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Introducing "hunting" dog to chickens? Need help!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by skatcatla, Aug 6, 2007.

  1. skatcatla

    skatcatla Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here's my story. Right now my four girls are about 2 weeks old and so still in their dog-crate brooder in the house.

    I have 9-year old German Shorthaired Pointer, who despite supposedly being a "bird-dog", has shown zero interest in birds so far. We also have a cat that she will occasionally chase around the house, but that's it. She generally leaves the cat alone. We've never hunted with her and she seems to have not much instinct. I didn't think chicks would be a problem at all.

    The first 5 days or so I had the chicks, she didn't even notice they were there (Despite this GIANT kennel in the middle of the living room...but then again, she's not the brightest bulb :) )

    Suddenly on day 6, she finally noticed them and became EXTREMELY interested in them. She kept pointing at them and then barking (like she would to get our help in reaching, say, a ball she couldn't reach on her own). Over the past several days her anxiety seemed to be worsening. To keep her from scaring the chicks, we put up a gate, and finally last night, we moved the whole brooder in to the den. I figured if it was "out of sight, it would be out of mind." I was wrong; it only increased her anxiety. She kept running back and forth barking.

    So finally I decided to take the opposite tact, put her on a leash and then let her have access to the chicks. She seems to be most intensely interested in them when they were in the brooder huddled together in a group. If I lifted a single chick up to her to sniff, she ignored it. I decided to let them out on the floor to see what she would do, and she wasn't nearly as interested in them when they were spread out as when grouped together. She kept trying to "paw" one (obviously we didn't let her, I didn't want a chick to get hurt) but made no effort to bite them. I'm concerned with how tense and focussed on them she got, although after about 45 minutes, she did start to calm down a bit. I didn't want to stress the chicks out, so after 45 minutes we put them all back and made the dog leave the room. She was pretty exhausted.


    So, did any of you have this issue and did your dog eventually get used to them? I'm hoping that once they get bigger, she'll also be more afraid of them (or hopefully used to them!). This morning as soon as we got up, she ran straight to the den and whined to get in, so I let her go up to the kennel and spend as much time as she wanted sniffing at them (with the kennel closed of course) and she was pretty quiet and calm.

    Any advice for me? Do you think continued exposure will make her blase?
     
  2. wren

    wren Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay. Here's what the Dog Whisperer does. The dog must submit. Make him lay down on his side, if he tries to get up, use your finger tips on his neck to correct him saying no and make him remain down on his side. Slowly introduce the chicks around him. Only have one out at a time. IMO I wouldn't do more then a 10 min session. One person is in charge of the chick and another to control the dog. He must remain submissive. You are telling him what to do around your chicks. I did this with a dog that wanted to eat my cat. My dog thought I was crazy. She wanted to chase the cat 90 miles an hour in the house and kill it. In the end the dog just wanted to be away from the cat and ignored it totally. I think that is how your dog was coping with birds in her house until recently when she started to bark. By barking and pointing at them, she has become more dominate. She can't be allowed to do that or she will escalate her behavior until she kills your chicks. Those are your chicks, not food. Blase is the best you can hope for.
     
  3. skatcatla

    skatcatla Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks Wren. I already had started doing that a bit last night and the night before and she seems to be getting calmer. She was MUCH less tense with them last night then the night before. She just so wants to figure them out!
     
  4. Southern28Chick

    Southern28Chick Flew The Coop

    Apr 16, 2007
    There are so many people on this forum that have been heart broken over their dogs killing their chickens. I would not do it! Chickens just look like fun toys that run to a dog. I'm sure that on rare occasions dogs have been trained to be ok with chickens...I'm just never going to risk it.
     
  5. mothergoose

    mothergoose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Skat,
    I don't know that I will be any help for you, but we also have a german shorthair pointer. He is the best dog we have ever had. He is 7 yrs. old now. We got him when he was 14 weeks old. From the day we got him till present he has been around all our livestock. We have 300+ birds. From chickens, to waterfowl, quail, peafowl etc...He does'nt and has never chased, attacked, toyed with any of our birds or other livestock. But he is after sparrows and mice, like nobodies business. It is like he knows the domestic birds from the wild ones. I hope your dog learns to accept your birds. I would never have thought a bird hunting dog would be the best dog around our birds, but he is worth his weight in gold.
    Christie
     
  6. skatcatla

    skatcatla Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I'm not planning on allowing her to have access to them without supervision. I'm just trying to figure out how to get through the next 2 weeks until they are big enough to go outside to their coop. I can't have her barking and whining constantly for two weeks; we'll all go mad.
     
  7. skatcatla

    skatcatla Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:They ARE fantastic dogs, huh?

    I suspect once they are larger and she's more used to them, she'll relax quite a bit. Just working with her the past two nights has already made a big difference. I'm sure that eventually she'll just ignore them like she does the cat. :-D

    Thanks for your words of encouragement!
     
  8. RebelsHope

    RebelsHope Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, PLEASE don't do what the Dog Whisper does. What he does is not for the average dog owner and doing it wrong can lead to aggression problems. He is one of the most controversial "trainers" on tv right now. Makes good television, bad training example. So let just let him be entertianment on the National Geographic channel.

    A good dog fourm is called DogWise http://www.dogwise.com/forums/ get an account there. There are professonial trainers as well as people who just do a lot with dogs there. It is a really good place to start.

    What you want to teach your dog to do it called "leave it"
    although I could describe how to do it, I am lazy. . . here are some good articles on line to read
    http://www.clickersolutions.com/articles/2001b/leaveit.htm
    http://www.bulliebuddies.org/training/leave-it.pdf
    http://www.loveyourdog.com/touch.html

    Once you teach your dog to "leave it" you can use it for all kinds of stuff, like when you drop bacon or a pill on the the floor, when you find him chewing on a something gross in the yard, or any number of things.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2007
  9. ChickMomma

    ChickMomma Out Of The Brooder

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    We have a treeing walker coonhound that was just a puppy when we brought the chicks home (6 months old) by this time she new the commands sit, lay, shake, come, stay. We would tell her to sit and then lay and then use gentle pressure so that she could not get up until we let her. When the chicks were about a week old we had her lie down and put one chick on top of her. My DH was in charge of the dog and me the chick. We did this several times until she would just lay there with all of the chicks on her. (I have a picture somewhere I will try to post if I can find it) I can now let her into the chicken pen and she ignores the chickens and goes to what treats they have not finished or the poop spots! I only recommend this if your dog is already very well trained and will do what you say no matter what, but it can be done.
    I still would not leave her unsupervised with access to my chickens because no matter how well she is trained sometimes instinct still wins when we are not around to redirect her.
    Susanne
    PS- We also use the command drop it which does the same thing as leave it and it is wonderful for the shoes or trash in the yard!
     
  10. RebelsHope

    RebelsHope Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry to disagree but "drop it" is a different command. "Drop it" mean, the dog should drop whatever is in his mouth. "Leave it" mean that the dog looks away from whatever it is he is focusing his attention on, and insteads his attention on you. This is what you want your dog to do.

    Just to let you know I have trained hunting dog breeds (not to hunt but just in general obedience), dobermans, scent hounds, and others in various commands. Dogs are sort of "my thing" I currently am training two dachies for agility and a bichons to do tricks. One of my dachies has his Canine Good Citizenship from AKC and is a certified therapy dog from Therapy Dog International. My goal is for my bichon and other dachies to earn ther CGC and TDI also and for my dachies to start running agility trials this fall.
     

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