Pack mentality of dogs with chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ashleymroles, Mar 26, 2016.

  1. ashleymroles

    ashleymroles Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 15, 2016
    Cato, NY
    I have seven dogs, six 5 week old pullets, and a 7 week old rooster. I introduced some of our dogs on day 1, until one of the chihuahuas scalped my RSL. They haven't been in each other's sight since. Next weekend the girls and their brother will move into the coop. They have a run attached to their coop that the dogs won't be able to breach and we're going to fence in a larger part of the yard to be used for free ranging. Also, the chickens will have free roam of our 1.5 acre backyard while we're at work (as long as the rooster learns to do his job) during the day and the dogs are inside.

    Anyway, most of the dogs are okay with the chickens when I'm holding them, but two of the chihuahuas and two jack Russell's can't seem to "leave it" for longer than 30 seconds.

    Our German Shepard mix was one of the disinterested ones when he was first introduced. He actually sat next to the brooder while I held the chicks during the first few days. He can jump a six foot fence, so jumping our four foot chicken fence would be a breeze if he really wanted them. He has killed an unsuspecting wild rabbit and bird.

    I think the pitbull would think they're her babies, like she does with the chihuahuas, but she can be unpredictable.

    The pit and shepherd currently have shock collars to keep them from jumping the fence and being wild monsters. Our oldest dog is only five years old, so they're still high energy dogs.

    Individual dogs are not the issue. They're wimps when they're by themselves and I can control one at a time, but two or more is an issue. One of them gets barking and the others go berserk over cars driving down the road or the neighbors walking in their front yard. I can only imagine their reaction to a group to flapping chicken wings.

    I don't want our chickens and dogs to be best friends, but I want them to be able to coexist in the same yard with a small fence between them. Any ideas?

    Btw, my dogs and chickens are family. Neither will be rehomed.
  2. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 27, 2013
    Northern Wisconsin
    You will likely be able to get at least the bigger dogs to behave while you are around them I have a friend with a couple Shepard mutts that are good around the chickens doesn't take them long to learn. Little dogs I find harder to train on all accounts than large breeds they just seem to think differently. Your biggest problem is going to be having so many dogs you will need to work with them individually until they get a good grip on what is going on. The shock collar works well but they will learn when they aren't wearing it they can't get the shock.
  3. Mini Meat

    Mini Meat Chillin' With My Peeps

    You can get some dummy shock collars for around $20.00. They don't work but if you give all the dogs experience with the real shock collars then rotate who gets the real and who gets the dummy. The dogs won't be able to tell which one they are wearing.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I would think you might need to train each dog individually that the birds are a NO, then train again as a group.
    Depending on how well the dogs are already trained for recall and voice command, could be a daunting task or near impossible.
    Fencing makes good neighbors...... and keeps pet dogs from becoming successful predators.
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Full grown birds will get in some licks of their own with a small dog, enough might give them some respect, but chickens do tend to run away, and that will cause them to be chased, a pack of dogs can really cause problems, and could easily kill the chickens. I am pretty sure the Jack Russell's will really chase them, as they were bred for ratting.

    Good fences are your best bet. Dogs tend to be predators of chickens. Some are not, and some are, sometimes it depends on their age or breeding, but a group of dogs will act differently than a single dog. I don't see them coexisting without a fence.

    Mrs K
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
  6. animalcule

    animalcule New Egg

    Apr 4, 2016
    Northern New Mexico
    I agree that training each dog individually is going to be essential. I'm new to chickens but have three young dogs and while Im hoping to get them chicken-safe one day (none of my dogs are hunting or herding breeds so I have a slight advantage) it's probably going to take months or years of working with each one frequently.. Until then I'll take them out individually on leashes if the chickens are out of a secure coop. You may want to get an x-pen for your small dogs. You definitely don't want them to develop the habit of charging or digging at the fence line when the chickens are out.
  7. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    We have a hot wire around the outside of our chicken pens, about 6 inches off the ground. Any dog that goes sniffing around, checking out chickens or even looking for a way in eventually touches nose to that wire in the process of checking things out. A shock to the nose has convinced many a dog around here that the chickens are BAD things to think about messing with! My own dogs are raised and trained to ignore the chickens but I often have neighbor dogs that come over with their owners when they come to my husbands shop. Several of them have visited the chicken pen and have left for home at high speed after getting a shock, never to set foot near the pen again. I've had some people say this is mean and no, a shock to the nose is not pleasant but it's also not harmful and it's certainly not pleasant for a chicken to be mauled to death by a dog either.

    Your dogs *may* be trainable in regards to the chickens to some degree or another, or maybe not. Some of the breeds you own are high energy, high prey drive dogs. I would make sure to build a very secure pen for your chickens. Train your dogs every chance you get, it will be ongoing. But don't ever trust them when your not around, even for just a moment.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  8. ashleymroles

    ashleymroles Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 15, 2016
    Cato, NY

    I'm totally fine with the electric fence method. The two dogs we have shock collars on all the time to keep them from jumping the fence or misbehaving have learned quickly. We hardly have issues with them, but the German Shepherd somehow figures out when the collar runs out of batteries and ends up jumping anyway. The electric fence would never run out of battery so that would solve the problem.

    DH is worried about the chickens getting shocked. Is that a concern?
  9. ashleymroles

    ashleymroles Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 15, 2016
    Cato, NY
    Thank you all so much for the responses.

    With the crazy winter weather in upstate NY we haven't put the chicks in their coop yet so they're still hidden away from the dogs.

    We are going to work with them individually on leashes. We'll bring treats with us and every time they respond to "leave it" or "sit-stay", they'll get a treat. I'd like to try positive reinforcement first. The only problem with this is they can be great individually but when they get together as a pack it's hard to get them to listen.

    I'm also considering going negative too with the electric wire fence or shock collars. The chickens will be locked up for the first few days anyway so they know where home is.
  10. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    Just something that pops out from your original post: Your 4ft tall fence. Training may keep the dogs out, but your fence might not be able to keep your chickens in (depending on breeds). A 4ft fence easily contains my Silkies and frizzles, but my normal feathered breeds can fly over 6ft tall chain link...something to consider.

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