I've finally convinced my husband to convert our large dog house (which the dog never uses) into a coop, by raising it up, adding some user-friendly doors on one side and a nesting box on the other. We'll also provide a large run for our small flock (4 hens) to hang out in when they aren't free ranging. Here are some concerns some of you may be able to help me with: 1) after doing research, I've decided to go with 4 different breeds (one each) Black Australorp, Plymouth Barred Rock, an Easter Egger and a Buff Orphington. I'm a little hesitant about the Buff, as I've heard good and bad reviews from owners, but the larger issue is getting these little ladies! Local feed stores have a requirement of at least 6 OR they just let you pick from the 3 or so breeds they have on hand. I'd like to get day-old chicks, as I'd like to socialize them to us and our 2 younger boys. I want good pets as well as good layers!!! Minimum order requirment and availability is also an issue with the hatcheries (I've check with Meyer for April). 2) A good way to teach a german shepherd mix not to eat the girls??? He is extremely jealous of us giving affection to our cat, and chases the cat away every chance he gets (though they play together when they think we aren't looking). I've heard to give them a "whack" if they go after the chicks at all and they'll get the message...maybe socializing him early like we are doing the boys would help rather than a whack??? I'm so excited, maybe I'm over-thinking this?