Introducing the family dog to the chickens

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ni22, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. ni22

    ni22 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 20, 2013
    Hello! We are awaiting the arrival of our new additions, 3 buff orpington chicks and for those of your who have successfully introduced the family dog to your chickens how have you done it and at what age (age of the chickens)?

    A little more info;
    Our dog is a 6 year old female yellow lab, she is not a trained bird dog which I am thankful for now that we are adding the chickens to our family. As far as I know she has never attacked an/or caught/retrieved a bird. BUT we have a huge problem with ferral cats so she is a "cat" dog- her main goal in life is to keep cats off our property, she literally spends hours laying in the yard watching for cats or wandering the property in search of renegade cats. She does not chase the family cat and she excellent with children and other dogs including small ones that resemble cats. My hope is that eventually when the chickens are full grown that we could let the chickens have some supervised free range time and that with the dog roaming the property the ferral cats and other predators would be less likely to attack the chickens. I don't worry about our own cat attacking the chickens because he is too lazy to hunt for food.

    Anyhow.... any tips that have worked for others would be fantastic!! Thanks in advance!
  2. carolwfuller

    carolwfuller Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 17, 2012
    I hope you get some replies.

    I will have a new puppy in April and my chickens will come in mid-May. I only have the chickens until mid-September.

    I had two family bernese mountain dogs last summer and one had to be put down at 10 1/2 because she went predator. The other died recently at 13. I want to be sure to do the right thing with the puppy so we can all live together happily.

    Any ideas?
  3. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    You will need to go slowly with an adult dog. Same with a puppy. No unsupervised interaction. Correct any stalking, playing behavior immediately. I think it best to teach them not to run, jump, play etc around the birds. Let them smell, hear, see the chicks. An adult dog is giong to need to be very obedient or seperated from them until the dog is 100% trustworthy. This will take time.

    Right now, I have a 5 month old Grt Pyr who we've had since 8 wks. He goes with me to do bird chores. He doesn't run or play when we are in the birds area. He is made to remain calm, walking slowly. He looks at the birds but he is not intent on watching them (potential predatory behavior). At first, he was always on a leash when we would did bird chores. He will not be allowed to be with them unsupervised until 18-24 months.
  4. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    I have posted this on other threads, so sorry if this is repeat but I really believe that any breed of dog can be trained to be around your animals safely if you work on training them well in overall impulse control. Here is the method I use to train my dogs:

    The most important thing to focus on overall is improving your dogs impulse control. No matter what your dog has a natural prey drive but more than that they are pack animals that want to please their master. Good basic training makes teaching them anything else so much easier. Make sure that you can snap your dogs attention back to you even when they see something they want. (I can't snap so I use an "aht." noise - this means sit and pay attention to me)

    One of the best ways to work on this without a live animal present is during feeding. Do you free feed your dogs or do they eat at regular times? I would recommend taking them off of free feeding if you are doing that. Focus on training your dogs so they they will not eat anything unless you give a specific command. I set down all four bowls of food and make the dogs wait. They do not eat until they hear their own name and see a hand gesture. Also work on them stopping eating at a command and willing stepping away from their food. I say "Name, wait." and they stop and sit until told to continue. These skills help with impulse control in many areas of training. It may seem unrelated but to a dog, the one who controls the food is the ruler of them all.

    It is also a good idea to work on the “leave it” command with toys, food and other things.

    I would introduce the dog to the chickens on a leash and just sit and be calm. (One dog at a time if you have more than one) As soon as she starts to fixate on the chickens in any way other than simple curiosity or barks or is excited (even happy excited) I would scold her with the same word every time (you only need to say it once, firmly) and immediately take her inside. It is important to take her in even with happy excitement. You are training her to ignore the chickens not to like the chickens and there is a big difference.

    With my dogs I brought them back when they were calm and started all over again. and again and again. lol. I allowed them to glance at them or sniff them but anything else was a no. It took a bit of patience but all of the dogs ignore the chickens and now find very little interest in them at all other than a sniff here or there. I never yelled or hit them or used a choke or a shock. I just said no and took them away immediately at any sign of fixation or barking. You will need to do this everyday until they get it. Patience is the key and consistency. It sucks because sometimes you are busy and don't want to deal with it but starting and stopping will just make it worse. I leave them all together unsupervised regularly.

    If you get any new birds or a new birds area like a brooder or injured bird box make sure to introduce the dog again.

    Here is my pit, Lou, with a silkie chick who fell in love with her.

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
    3 people like this.
  5. ni22

    ni22 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 20, 2013
    Great advice! Thanks! LOVE the picture!!
  6. carolwfuller

    carolwfuller Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 17, 2012
    Will you come and help me train my puppy?
    No seriously-that was great advice. I will print it off for reference
    Thanks very much and any more thoughts are appreciated
  7. nzpouter

    nzpouter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2009
    new zealand
    another common mistake that people made.... never ever hold your chicken and put it in front of your dog...
  8. cntrywmnkw

    cntrywmnkw Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 30, 2012
    Utopia SC
    nzpouter absolutely LOVE your signature!!![​IMG]
  9. Brookysmom

    Brookysmom New Egg

    Feb 11, 2013
    I also love the picture. I could not agree more. i will add that the drop it and leave it training is two of the best commands ever taught to any dog. i would have her on a hip leash for a short period to follow me around to do chores and then to jut sit around the farm and watch things any interest shown Leave it command if she picks up anything tell her to drop it and work on this often You can work with food o favorite toys.
    I am sure all will go fine just have patiance
  10. anubisnut

    anubisnut Out Of The Brooder

    OOOOOooo that's adorable!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by