outside the last couple hours in the day and spent the time in the yard, observing. I shocked her one time when she decided to enter the coup and never had a problem since. Now she's actually afraid of the chickens.

    Our Cattle dog, we got at the age o 2, was a little trickier. He first started rounding them up, and of course the chickens started to squawk and flutter about, exciting him. He needed to be disciplined several times for showing a bit too much interest in them. I really didn't trust him for about a month around my layers. We also broke his natural instinct for trying to herd our cattle. Our cattle are not chased and herded, their led, usually with food involved.

    Now both dogs act like the chickens don't even exist and get out of the area when they are approached by them. Kind of funny seeing the chickens chase the dogs out of their area.

    I think they certainly can coexist but they need constant supervision in the beginning. My biggest problem is I sometimes forget my chickens are out and friends or family come over with their dogs. If I remember I just don't let them out in the evenings or try and herd them up into the coup.
  6. summerwindsfarm

    summerwindsfarm Songster

    Jun 5, 2008
    Stroud, Oklahoma
    We have 2 livestock guardian dogs that are outside 24/7 with all of our stock and 2 english shepherds that are inside/outside dogs.

    We keep our dogs leashed around the birds while they are learning and spend a LOT of time in the yard with the poultry all around us. If they even think about chasing a bird they are verbally corrected. If they try to they get a leash correct as well as a verbal one. We also hold chicks and chickens down to them and talk to the bird as we stroke it and tell them that its *our baby*. They're allowed to nose it gently but any roughness or biting is corrected. When your pups cant be right with you..then keep them crated or kenneled..preferably away from the birds. Its easier to teach them not to chase the birds *before* the games start than it is to teach them that they cant chase the birds *after* they learn that its fun.

    I also want to comment that its not true that once a dog gets a taste of eating a chicken you cant break them from it. The key is to make the dog think that the chicken is hurting them when they try to bite it. With a bird dog long ago i used an e collar..worked great. My livestock guardian dogs at right about a year decided that poultry were for eating and not protecting. Their thick fur made an e collar ineffective. So i put snake shot in my 22 and hid. Whenever they went after a chicken they got plunked on the butt with a load of snake shot. 2 plunks per dog and they would not now ever consider touching a chicken. My chickens take their food and they just let them. Those evil chickens bite ya hard in the butt you know <grin>.
  7. penelope77

    penelope77 Songster

    May 6, 2008
    northeast oklahoma
    my dogs wiped out my first set of chickens except for two. i'm doing leash correction and keeping the two inside more that start the hunt/trouble. my lgd only bothers them when the others do so if he's alone he's usually fine. i say usually cause i believe it was his mouth i found my turkey in. i also use a riding crop to smack them on the nose with if they aren't on the leash. i really like the riding crop and they really hate it.
  8. freerange freaks

    freerange freaks Songster

    Jul 21, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    You are working against instinct instead of a learned behaviour and this is going to require a lot of and repeated training.

    The key is the dog cannot in any way be rewarded for chasing the chickens (ie. reward being the thrill of the chase). This means that if they even look in the chickens direction give a correction. As soon as the dog has been rewarded he will only try his hardest to do it again. Make sure your pooch is only out when you are able to give your full attention.

    E-collars are great but they require quite a bit of back ground training for the dog to be able to understand what the stimuli means. A can with a bunch of washers in it works well to. It is pretty simple to condition them to the noise. Have your dog sit in front of you and place a piece of food in front of them, as soon as he tries to eat it firmly say no, take the food away and throw the can on the ground where the food was. Repeat this several times until he doesn't go for the food. You should be able to use the can to throw at the dogs feet now when he is doing something that you don't approve of and have a negative association with it.

    That prey dive is a very strong instinct. Good luck.
  9. NaturalChick

    NaturalChick In the Brooder

    Jun 24, 2008
    I'm feeling so much better about being able to have them co-exist peacefully. They are really smart and good pups for their age, I just know that the instinct is so strong.

    Just today they have found where a chipmunk is feeding under a bird feeder and know how to sneak around the corner and go tearing through the flower beds, which I know that they know they are suppose to stay out of. It's like with some things they just lose their minds and all training is out the window. Arrg!!!

    But like I said I it gives me hope to here success stories and how to work on it in ways that have worked.

    Thanks everyone and keep 'em coming!
  10. dixygirl

    dixygirl Songster

    May 14, 2008
    I had a toy poodle that i could put on the bed with my baby parrot, leave the room come back hours later and the two of them would still be sitting there playing.

    He was put to rest at a ripe old age. Now I have a medium size white terrier mix that looks like a mini sheep dog. If he even sees a chick he starts licking his lips and bucking. He bit a baby once and it died. I think some dog's are more inclined to be safe with your babies and some just have hunting instincts. It is a very rare dog that does not want to eat a bird so if you find one keep it. The down side is that dog is probably not very good as a watchdog. I would not even trust training techniques with these animals because in the end if you are not looking their instincts will eventually kick in. [​IMG]

    The shock collar is a very good tool to try during supervised visits along with a strong leash. You can try to train them shocking them at the first hint of a transgression. But in the long run, a lot depends on each particular dog and its natural instincts. You may have to just keep them separated like I do.

    Good luck with that.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2008

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