Is introducing my dog to my chickens ever a good idea?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by MollyBlane1, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. MollyBlane1

    MollyBlane1 Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 7, 2012
    I have a 19-lb cocker spaniel, Lulu, who is feistier than any creature I have ever met. When she gets around my parents' 90-lb boxer, she scares him to death. She sits by her back windows all day to make sure no birds come in the yard. If they do and I am home, I have to let her out to chase them out of the yard...

    On that note, do I ever introduce her to my 10 chickens?

    The chickens are about 6-weeks-old, and I just moved them to their coop in our backyard. Lulu cannot reach them, but she cannot just go play in her yard anymore (all she can focus on is the fact that there are 10 chickens in her backyard). I am wondering if anyone knows if she will ever just get used to them. I would love it if I could introduce them (when the chicks are grown) to one another in a controlled environment, and let the chickens "put her in her place." I have heard that once chickens are full-grown, they are pretty feisty themselves.

    Does anyone have experience with this kind of situation? And if so, can you please help me??
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    How good of a dog trainer are you?
    Even livestock guard breeds need to be trained for poultry.
    When a chicken runs, something clicks in a dog's brain and they have to chase, catch and shake.
    Some breeds are better than others, some individuals are OK but you never know.
    Dogs have been my worst predator. Way worse than coons, possums, foxes and hawks.
  3. MollyBlane1

    MollyBlane1 Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 7, 2012
    Thank you.

    I will plan, for now at least, to not introduce them. My Lulu can watch through the fence and bark, but I will not let them officially meet. It may come down to hiring a dog trainer, but I will not let her hurt my chicks!
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    On a more important note. Cocker Spaniels were originally bred to hunt Woodcock. Specifically to flush and retrieve birds.
    That spells trouble to me.
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j True BYC Addict

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Even hunting breed dogs can be trained to leave chickens alone, but in my experience, it helps to start that training when the dog is a pup. It does depend entirely on the dog, its personality, and how obedient the dog is at this point. If she won't stop and come back to you without hesitation when she's in the middle of chasing songbirds from your yard or barking at your chickens, I think you will have trouble. No way would I recommend trying to let the chickens "put the dog in her place." If that dog decided to grab a chicken, the chicken wouldn't stand a chance. It's not like they would all gang up on her and show her who's boss. A more likely scenario would be chickens flapping and flying and trying to get away from the dog and the dog having a field day with flapping, squawking squeaky toys everywhere she looks. I'm afraid it would not go well for the chickens, and ultimately the dog as she would more than likely spend every chance she gets trying to play that game again. Sometimes that method can work for a cat or a pup that's too small and timid to defend itself. I think keeping them separated for now is a good idea.
  6. Ibicella

    Ibicella Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2009
    Everett, WA
    I would do a lot of training and make it very controlled. It depends on the dog. My dog Didy (a papillon mix of some sort) is about as well-behaved and well-trained and mellow as you can get. He's a certified therapy dog, and is extremely gentle and well behaved when he's in hospitals and things for sick and fragile patients. He is even very gentle and very protective of tiny kittens. He's just the World's Best Dog.

    Except when it comes to small animals. Squirrels, birds, and whatnot. Suddenly, there is no Didy, only SQUIRREL. He will take off after them and there is no getting him back. He actually CAUGHT a squirrel once, and I only JUST got there in time to rescue it before he killed it.

    I've worked with him a lot, and he at least ignores my rat cage now, but that part of his brain that snaps into Wolf-Mode makes him totally untrustworthy around small animals. He has never meet my pet rats outside of their cage, and he will never meet my chickens when I finally get them.

    So, try your own experiments, train, and then make your own judgement. In the meantime, make sure your coop is extremely secure and keep your eye on your dog's whereabouts.
  7. Nosaj

    Nosaj Out Of The Brooder

    May 22, 2011
    It really depends on your ability to train the dog. I have a yellow lab that I use to hunt pheasants and I trained him to treat the chickens as members of the family just like the cats. I started training him the day the chicks came home and were in the brooder (converted dog crate). It can be done however it takes time. I would not wait to start exposing the dog to the chickens and enforcing the desired behavior of not eating or chasing the chickens. We did have one incident where he grabbed a mouth full of tail feathers, however in the end she was OK less a little dignity. I have complete trust in him now and did so after about 6 months. Our smartest chicken (RI white) follows him around because she knows he has a better nose and can find the treats faster. At first all my lab wanted to do was eat the birds now he protects them from other dogs and foxes.

    You are introducing her to them if she can see/smell the through the fence. You can safely start her training by getting her to calm down around the fence then over time increase the level of exposure. Your best bet would be getting a trainer to teach you how to train the dog.

    Good luck.

    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
  8. tdgill

    tdgill Overrun With Chickens

    In the meantime I think you could "work" on it. Just be safe. Take the dog on a leash and let her wear a pet friendly muzzle and monitor her behavior closely. Let her get close and smell them. Make it a relaxing experience, keep your own nerves and such under wraps :) No need to be nervous if care is taken right? Picture the positive outcome. But be patient and take your time.

    My dog was extremely interested and curious but apparently just needed to smell them and quell his curiosity. When he got that "over interested, let's PLAY" look, I would tell him NO and put my hand between him and the chick and sometimes give him a two fingered poke in the side to break his concentration.

    He learned easily that they were not his playthings and is now a very helpful protector. He will chase birds out of the yard, and birds that are flying overhead get barked at and chased. I am sure the breed has alot to do with it, but I think its a good idea to be prepared and do what you can to try and train her just the same. :)
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
  9. mama2my4

    mama2my4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2012
    Julian, PA
    yep. I have a cocker, too. He has actually caught birds in flight..... and brought them to me! YUCK!
  10. thehenconnectio

    thehenconnectio New Egg

    Feb 25, 2012
    Depends on how much you want to have chickens. Sounds like she is already a bird dog!! I

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