Owning a bird dog and chicks...

PacsMan

Songster
10 Years
Feb 8, 2009
671
5
141
Salt Lake Valley
We have a 2 1/2 year old Brittany Spaniel. He’s a pretty good dog, but a little hyper. (Like most Britts) We’ve never had him hunting, but his breed are excellent hunters. I’ve seen many a dog on point while hunting with my dad years ago.

We’re new to chickens this year. Ours are 7 weeks old, and almost ready to go outside for good. We’ve had them outside in our chicken tractor for a couple of hours on warm days, and they love it.

“Buddy” loves it too. He’ll sit and ‘point’ at them for several minutes at a time. He’ll stare and watch their every move. (I can just hear my dad saying, “go flush ‘em out!”). A couple of times he’s been so still that the chicks run up to him and ‘ask’ for treats. We’re always out there when Buddy is there, but he’s jumped at the tractor twice. (At which time he’s been scolded.)

I don’t want to dissuade him from his natural instinct of watching/pointing at the chickens, but I neither do I want dead or harassed chickens.

Question; as the chicks get older, will the dog get used to them and leave them alone, or am I going to always have to keep a VERY close eye on him every time we let him out?

I plan on letting the chickens out of their tractor for a couple of hours each day, and in a perfect world, Buddy would be able to come out and not bother them

Am I dreaming?


Anyone had experience with Brittany Spaniels and Chickens?

Marty
 

tellynpeep

Songster
11 Years
Oct 4, 2008
969
35
184
SW New Hampshire
A friend has a brittany who has killed numerous chickens. He is also bird-obsessed (will try to catch a robin if he sees one.) However, my last bird dog, a retriever, was great with the chickens. He seemed to take a paternal attitude towards them. (He also competed with them for left-over scraps when I tossed them in the yard.) He would never hurt a bird. In general, I wouldn't trust the Brit. Individual dogs vary, but a "hyper" bird dog will probably bite first, ask questions later. You MAY be able to trust him, but I would be very very sure of that before you let him loose with the chicks.
 

Fancie

Songster
11 Years
Oct 31, 2008
795
3
151
Illinois
my dog is a mutt... but he was very bird obsessed. My husbands a hunter and when he would bring a bird home my dog would get hyper, snap at it, his teeth would chatter, he would whine... the whole nine yards. I never thought I would ever be able to trust him around my chickens... and at first we were right. He killed 5 - 6 of my first chicks, the spacing on the cage was too big and they just slipped right threw.

One day my birds got out somehow (my cage wasn't very secure at the time) and he left it alone. I was amazed.

He still can't be trusted with chicks, but he dosen't mess with the adults.

But every dog is diffrant. I would muzzle him or something and watch him before I trust him completly
 

Eric in NC

In the Brooder
11 Years
Dec 5, 2008
67
0
39
Don't have Brittanys but my Setters and Pointers can't be trusted. They don't want to "kill" the birds, just to pick them up and bring them to me (like good boys!) which would kill the birds anyway.

An invisible fence for the dogs and a fenced run for the chickens is the only way it can work for my situation.
 

Silkiefan

Songster
11 Years
Jan 1, 2009
344
3
131
I'm pretty sure that any dog of any breed will be tempted to eat a fluffy snack if not supervised. Just last night, my Border Collie leaned into the dog kennel / chick house and took a snap at one of my silkies, and I instinctively BAPPED her on the shoulder. She's a sensitive dog, and I'm never mean to her, so me being mad at her like this really upset her. Now she's nervous to come into my spare room to watch the chicks with me. I don't even allow the Labrador in because she loves to hunt moles... I don't think you should let your Brittany run with the chickens unsupervised.
Maybe raising a dog as a puppy with chickens would de-sensitize it to it's natural instincts to hunt... but I think all dogs will go back to their wolf heritage when there's a tasty little niblet peeping at them! -- Hey wait, Ceasar Millan did an episode of Dog Whisperer with a Yellow Lab that kept killing the family chickens... check it out on youtube.com - I will too...
 

peacockgurl

In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 6, 2009
21
0
22
Silver Springs, Nevada
I dot have Brits but I have a terrier and a border collie/aussie shepherd mix. Both dogs were originally very interested in the chickens and peacocks when we first got them. After a couple barks, chases, and one close call with one of the chickens and the border collie (found the dog with a feather sticking out of her mouth and a very peeved chicken), the dogs finally got disinterested and the chickens are now able to run around free.
 

BarkerChickens

Microbrewing Chickenologist
12 Years
Nov 25, 2007
3,508
16
244
High Desert, CA
Our dogs (you can see the breed mixes in our description at the bottom of the post) do well with our chickens. HOWEVER, it took training! We had to use a shock collar on Casey, the aussie mix. She is a bird obsessed dog and actually "protects" our chickens because she goes after birds that are not a part of her pack (stray birds that fly overhead). She is very good with our chickens (our chickens free-range with the dogs and cat when we are home). They got her on the nose a few times to teach her though too. Our cattle dog mix needed some work too (but too sensitive for a shock collar). Our Brittany/BC mix is scared of the chickens for some reason, so I can't help with that part. If you have the patience and are firm about training, it is definitely doable.

Also, break your dogs intensity of staring at the chicks. That will feed his instinct and make training more difficult. At least that is what we were told when we had to work with Casey.
 

PortageGirl

Songster
11 Years
Nov 8, 2008
2,511
13
181
Portage County, Ohio
I had a Cocker Spaniel years ago who was very trustworthy with both chicks and older birds. He seemed to know they were part of our (his?) property, and so needed looking after. Once when we had day olds that got old enough to get out of their brooder, he'd pick them up gently and put them back IN. (till too many started doing it and he just gave up and laid down with a big sad sigh and watched em run amok.) He never harmed a ONE doing it either, which it probably should have just stressed them and/or damaged them at least!!!

He was probably an exception though, I guess it's all environment though, cause we had the Cocker, a German Shepherd, and two Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mixes who were fine (though one BC/Aussie would probably have been a danger without the older one to teach him right).

A leash, consistant reinforcement, and care, I think it'll be fine.
 

KatyTheChickenLady

Bird of A Different Feather
11 Years
Dec 20, 2008
5,146
18
251
Boise, Idaho
We have a beautiful brit who is extremely well trained, and I have trained many over the years. If you can train the instinct out of yours you will have done some thing no one else has ever done. They are the most wonderful dogs but they are dual purpose (point and retrieve)and the insticnt is in them so strong, keep your chickies penned up.
 

lostsoulhelpmejebus

Incubating Fool
11 Years
Sep 23, 2008
642
4
141
Roanoke, Illinois
I have a Brittany/Springer boy and he "bird dogs" the chickens...will run around their fence, drives the chickens crazy! He has not had the opportunity to get into the pen or get close to the chickens but he cannot be trusted. He catches birds and any other small animals like opossum, fox, etc. Love him but he is a bird dog, through and through.
 

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