Jealous dog?


Dec 9, 2020
Hi! I wasn't sure where to open this thread, but since it's more about the dog than about the chicks...

So, I have a dog and I haven't had any other pets since I've adopted him in 2015. He's used to be the only "child", and showed signs of jealousy when I gave shelter to a horse a few months ago (he did things to get our attention, and even tried to eat the horse's dung... he was never coprophagous in the past). Anyway, I was chill because the horse was way bigger than him and knew how to defend himself in case he tried to bite him or something. One big stomp on the floor and the dog ran away).

But now, I've received 2 baby chicks as an advance Christmas present, and I'm not really sure about how to act with the dog... He's really curious about the chicks, but I don't let him get too close to them because he's the kind of dog who's always trying to catch small animals with his mouth, and I saw that same intention in his face when I introduced him to the chicks.

Currently, I have the babies in a room and sometimes I let the dog in (with my supervision). He looks at them and lifts up his ears, but whenever he gets too close to them, I tell him "noooo" in that tone he recognizes and he backs off... That's fine for now. My babies are slowly growing, and luckily I have a huge cage to keep them protected when I take them to the yard to enjoy the sun and the grass. But I don't want to keep them caged all the time, especially when they're adults.

Any personal advice on how to proceed with the dog? Any experience that you feel that could be useful for me?

Thanks :)
Keep correcting him whenever he acknowledges they exist. Get very stern if he doesn’t immediately respond.
Goal here is to let him know absolutely that him even thinking about those things makes you displeased.
Also acknowledge the fact he didn’t pay attention to them. If he comes and goes without alerting to them, go play his favorite activity for 5-10 minutes.
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With my dog we started with my older hens. Those girls were very bossy and would chase her off if she got to aggressive. She got pecked in the face a few times for being pushy and quickly lost interest in their activities.
This past spring we got 6 chicks to add to the flock. This newest round of chicks are now 6 months old and they are definitely her babies. It is actually becoming a bit of a problem because if the older hen boss' the babies around she will try to intervene and chase off the older hen.
All of her interactions with the chickens is still highly supervised. If she gets too excited or pushy she is called off and leashed.
Our dog loves to hunt rats, that was her first real joy in life after we adopted her. The old chicken coop was her favorite place to hang out and hunt. The old hens were not fond of her but less fond of the rats and so they mostly tolerated her presence.

When we got a new kitten my DH was concerned that she was the same size as a rat and the dog may make a mistake. What we found out is that our dog is acutely aware of when another animal is important to me. She can tell when I get protective of another critter and moderates her behavior. I assume that this is due to her being an English Shepherd.

Even with her being so good I still introduced the chicks to her the same way I introduced the kitten. First with a sturdy solid barrier between them and me reinforcing the behavior that I wanted. Second the same highly supervised introduction with out the barrier and lots of positive reinforcement for the good behavior. We kept at this multiple times a day. When we took them out for daily excursions we again started with the dog outside the barrier. Once she proved that she could remain calm and hold a down stay we let her inside the barrier on a leash. Each step we took was slow and methodical until she proved to me that I could trust her. If it was too much we would take a step back and start over.
I think the most important piece is that I want her to be successful, nothing is rushed.
Good Luck!!
What breed or type of dog is he? The way you train him might need to be different, depending on if he's a super intelligent herding type, a retriever type, or one with a high prey drive towards small animals, like a terrier.
What breed or type of dog is he? The way you train him might need to be different, depending on if he's a super intelligent herding type, a retriever type, or one with a high prey drive towards small animals, like a terrier.

He doesn't have a specific breed. I've been told he looks like a Great Pirinees, but smaller.

He does have high prey drive towards small animals, that's my main concern. I think he's learned that my chicks are not the kind of small animals he's allowed to hunt, but he still stares at them very curiously and he's tried to grab them with his mouth a few times, more playfully than aggressively, but it's still dangerous...

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