Maggie and the Girls.....how do I introduce a pup?

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by DDRanch, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. DDRanch

    DDRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2008
    California
    Meet Maggie:

    [​IMG]

    and now the girls:

    [​IMG]

    For years, I have envied those of you who have dogs who will not harm your chickens. This past year has been very difficult with the loss of our 2 beloved lifelong canine companions. A few days ago, I found Maggie who has established herself in our home and our hearts very quickly.

    I want to be able to have her with me when I am cleaning coops, feeding, watching chicken tv, you know, regular chicken activities. How could I start to train her? Or can I? I realize that she would probably always have to be supervised with them, but I would like to try. She is part golden retriever, lab and hound about 10 weeks old. I await your advice.

    Anne
     
  2. NeeleysAVLChicks

    NeeleysAVLChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    959
    4
    131
    Aug 4, 2009
    Leicester, NC
    Cute, cute pup!

    We're going through this right now! We lost our good old farm dog, Hannah, in the spring. Hannah was one of those dogs that just "came good", even at 8 years old, having never been around chickens before, she took to them instantly, knowing they were part of the family. I never had to train her really, she just seemed to know that while other critters around the farm should be chased off, chickens were off limits. I trusted her completely around them from the first day we got the chicks, four years of chicken-guarding, she never let me down.

    Well, had to put Hannah down this spring due to old age. Lots of tears and grieving, we're finally ready to get a new pup. We picked Hank up two weekends ago, a golden retriever/lab/something else mix, 12 weeks old. So sweet!

    Meet Hank:
    [​IMG]

    Well, since we never really had to train Hannah, we're totally flying by the seat of our pants with this new guy getting him used to being around the chickens. I know one thing is very important, the earlier the introductions the better.

    Here's what we've been doing and so far, so good!

    From the very first day I've been spending at least 30 minutes a day just sitting with Hank and the girls. The first few days, I kept him on my lap letting him watch the girls, but from a safe distance.

    The next few days, I put him on a leash in the run and tied it to my belt so I could do the chores and also keep a close eye on him. I scolded him at any sign of aggression (ie barking, lunging towards the chickens, excessive interest), though I want him to feel ownership over the chickens as well, so just looking at them isn't reason to scold.

    The last week I've let him wander around the run with me, I don't let him even start to chase the chickens and so far he really is just more interested in chicken poop then the actual chickens. We've also had him free in the yard while the chickens free range, so far, so good! I keep a very close eye on his body movements, watching very closely for excessive interest or the beginning signs of aggression, but I think introducing them so early has helped a lot. I also think just spending time with all of them together helps the puppy acclimate to normal chicken behavior that might excite a dog (ie squacking, flying, normal chicken stuff).

    I hope this helps! Each dog's temperament and personality are different, so I think you just have be firm and consistent. Hank seems to be a very laid back little fella, so just spending a lot of time with the chickens seems to be working for us.

    I would love to hear your ideas and how introductions go for you guys!!
     
  3. yomama

    yomama Overrun With Chickens

    This may sound like boring stuff, but I would highly recommend obedience course, once old enough. It is alot easier to train a dog in other areas, once you have your basics down, IMO. Also, don't set your pup up for failure. Don't put her in a position where you can't redirect an action. Such as, you have her on a long lead, she starts to chase a chicken. You give the lead a quick jerk and say "leave it" (one of my favorite commands [​IMG] ) She comes running back to you , hopefully, and you reward her. She is now learning that "leaving the chicken alone gives me a reward from mom!" Now, imagine if you didn't have her on that lead. Being a puppy, she has no idea what "leave it" means, but she sure likes the way that chicken runs around! It is much easier to teach your dog to leave the chickens alone before,rather than after the fact, when she realizes how fun they are to chase. I think most any dog can be around chickens, if trained right and SUPERVISED. Leaving a dog,especially a puppy, with chickens, without being supervised is almost a garauntee that something bad might happen. Even if she was only "playing". There are those dogs that are few and far between, like AVLchicks', that just come good. However, you have a dog that has two different bird retriever breeds in her. She will be interested. She also has two breeds in her that want to please people. She will need your consistancy and your patience. I'm sure with all the right work, she will not disapoint you. I agree that the more you acclimate her to all the noise and actions that chickens make, it won't seem that exciting to her. She is a pup though, it will take a long time. If it helps, I have 4 dogs, all different sizes and breeds, that would almost kill my neighbors chickens when they snuck into our yard. Now, since they have been trained to leave ours alone, they won't even scare my neighbors chickens back home. [​IMG] Good luck with little Maggie. She is an absolute doll!

    ETA: Hanks pretty stinkin' cute too! Maybe some Border Collie in there too?
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010

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