My Dog broke into Henhouse to sleep with the Chicks... need advice!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by LeftAtAlbuquerque, May 27, 2010.

  1. LeftAtAlbuquerque

    LeftAtAlbuquerque In the Brooder

    Our six chicks are 7-8 weeks old and are still in a temporary tractor at night while we're finishing up their permanent house. Until last week they were in our kitchen in their brooder. We have two dogs, and I'm not too worried about the smaller, older one, but Sophie (she was a rescue dog, and I think she's probably a Golden Retriever / Lab cross) is EXTREMELY interested in the chicks. We've been very very careful, and as they are still small, flightly balls of furry joy, I wanted to wait until they're a bit larger before I introduced them - under close supervision. During the day the dogs free range in the yard, the chickens are in the tractor. Gradually, they're all getting used to each other. In the evening, the dogs are in the house and the chicks free range while my husband and I have a glass of wine on the patio and laugh at the chick's antics. Well, tonight as it was getting dark, I heard noises out there - DH said, "Oh, that's just roosting noise", but his hearing isn't as good as mine (ha ha) so I went out to check. I heard peeping and right away saw Buffy and Blondie OUTSIDE the chicken tractor. How the heck did she get out? I ran into the kitchen to get a flashlight, we pulled back the blanket that we cover them with at night, and saw that the poultry wire had been pulled off the frame of the tractor, and that my dog Sophie was INSIDE LYING DOWN WITH THE OTHER FOUR CHICKENS!!!!!! We figure she must have been in there for 10-15 minutes. She maneuvered herself into there (It's not that much bigger than she is (!) When she saw us, she started wagging her tail which actually pushed a couple of the chicks up and over her, so it was a big tumble of fur and feathers and chickens running over the dog. We started counting heads and toes - the four chicks that were in the coop with the dog, and the two that had managed to break out. I still cannot believe that there are NO injuries, nobody seems the worse for wear. We were in the kitchen the whole time - right near the patio - and never heard a peep except for the happy roosting noises.

    I don't know what to think now.......... maybe she thinks they're her 'babies? When we rescued her a few years ago she had 7 one day old puppies that we spent a summer raising and finding homes for, and she was an excellent mother. I just can't believe that she broke in there to SLEEP with them, and didn't EAT them!!!! Maybe all the time they've spent together (although with the cage between) has fostered the idea that these are her babies and she needs to guard them? I just don't know.......... and I don't know how much I should trust her, but I never expected anything like this.

    I had such great plans that everyone would just get along and free range together all day in my yard. I'm willing to put in a lot more training with Sophie. Now I'm just stumped, I've never seen anything like this and don't know what to think. Do you think she's trustworthy? All suggestions and ideas welcomed! How did you introduce your dogs to the chicks?


    Please Give me any tips of introducing dogs and chichkens
  2. LeftAtAlbuquerque

    LeftAtAlbuquerque In the Brooder

    Forgot to upload the piture!

  3. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    My chickens walk on top of my resting Golden Retriever.

    Your results may vary.

    That kind of dog is programmed to kill birds.

    Be careful.
  4. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    If nothing else, this demonstrates that it's easy to break into that tractor! I guess what they say about chicken wire is true, eh?
  5. ScoobyRoo

    ScoobyRoo Songster

    Aug 21, 2008
    Land of OZ
    [​IMG] Sue. I have no suggestions on 'introducing' chicks and dogs. From my experience, ALWAYS keep them under close supervision. I'm at the point now where I'm a 'little' relaxed with our dog around our flock. I think our reason for her to leave them alone is our geese, Tom turkey and a couple of roosters. They have nipped at her a time or two and now she wont bother them. She ignores them now. She is still under a watchful eye though.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 27, 2010
  6. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Songster

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    Replace the chicken wire with 1/2 inch gauge wire!
  7. Monk

