Need Advice from Owners of Chickens who Have dogs that eat them.

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Chicks Galore3, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut

    Dec 16, 2011
    For those chicken-chasing dog owners, i need some help! We got a new dog saturday (tucker,in my avatar), and before we got him we did a meet n' greet with my chickens, to make sure it didn't turn into a meet 'n eat. He got along fine with them and barely glanced there way. But yesterday he had his heart set on chasing them. what would he look like if he meant to eat them? His ears are up, and he is panting. would he look different. He has gotten along with goats,rabbits,guinea pigs, cats, and other dogs in his past. [​IMG]

    ETA- he IS on a chain because we need to establish some boundries before he is loose, do you think he just has access energy and needs something to chase?
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  2. dainerra

    dainerra Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2011
    one, lose the chain except as a last resort or you are right there interacting with him. Chaining dogs actually INCREASES their frustration and prey drive because that thing they want is right out of their reach. Ears up, panting, watching intently are all signs of excitement. He is curious about the birds and, let's face it, chickens seem to exist only to get dogs to chase them [​IMG]

    Don't give up hope on him. It's going to take a bit of work and, no, it's not 100% that you can leave them alone in the future. But, either way, the situation is pretty easily managed. :)

    Here is a cut and paste of my usual advice.

    raining. training. more training. Just like cleaning the coop and scooping poop and all the other jobs that come with having a pet. The only thing more necessary to a dog than training is food!

    You already know that he is excited with the chicks. Find the closest distance that the dog first notices the birds in the brooder. This might be in another room if he is one to constantly glance at the door. Put your dog on leash and get some extra special treats that he only gets for this work - bacon, grilled chicken (no spices!), hot dog chunks, etc. When the dog glances toward the birds, say his name and "leave it" If he looks at you, give him a treat - if he doesn't, give a light pop on the leash (think tap on the shoulder). When he looks at you reward him.
    You can also teach him "watch me" the same way. You can practice this at random times though out the day. If you have a couple extra minutes while you're watching TV or whatever, just say his name, pause, "watch me" When he makes eye contact, then reward him. You can also (if you get in the habit of keeping a small treat in your pockets) catch him looking towards you say "watch me" and then reward. Or just praise him verbally.

    Once the dog is reliably paying attention to you and the birds at a distance, move a little bit closer. If he absolutely blows you off, you're too close. Just back up a bit and begin again. Eventually you will be right amongst the birds. You can then start at a distance or with a long line (20' leash or so) and work from there. I never ever leave my dogs/chickens loose unattended together.
    I don't even trust Rayden [​IMG]
    I don't mean I constantly hover over the dogs when they are out with the birds, but I am in the area and aware of what they are doing. Think of it as a small child. Even though you've taught them not to play with matches, would you leave them alone in the house with matches scattered all over the floor?

    The most important part of the training is to set the dog up to succeed. Don't give him a chance to chase the birds. Don't give him a chance to disobey.

    ETA: The best thing about teaching "leave it" is that it works for everything. Drop something on the floor and don't want the dogs to touch it? "leave it" See dog running toward a snake? "leave it" Lots of training and work, but it pays off!
    Of course, some dogs just can't be trusted off-leash. Period. They are just too focused on the birds. In that case, just confine the dog when the birds are out.

    if your dog is in the last category, then you just have to manage. Dog is confined when the chickens are out. Chickens are confined when the dogs are out. Since it's best to have a 100% dog-proof run anyway, it's no extra expense. I would be willing to bet that roaming dogs are the #1 killer of chickens. At the very least, they're in the top 5!
    2 people like this.
  3. dainerra

    dainerra Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2011
    also, exercise!!! he looks like a spitz breed, maybe some husky in there? They are designed to travel for hours at a time while pulling heavy loads. Get him on an exercise schedule and stick to it. Start some obedience work too because tiring out the mind is even better than tiring out the body!

    if he IS a spitz breed, bear in mind that they are notoriously high in prey drive. If you give him appropriate outlets for all of that energy, he might become trustworthy WHILE UNDER SUPERVISION. But many of them are unreliable around any small animal that isn't a member of the family - such as the neighbor's cat. And they WILL kill them - rabbits, squirrels, cats, small dogs, birds......
  4. DianaMallory

    DianaMallory Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2012
    Lancaster Ohio
    And even simpler solution is pen your chickens up! I have my dogs pinned up and my chickens for their own protection! I have small dogs, Maltese and we have coyotes in the area. So I try to protect my animals as much as possible!
  5. seventreesfarm

    seventreesfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2012
    Everson, WA
    We rehome any dogs that can't be around loose chickens. We also get puppies (of working breeds, not ones with high prey drives) and train them from the get go to 'leave it' with chickens. Our corgi and 130# shepherd/rotti mix will get up and leave a bone or their food dish if a hen starts walking towards them. The big dog also is great at running the neighbor's free range rooster out if we leave the gate open and he comes calling on our ladies. We just tell the dog 'run him out' and he knows to escort him out the gate with no biting.

    Our birds are usually penned up, but escapes do happen, and we want to know any loose birds will be safe while we're not home. The rest of our place is perimeter fenced, so the dogs are always out keeping varmints and bad guys away. Sometimes we let the flock out in the houseyard, and the dogs just know better.

