Introducing dogs and chickens.....

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Goldencluckacre, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. Goldencluckacre

    Goldencluckacre In the Brooder

    Dec 30, 2012

    My family and I are spending our winter planning and researching as we have decided to raise chickens come the spring. This is a great family project for these cold winter months!

    We are also the proud owners of two wonderful Golden Retrievers and two pugs ..... any advice with regard to introducing the dogs and the chicks?


  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    1 person likes this.
  3. redsoxs

    redsoxs Crowing

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    I X2 what sumi advised!
    I have 2 labs and a golden retriever...and they all love to retrieve. I had the labs before I got chickens so it was a learning process for them - now they are chicken protectors when there is danger...and simply ignore them at all other times. I think they just slowly got used to the idea that these were simply new members of the family. The golden was different - got him, as an adult, last October. He had never been around chickens and was very curious - even chased them because, hey, they ran, right? But I called him back, told him no, and since then he acts like the labs - indifference toward them. Glad to have them around when the predators show up, though!
  4. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Songster

    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    I think it depends on your dog's natural inclinations. We once had a dog named Sundae (herding mix) who was the most gentle protector of anything he saw as part of our family, whether it be kids, kittens or pet hamster. We have another dog, Bella (mix of unknown origin...probably cattle dog/norwegian elkhund in there) with a very strong prey drive and a love of chasing squirels, chipmunks, birds, rabbits, deer even. Our third dog Aslan is an Anatolian Shepherd, who has good livestock guardian instincts, but since he is still a juvenile, needs some supervision because as a puppy he wanted to play with the chickens when they ran or were dirtbathing.

    With the first dog, it was only a manner of cuddling whatever it was we wanted it to accept, sitting next to the dog for example with a chicken in my lap and petting it and crooning over it would have been enough, I believe to have the Sundae see it as his flock and in need of his protection.

    With Bella, I needed to work a lot harder. I brought her out with me to the garage when the chicks were tiny and let her sniff at them over the side of the brooder and correcting her verbally (and physically if necessary with a yank of the leash) if she even looked at a chicken with that stiff legged, predatory gaze or made the little growling woof she makes when she sees a squirel. I continued this pretty much daily when they were in the brooder and started the process over again when they started free ranging. Sometimes sitting outside with her on or off leash with some treats (both for chickens and dogs) and rewarding Bella for letting the chickens come around her without messing with them.

    Aslan was been pretty easy, just needs to be taught that chickens are not toys. He is the one who goes on duty when I let the chickens out to free range. He barks a lot when he's outside with the chickens but that's his job. Who knows what he sees up in the Colorado mountains around our property that he thinks needs to be barked at. I don't correct his barking when he's on duty.
  5. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Songster

    Oct 31, 2008
    I suspect the ease of training the dogs to accept chickens will be directly proportional to their current training status. If they are well behaved dogs who listen well to you, adding chickens to the "leave it" list should be relatively easy. If they run wild now, never ever leave them unrestrained near chickens.
    A lot depends on the particular dog, and how it thinks-- or doesn't. I will never ever forget the look on our previous dog's face when I screamed at her for picking up a new chick that had wandered from its mama. She dropped it , and it did die I suspect from fright more than anything, But I am convinced our dog was just trying to put the lil thing back where it belonged with its mama. She never touched another chick, was chief flock protector, and spoke fluent chicken.
  6. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Songster

    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    Excellent point! So start general obedience classes now (if you haven't already) to help things out in the spring when the chickens arrive.
  7. Goldencluckacre

    Goldencluckacre In the Brooder

    Dec 30, 2012
    Thanks, all for your feedback! Both girls are CGC trained so they have basic obedience under their belts. I feel confident that my older Golden - Gracie - will take my lead so I loved the ideas from Hummingbird Hollow about introducing them when in the brooder for Hirt periods every day and will do this with her on lead to start .... Gracie is my running partner and she is collar/leash smart always knowing we are in training mode when her running leash is out. I guess my biggest concern is that I have no idea how strong their natural drive will be. My younger golden - Lillie will be just 2 when the chicks arrive and she is incredibly sweet and probably one of the most attentive dogs I have ever had so I am hopeful that the training we have done this far will help. Grace is very people oriented - she will choose people over a dog any day when presented a choice. She is funny with our pugs though because she actually tends to act more like a herder than a retriever - perhaps this will come in handy. Thanks again everyone!

  8. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    The "leave it" command is your friend! My dorky dog (Pitbull-Mastiff-?? mix) tries to chase chickens every spring. She forgets she's not supposed to, and they are SO MUCH FUN to chase! A few "Leave it" commands work very well, but I do have to watch her for flare-ups. She's not the brightest bulb in the box.

    Luckily my hens are behind a fence, so it's not much of a big deal.
  9. Peggy-Sue

    Peggy-Sue Chirping

    Aug 29, 2012
    She Thinks shes a chicken!

  10. Goldencluckacre

    Goldencluckacre In the Brooder

    Dec 30, 2012

    Too funny! How old is Sydney and how did the introduction between Sydney and the hens go? Were they chicks when you got them?

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