    Monk Songster

    May 10, 2009
    Quote:Most retrievers are trained to not to kill the birds, or rather this trait is enhanced/controlled to retrieve a bird to hand with undo damage. They are in gereral not killers but retrievers. In the spring My Lab was retrieving every young bird she could find to me, unharmed. We had to supervisor her a little closer to avoid this. I had to defend retrievers, "That kind of dog is programmed to kill birds." , generally not true. Still your it's true you have to be careful. Here's my old girl... R.I.P., Pearly Girl
  8. Technically, goldens and labs are not trained to kill birds, but to retrieve them. They have a "soft mouth", which is actually stronger than many of the guard breeds like shephards, etc, but can and do gently carry things in their mouths. They should be able to retrieve a shot duck, etc without puncturing the skin in any way, keeping the meat fresh for the hunter to consume. Our previous golden brought baby mice to us in her and sound [​IMG]

    Our current golden is a bit of a doufus! [​IMG] Even at 5, she's a bit of a ditz - my daughter says is because she is a natural blond!! She dearly wants to get close to the 3 day old chicks we have now, but of course, we keep her away from them unless CLOSELY supervised. I really don't think she would ever intentionally hurt them, but one step of that huge paw would be the end of the sweet chicks. Our year old flock though, she gets along fine with. Last year when the pullets were free ranging, we took Rory out on her leash. If she got too close, we would pull her back and correct her with "Leave it!". After a few days of this, we went to having her out off the leash with us present, and again would say "Leave it!" if she got to close or appeared to want to "play" with the girls. A year later, we let them outside together. Its actually funny. Once it starts getting dusk out, the birds will naturally head back to the coop. If Rory is outside, they'll hang out for a few last bites of grass outside the coop. As soon as she goes into the house, the birds head for the coop. I think they think she'll be their protector as long as she is outside!

    Each dog is different though. Some may seem to be fine with the birds, and one day will just turn on them. Train your dog as well as possible, and watch their interraction carefully.
  9. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Quote:That was the first thought to pop into my head

    Well, there have been several threads about whether folks trusted their dogs around their chickens, with mixed results. Some people (myself included) have great trust in their dogs around their chickens, unsupervised, some supervised only, and others who say "no way would I trust my dog(s) around my chickens." Some breeds seem better suited to trusting, but a lot comes down to termperament/personality of the dog and training.

    Goldens and labs are known to be people pleasers, and I've found them to be very nurturing (w/newborn kittens at least, in my case). Even the ones from good lines bred for retrieving are trained to be gentle with the birds when doing so. My young female is somewhat rude in welcoming people, overeager and will jump up on them (licking and whining) if I'm not firm with her. But instinctually it seems to me, when it's an elderly person or small child that she encounters, she doesn't do that. She'll go in low and whine to get a pat on the head.

    You've already started your training by exposing your dogs and your chicks to one another through the tractor (and evidently IN the tractor Sit outside with your birds ranging, with one dog at a time on leash (hand on collar) sitting beside you. Require the dog to lay or sit. Use whatever command you use for easy/gentle. After a few days, work your way up to on leash, hand not on collar...gradually increasing the dogs' freedom of movement. From there go to walking around with your dog(s) on leash among the ranging birds, then to walking around with the dog off leash (all of the course of a few weeks). Watch closely your dogs reactions at each stage. My older male dog proved MUCH more trustworthy MUCH earlier on than my younger female. Only you will know through your observations, whether your dog will be able to be trusted around your chickens or not eventually. I hope it works out for you. It's sounds like your rescue dog will be easy to train... [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  10. bigdaddyabc

    bigdaddyabc Songster

    May 5, 2010
    Our dalmation is VERY protective and motherly toward our chicks / flock. The problem with that is that dogs discipline their "children" with a nip, and a nip from a dog can kill a chick very easily. So we allow her in the run or coop ONLY with us. She lays right next to the run and barks at our other dogs if they come over near them. We believe it is far more motherly than "get away from my food". In fact, we had a coon dig under the coop a while back, but not all the way, as she caught him in the act......bad evening for the coon. Anyway, a chick got out of the hole and died overnight in the cold and storm that kicked up....bad timing little chick. The next morning when we let the dogs out, she did her rounds and found it and brought it to us fully feathered and undamaged for the most part (except for the dead thing). Sooooo, I am hopeful our dog is protective too, but I guess Iam saying what others have said, be careful, they MIGHT kill a chick if only accidentally.

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