New Flock & New Guard Dog - clueless!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Mhofener, Jul 30, 2016.

  1. Mhofener

    Mhofener Hatching

    Jul 30, 2016
    Hi there! I am relatively new chicken keeper. We had 4 hens for about a year or so, but sure enough, 1 by 1 various somethings got each of them so we will be starting fresh with a better coop soon.

    I am also interested in investing a guard dog but am totally clueless and hoping you all can help! We live on 5 acres just on the outskirts of town but we do have coyotes, foxes, hawks, owls and the occasional stray dog... Our property is not fenced and we would prefer to keep in that way. Perhaps an underground fence could be an option but pretty costly I would think. Other factors are that we are in central Oklahoma, so we do get extremes of heat & cold. We have ducks & geese that visit regularly, a barn cat who rarely makes an appearance, and very old German shepherd mix (not sure how much longer she will be around...she doesnt mind the chickens, loves kids and animals but has separation anxiety and would not do well overnight alone - maybe if she had a companion? but she would mostly likely stress out trying to get inside to us lol). We also have 3 boys ages 4-8 would LOVE dogs.

    So I guess I am looking for suggestions - I have looked into the various breeds but curious on input from you all.

    Also, a few specific questions:
    1) Could this dog be a pet also? Could it ever come inside the home or is it best not to do so?

    2) Would it stay outdoors from its homecoming as a pup? solo? in a crate I assume? Or do you transition it outside once its a bit older?

    3) From what I read it sound like you would give the pup limited exposure to the chickens while supervised for quite some time and maybe crating at other times next to the coop. At what point would you let the dog go uncrated overnight?

    I think that is it for now!

    Thanks for any help you all can offer! :)
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    I can't give you advice on the LGD issue. My dog is proving to have a high prey drive. Now that she's older, and a bit more settled, I may try again by exposing her to a couple cockrels. An other issue is that she is more of a family pet, which I understand muddies the waters when training a dog to guard livestock. But, I can recommend The Stay and Play wireless electronic collar system. It works very well. My dog was trained to the system during her first exposure to the static correction the first day I let her off leash. IMO, this is the only way I can safely have a dog who feels duty bound to run and chase.
  3. carlf

    carlf Chirping

    Jul 2, 2016
    Mobile, AL
    IMO, On 5 acres, you need a fence of some sort to restrict the chickens. That could be as simple as a 36" chain link fence or a wooden picket fence (no smooth top rail, they will fly up onto it & then cross over, has to have pickets or prickly wires like chainlink)
    You can fence off an area about 50'x50' with some bushes and tree cover in it and that will be plenty of room for a small flock..
    Also I would have a 10x10 secure run (top netting and lockable door) attached the coop so you can secure them at night.

    Otherwise, even with a dog, they will roam all over those 5 acres and eventually get predated by one predator or another.

    That said: We have a chocolate Lab, she was 3 years old when we got peeps.
    We simply made sure she could see the chickens in their fenced run for about 2 months before we let the hens out in the backyard with her. She saw us feeding and watering them every day at the same time she got food and water for 2 months.
    The first 4 times we let the hens out into our fenced backyard, the dog was leashed and supervised.
    Then 3 times off leash supervised.
    By that time, she had grown used to them and saw them as part of the pack.
    We have never had an issue. They hang out with her, eat and drink out of her dish and even go in her house with her when it rains.
    Your results may vary, depending on the breed and individual personality of the dog.
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri

    What you describe is fairly similar to the part of my property devoted to chickens. When we purchased the ground I first tried to keep chickens with no fencing. Predators proved to be a challenge so one dog followed by another was acquired. Eventually will have three dogs to allow for sheep and goats on additional 5 acres. Acreage involved is a bit tight for typical livestock guarding dogs and the dogs do not bond to chickens themselves but rather defend the property which is much more doable. Problem is dogs do roam a bit and chickens will themselves roam off property make their defense more difficult. Fences were employed first to confine some flocks, especially young American Dominiques to particular areas. Poultry netting in particular was used to complicate things for Red Fox that would be extremely difficult for dogs to detect when direct sight of one often blocked by cover provided for chickens. Dogs now based at house with poultry setups radiating from that center making so dogs can more effectively scan and reach the entire place.

    My dogs are pets also but no trained to always be under foot.

    Current dogs were based around house as pets although next will be based in 10 x 10 kennel in barn next to similar chicken kennels and livestock. The last dog will use barn as base. Transitioning later is tough. I do not crate even dogs in house. Damage will be realized but all crated dogs I have seen lack certain qualities I like in working dogs, especially when it comes to mental stability.

    With adult dog present I let pups stay out overnight by 8 weeks. With pup only I do not want it getting into anything tougher than a opossum for the first year and a coyote one on one not until 2 years.

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