Jealous dog vs. chicks again

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by angi, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. angi

    angi Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 6, 2011
    northeast, IN
    So I've been working with my 3 yo lab as much as possible to get her used to the chicks. She is really jealous and I don't know how to break her of this. I don't trust her around them at all, but I let her see them when they're on my lap and last night I tried to put one on the floor with her. The whole time, she was trying to cuddle up on my lap and make me give her all the attention. Then, she was sniffing the chick and opened her mouth like she was going to grab it.

    I stopped her, but it makes me nervous. My chicks are moving in to the coup this week and as soon as it is warm, they will be in the yard.
    I want my dog to protect them. I'm afraid her jealousy will lead her to kill/eat them.

    Any training tips?
  2. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    If she has a high prey drive, you might have to keep them separated. You can try with the command 'mine!' If she understands what is 'yours' it will be easier, but time will tell. It's pretty hard to train out those decades of breeding that tell the dog to 'get the bird'...

    Also, you can train her not to eat until you give the command. That worked with one of my labs that thought I shot the doves so that she could eat them. Have the dog sit and put her food down. Tell her 'no' if she moves from sit and make her stay there until you say 'eat'. It didn't take long with mine but you have to be consistant and make everyone else in the family be the same. No treats or food of any kind until you say 'eat'. I hope this works out easily for you...
  3. FlowerFarmer

    FlowerFarmer Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 10, 2011
    The training you give your dog away from the chicks is the foundation of their coexistance. Your dog needs to know how to 'leave it' alone. If you can put food or a toy down in front of her and have her leave it... she's going against her insticts and listening to you... which is exactly what you want her to do around the chickens. Once you have this skill down (keep practicing), then try having the dog 'leave' the chicks alone. I have an 'ignore them' command I used before chickens with my dog when yappy dogs or mean cats were around, and this has been a handy tool. When they seem uncomfortable, give them a break. They figure out they can hang out around eachother without it being a big deal... and this works best when the dog (eventually) becomes less interested. My dog is half Labrador, and of course she wanted to sniff and sniff. But after she checks them out (breifly), she needs to 'leave them'. And after a bit they'll get the idea. I've even had my dog flush birds before while hunting. Your dog wants to please you above anything else. Of course every animal is different... but I've found teaching my toddler to behave around the chicks to be more of a challange [​IMG]
  4. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 4, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    When I was socialising my dogs to chicks for the first time, I didn't let them get anywhere near them until they were used to the cheeping noise and also perfectly calm. They were used to squeaky toys and I didn't want them making a horrible mistake and munching a chick out of excitement.

    Any time I handled a chick, I made them go to the end of the room and sit in their basket, and if they tried to move I checked them verbally and made them stay there. Once they had got past the quivery excitement stage, I let them come nearer and sit watching me, then finally sniff at the chicks. Any time either of them tried to be too nosy or too pushy, I gave them a firm 'NO' and if necessary, physically moved them away. If they didn't calm down, they got sent back to their basket straight away.

    After a while, the dogs just kinda lost interest in the chicks. They'll look at them every so often, but they're not interested in playing with them now. You have to make the chicks seem boring to them. If you're leaning over them oohing and aahing, the dogs pick up on your excitement and want to know exactly what's going on. If you just make your chick care routine very quiet and calm and predictable, the dogs will soon figure out they could have more fun chewing a bone somewhere else.

    I don't know much about teaching dogs specifically to protect the birds, that's well beyond my level of training. But just having them around and mingling with the chickens will keep cats away and make strange dogs think twice about approaching

    As for the jealousy thing, try to think of it a different way. You are the owner and your dog is just a dog. It has no business being jealous. It doesn't have the right to be jealous. You are the boss, the one in charge and you are the one who makes the decisions. These decisions are nothing to do with your dog. It's job is to be a good dog and do what it's told. Nothing else. If it acts jealous, simply don't let it. Don't reward undesirable behaviour with affection and don't let it go unchecked either. If you are calm but firm and very clear and consistent as to what behaviour is not acceptable, your dog should learn quite quickly.

    This assumes you have a dog who has a basic level of obedience and a basic level of respect for you as the boss. I'm not big on official training and obedience, but the one thing I do insist on is basic good manners. No pushing past, no jumping up to greet, no snatching food and no climbing on sofas, beds or over other people without a clear invitation first. With my dogs, I make sure I can put their dinner bowls on the floor in front of them, walk away without looking, and no-one starts eating till I give the word. Food control is a great way of teaching dogs who's the boss.

    If you don't have basic manners and respect for you instilled in your dog, training it to do anything else will be difficult.
  5. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    Quote:x2 on the teaching of the toddler...
  6. angi

    angi Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 6, 2011
    northeast, IN
    Quote:She keeps rodents off of our farm, but i taught her not to kill rabbits and she doesn't bother the neighbors chickens. It is definitely more of a jealousy issue. For example; in the summer, I spend a lot of time in my garden which she does not frequent because I don't like her stomping on my young vegetables. So if I don't come out to the farm to see her for a few days or go away for the weekend, she will pick my biggest, most ripe and beautiful tomato, just to puncture it, and drop it off on the porch.

    She doesn't eat her food as soon as we feed her, usually she waits until it is convenient for her. I make her sit, shake, lay, and be still before I hand over treats.

    I appreciate the advice!
  7. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Just a question: When you say the chicks will be out in the yard when they are older, are you meaning free range, with the dog around, when you are not home?

    I just ask because you mentioned what your dog does to your vegetables when you aren't there for a few days. If she will have unrestricted access to your chickens I'm more then a little afraid of what you are going to come home to one day.

    I just do not trust even well trained dogs to spend large amounts of unsupervised time with chickens. It's just a lot to expect of any dog. A few moments of boredom or a little separation anxiety are all it takes to come home to no chickens.

    As far as protection, I don't know how much instinct a lab will have to protect chickens. It's just not what they are bred for. Some dogs will just naturally do it anyway but I wouldn't count on it.

    I guess I'm being a downer but I've pretty much come to the conclusion that everything wants to eat my chickens, including my own dogs, so I just don't allow co-mingling. They have their coop/run/access to a dog proof pasture and nobody gets chewed up.
  8. latebloomer

    latebloomer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 10, 2011
    green mountain state
    i'm working on this with my rescue dog Lilly and was very nervous at first
    even thinking i may need to find homes for the chick thinking Lilly wasn't ready
    to share affections

    but with patience and continued supervised "meetings" she's really starting to do well

    i hope your situation turns for the better
  9. suzeqf

    suzeqf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2011
    i have 5 dogs and a very good mouser and at the moment i've got my chicks in a large pooch proof box and i let them come in the shop(which is feline proof) and smell and listen and i've held them up so they can see in the box and i let them smell me after i've been with the chicks and they've all gotten to smell a chick and the only one i've had that has even tempted to snap has been my rescue chi but "the kids" know that the chicks are "moma's" so they know they are off limits and i've sure we are going to have to have a refresher course of leave it when we move the girls outside but my kids are treat driven and would have rather have yummy treats and belly rubs for being good than being fussed at and put in their kennels for running the fence and trying to chase "moma's" chickens
  10. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    Got it; jealousy... My collie will stand between me and the chicks but when she lays down, she'll let them nestle in her fur...


    You might try sitting on a blanket or towel in the yard with her and the chicks. Be sure to let her be in your lap or as close as she wants and praise her when the chicks interact with her or you both. Do what ever you need to do to make sure that she knows to be sweet and easy with the chicks, and that she still comes first in your heart...

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