    We had an older mix dog that was a stray and killed a couple hens that got out. She also had some other problems with aggression, so we had her put down. It's hard, but we just can't afford to have any critter that is a liability here.
  6. CAjerseychick

    CAjerseychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2012
    Northern California!
    Whats your property set up like?
    For ex, we have a small fenced (rickety 3 ft high) backyard area within a larger 2 acre livestock fence... The chickens/coop/run are in the backyard and I leave their run door open during the day so they can range about the backyard.
    Dog could easily violate the fence in a heart beat-- BUT, I have trained her not to. So far so good. IF anyone of my 3 dogs test the fence I will put hot wire on it.
    So for me what worked (the dogs were here long before we ever got chickens so I feel they have "first dibs"-- we just moved out to the country over the summer and hadnt thought about chickens before then) was a solution that gave both dogs and chickens some measure of freedom, and of course they seem happier that way.
    Also dogs are great for warding off other predators- they are loose at night, chickens locked up tight in their coop.
    BTW my high energy high drive dog(her trainer was Schutzhund[FONT='Trebuchet MS', Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] [/FONT]and LOVED her) doesnt actually tolerate being a yard dog (even if it is two acres) and comes into the city with me 3 days week and takes 2 hours romps to our offleash spaces (we have a great beach/dune setup for dogs) -- she needs more stimulation then she gets otherwise up here. Our much more mellow dogs (Bernese Mt dog, ancient Boxer) are content to hang out and accompany us around our day here in this setting....
    Thats what we do in our situation with these kinds of dogs....
    And yes working off your dog's energy, and some good obedience training is always a good place to start...
  7. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut

    Dec 16, 2011
    He is a spitz breed, american eskimo. We've been having a routine of going and letting him of the tie out every hour and he is A LOT calmer. He is a good dog, just lots of energy. me and my sister are figuring out a training schedule. We have an underground fence, and after we teach him NOT to pass the flags, he will be free running. We purposely excluded the chickens favorite places from his area, so he can't go there withing out a buzz. He does NOT have a high pray drive, so that helps.
  8. dainerra

    dainerra Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2011
    Where did you get him? From a breeder or a rescue? Was he kept in a foster home or was he kenneled?

    The region I am asking is that dogs have a honeymoon period in a new home. It's often 2 or 3 months before they show their true personalities. That can sometimes include prey drive. Think of it as being on their best behavior until they realize"hey, this is home! "

    That's why the foster system can be such a help. The dog has time to settle in and show his true colors in a home setting. And don't count on Ann invisible fence to keep your chickens safe. Or the dog safe either.
  9. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 21, 2012
    North Texas
    Don't give up on the possibility of training him. (and, IMO, breed must be considered as well - although there are those that don't agree. I think that instinct is greater than any amount of intensive training, and one cannot assume that certain beeds will never do that for which they were bred.)

    We have a tiny Yorkshire Terrier that I won't permit anywhere near a chicken. He's a wonderful family pet - 9 years old. He's a hunter. I love my dog AND I love my chickens. They will not ever be in the yard, simultaneously.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  10. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    Since you just got the dog on Saturday, how set are you on keeping him? As mentioned above, this breed of dog will probably never be trustworthy around the chickens entirely, even with training.

    Like you, since we had chickens first, when we adopted our two dogs last year, our concern was that the dog(s) fit in with the flock. We worked with a rescue and had a trial period before we committed to the adoption, so that we could assess how suitable the dogs would fit in with ALL of our existing family.

    Dog 1 is Border Collie/Lab X. Her foster mom walked her into the backyard on leash, and she started sniffing around. Before long we rounded a corner and came across some chickens, who, upon seeing a strange dog (they were accustomed to our previous dog) scattered and ran/flew across the yard, squawking loudly. The dog looked up curiously with a "huh - what was that?" expression, then went back to sniffing the far more interesting smell on the ground. That is literally the most interest she has ever shown in them. A year and a half later, she sleeps in the chicken run at night to help deter predators (not an LGD but her presence (hopefully) will make any predator who wants to climb in at night think twice). When I took some 5-day old chicks outside for the first time, she came and lay down near them and in no time they were hopping all over her completely without fear, and I did not once have cause to be concerned about her interest in them.

    Dog 2 was a Munsterlander X. Very sweet dog who initially showed no interest in the flock, so we agreed to have him stay for the trial period. Turns out the lack of interest initially was the "honeymoon period" described above. On leash he showed no interest, so after a few days we let him off leash and the first time we weren't looking he took off after a chicken. Since we were still present we were able to avert disaster, but contacted the rescue to tell them we didn't think this dog was a good fit for us and back he went to seek a better home for him.

    Dog 3 is a mix of indeterminate breeding. Like dog 1, she showed no interest, was adopted, and almost a year later, she also sleeps in the chicken run at night.

    What makes it significant that they sleep in the chicken run is that I have an auto door with a solar sensor that opens the coop door at first light. The dogs are there with the chickens in the run anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours and I have yet to have a problem with this arrangement, regardless of poultry variety (chickens, ducks, guineas, turkeys) or age.

    If you are set on keeping this particular dog, you have been given some good training tips above but I would add that I would not ever trust THIS dog around your flock, so some kind of penning arrangement either for the dog or the chickens or an alternating system would be advisable. But if you have not yet bonded to this dog and are not set on this breed, it might be worth considering other options.

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