How to train my Border Collie to herd my chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Fidgekitty, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. Fidgekitty

    Fidgekitty New Egg

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    I browsed the forum to see if this has already been posted, found simliar topics about people who want to get a BC or who have trouble with their chickens and BC but none who already have a well behaved BC that needs some advanced training.

    I have a flock of 12 chickens, ages 16-19 weeks. I also have a 2 year old female BC who is very well behaved, well trained, and supposedly has phenomenal "cow sense," (so I've been told), she just needs it focused. I can tell she wants to herd the chickens so bad, and if one of them gets outta line she's right there pushing them back into the flock. She's one of those extremely responsive, drops everything at a command to please me, types of dogs. So my issue is when I let the chickens out in the yard, it's a nightmare trying to get them back into their house. The door to there coop (basically a large bathroom sized, styled greenhouse/utility room turned coop) is near the gate into the yard, but I still have to pick them up one by one to put them back into their coop before nightfall, and they don't like to cooperate very much. Having a BC who could herd them back to their house would be a godsend, and I've got one handy who wants to help so bad. The problem is me, I don't know how to train her to herd! I don't have the money to take to her to a ranch to be professionally trained, this'll be a diy project. I've already had so much luck training her to walk off leash and respond to my commands amongst all distractions, seriously, she's Cesar Millan's dream dog. Balanced, obedient, calm, patient, loyal, and completely non agressive to the chickens.

    So anyone experienced in BC herding or had luck training their dog to herd their own flock? Please share you wisdom!
     
  2. Orange Ribbon

    Orange Ribbon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like you got a good herd dog in the making. Sorry I can't help you, I have only trained for obedience and fetch, but I sure would like to have a good chicken herder! The only way I can get one of my dogs to move chickens is to throw a stick on the opposite side of where I want the chickens to go and when they run after the stick the chickens run the other way. HA! Not a productive arrangement and definitely doesn't put them in a specific spot when needed. You might try a website devoted to training herd dogs. But if you ever get your dog on the right track I would sure love for you to post a picture of her doing her job. [​IMG]
     
  3. Fidgekitty

    Fidgekitty New Egg

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    If I can get my pup to herd those chickens I'll be posting picks ever place I can find lol. I've be scouring the internet looking for a website, but I might get stuck buying a book. But I'd really love someone's first hand experience above all else!
     
  4. christineavatar

    christineavatar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would like to know the same! I've been trying to find a way to raise a pair of puppies that would grow to be about the size of border collies not only to heard them in but to identify enough with them as 'their herd' that they would raise sand when the local predators showed up at night. I am tired of burying chickens!
     
  5. dainerra

    dainerra Chillin' With My Peeps

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    find a herding trainer. most trainers use sheep, but your dog will learn what is expected and then you just have to refresh with the birds.

    I've seen dogs herd just about everything imaginable - the nuances are different, but the technique is always the same
     
  6. Fidgekitty

    Fidgekitty New Egg

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    Quote:You know German Shepherds were originally bred as livestock guardian dogs and herders, so that breed might work. My neighbor down the street has 2 Malinois that roam around with his chickens and doesn't seem to have an issue. Border Collies, if properly socialized can be great too. They key is to get them around the chickens from the moment you get them home as a very young puppy. I see all over the internet people rave about the Anatolian Shepherd Dog for livestock, although they're a lot bigger than a Border Collie.

    I don't have the money to hire someone to train my dog for me, otherwise I would have hired a herding trainer from the get-go. Being an EMT doesn't exactly bring in the big bucks lol.
     
  7. dainerra

    dainerra Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:You know German Shepherds were originally bred as livestock guardian dogs and herders, so that breed might work. My neighbor down the street has 2 Malinois that roam around with his chickens and doesn't seem to have an issue. Border Collies, if properly socialized can be great too. They key is to get them around the chickens from the moment you get them home as a very young puppy. I see all over the internet people rave about the Anatolian Shepherd Dog for livestock, although they're a lot bigger than a Border Collie.

    I don't have the money to hire someone to train my dog for me, otherwise I would have hired a herding trainer from the get-go. Being an EMT doesn't exactly bring in the big bucks lol.

    GSDs and Mals would both be very BAD for this. Both of these breeds are meant to work one-on-one with their master, so neither breed is good for a "livestock guardian" in that sense. For that matter, a border collie would not be a good dog for that either. Again, because a "herding" breed is made to work with a shepherd. A GSD or Mal left alone will find something to entertain himself - one of the main reasons that people believe that herding breeds are naturally bad with chickens.

    Honestly, I look at it as an investment with my dog. No different than food or medical care - training is something that he needs. Besides, the trainer isn't really to teach the dog - it's to teach the owner.

    Another thing, most reputable breeders won't sell a pair of puppies. If you want them to do pretty much ANY job, they need to be bonded with something other than another dog. If you want a livestock guardian, the dog needs to bond with the flock (sheep/goats/birds). When you have a pair, they are going to bond with each other instead.
     
  8. sunny & the 5 egg layers

    sunny & the 5 egg layers Overrun With Chickens

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    I have a 1 year old border collie. She is like my shadow and follows me everywhere! She stays right with me when she is off the leash. She is great with the chickens, but doesnt herd them. The only problem with her is she is agressive towards strangers. But other then that, she is the best dog I've ever had. Border Collies are great and I will always own one from now on. [​IMG]
     
  9. Orange Ribbon

    Orange Ribbon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've watched documentaries about Border Collies and their masters herding sheep. It is a sight to see when those dogs are working 1/2 a mile from the owner and he is guiding them around just by whistling. It seems to me though, if you could get your dog to understand which way you want him to go you would be well on your way. Say, train him to go left or right by holding your hand out that way, maybe hold your arms straight out to go back, and waving to come forward. One hand up means stop. As the dog gets used to this start doing a certain whistle with each arm position. Say, one whistle for left, two whistles for right, a long whistle to go further, and several short whistles to come toward you, and then another whistle for stop. Once you get that down and you start guiding the dog around and moving him to move the chickens he will catch on to what you are doing.

    I have trained dogs with hand signals before and it is fairly simple. First teach it to sit by saying, "sit." When it gets that start putting your hand up everytime you make it sit. Pretty soon you don't have to say anything just raise your hand. Hand up = sit. Hand down = lay. Wave = come here. You get the idea.
     
  10. mandelyn

    mandelyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Seeing the finished product of a herding BC is totally different than seeing the dog as it's learning. They can be quite physical and very intense starting out, and prone to nipping. Not an issue on a cow or sheep, a big issue on a pint sized chicken. You will have to start on leash and make the moves with the dog, or train on something else and transfer the knowledge, OR, start with training on "leave it" and the nipping to have that solid prior to starting herding training.

    I had a Blue Heeler in the past and 50 some chickens. It took me 2 years to get her to where I could send her out after them when they weren't in sight and for her to return with a good number of them, going back later for extras while I held the rest with feed. The biggest thing with her was the nipping and focus... she had to learn to be patient and not rush them... chickens scatter at the drop of a hat. First thing I taught her was not to make direct contact and to move slow.

    Years later, I had an amazing dog who would move them slowly yet surely and with a good amount of success. Starting out... clumsy, easily frustrated, anxious, took a lot of man hours getting her to stay sane over those disorganized birds.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2011

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