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Puppy attacked chickens - what does this mean??

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by chicks4jansk, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. chicks4jansk

    chicks4jansk New Egg

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    Hello, I am new here - to this site but also new to being a chicken owner as well - which I have really come to enjoy doing. We purchased a home that came with livestock, chickens so we jumped right into caring for adult chickens. I have read countless tips/tricks to catch up on caring for chickens 101. What I have not come across yet, which brings me here today, is when a puppy discovers the taste of chickens do they turn to be an aggressive dog as they grow older? I understand this question might be more geared to owning a dog but I'm hoping I get better luck asking it here with other fellow chicken owners than somewhere else. To give you a bit of back story, we have a 4mo old German Shepherd mix puppy. Thus far he has a very soft temperament, already extremely smart and quick to train, and is great with small kids. Other than typical puppy mouthing, he is as sweet as can be. We started him out from day around the chickens thinking if he grew up near them then he will be used to them and therefore, not feel the need to attack them. It was going so well. We had absolutely no signs of worry. He never chased them, he let them walk near him (when they wanted to get that close that is), he would drop his toys near them in hopes they would play with him; one time they did and started playing a bit of tug of war. As we felt more comfortable with them around each other, we would allow them all to wander the backyard. It was all great and peachy-keen until yesterday afternoon. My husband went outside to find the puppy gnawing on one of them [​IMG], another one has an open wound on its back, and the others were hiding and visibly traumatized. We are caring for the wounded chicken and she seems to be holding up ok. She's eating and carrying on as if nothing ever happened. - we know now that we cannot have the dog near the chickens but should we be concerned that after all this he will become an aggressive dog? I want a dog that protects, not attacks. Please provide any advice, tips, suggestions you may have especially if you have encountered a similar situation. Thank you!
     
  2. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    I read your post....
    Sounds like your pup is actually learning but when left to make his own decisions? He got excited and made the wrong ones....

    What I do with young dogs is set them up to fail in order to correct the wrong behaviour...Can not learn what has not been taught...
    Have him tied up when you can not be with him, or have the birds locked in while your not out...I have a young dog who grabbed my Duck this spring and was swinging him...I corrected that in moments....She does not look at my Ducks no more..She has tried to chase my Chickens but does have good recall and knows sit, lay down and stay...Work on all the basic commands till the dog will do them without hesitation...I still never fully trust her yet, she is turning one next month...
    A flighty prey animal and a predator that is young is like fuel to a flame...

    I totally believe your dog will not be aggressive, he needs training...

    Best of luck
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    It can take up to 2 years or more to train a puppy enough to trust them completely unsupervised.
    Pup is still very young.

    I guess setting them to fail as described above so you can catch them in the act and correct them might work.
    I prefer to make sure they don't get in a position to get into trouble.
     
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Good advice in above posts. Pup is young, it will take time. This does not mean that the dog will always be aggressive toward your chickens. The trustworthiness will come with maturity. The idea that "once they taste blood they will always be chicken killers" is an old wives' tale. What happened was, your pup found some self-propelled squeaky toys to play with and couldn't resist.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Adalida

    Adalida Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't think your puppy will grow up to be aggressive. I'm sincerely not trying to be hard on you, but in my opinion where you went wrong was when the puppy was playing tug of war with the chicken and his toy, and you didn't immediately tell him no and stop it. He saw the chicken as something he was allowed to play with. He might not have even meant to kill a chicken, he might have just tried to play with it. If you've watched puppies playing, I'm sure you've seen how they grab and wrestle each other.
    You can definitely train him but I wouldn't let him alone with the chickens for a very long time yet. When we got our first batch of ducks and chickens, we had two dogs, an Aussie mix and a Lab. I knew, from years experience of watching the Aussie chase wild rabbits and small animals, that she had no instinct at all to bite. I've seen rabbits freeze and she stops and waits for them to run again. So I wasn't concerned she would kill a chicken, but knew she'd want to chase them. As for the Lab, she had actually hunted ducks for seven years, so I knew she would gladly kill them if given the chance. Both dogs are completely trustworthy around the flock now and it really wasn't that hard to train them. They both had been taught obedience from a young age though. We kept them on leashes when the birds were free ranging and immediately corrected any over eager behavior. The Lab is very hard headed so it wasn't just a gentle "no no" correction, but a very strong "don't you dare even think about it" which she knows means she will heartily regret disobeying. The day I saw a chicken peck her on the head, and she slunk away without retaliating, I knew she would be okay with them.
    Just work on your pup with basic obedience for now. Don't encourage him to interact with the chickens but rather treat them as something off limits.
     
  6. carlf

    carlf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hes a puppy, its like having a toddler with teeth.
    You never leave them unsupervised, he probably wanted to "play" with the chickens.
    Unsupervised, you see the results.

    Our dog was over three years old when we got our hens. She was exposed to them via watching them through the fence of the run for months before we let them out in the yard together. After 3 supervised afternoon togehter in the backyard, we had no problems
    But shes an adult, not a puppy. I would never leave a puppy unsupervised with chickens.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    And probably already well trained overall too.
    Year 3 seems a milestone year....that's the year I see as puppydom being fully complete.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2016
  8. carlf

    carlf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Back the original question, "what does this mean??"

    It means that other than when the dog is supervised, you need to keep then separated until the dog is trained and out of the puppy stage.
    It does not mean the dog will always see your chickens as chew toys. Just like (most) dogs out-grow chewing up your shoes.
    But it does mean you will need to be extra vigilant and work extra hard on training.

    I hope it works out, having a dog to watch the chickens is really the best predator deterrent out there.
     
  9. chicks4jansk

    chicks4jansk New Egg

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    Thank you for your reply - you made some great points! If nothing else, I hope this was a great learning opportunity for him. :)
     
  10. chicks4jansk

    chicks4jansk New Egg

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    Not hard on me in the least, I honestly expected worse. Without having any experience with chickens, let alone a dog near chickens, I was naive to think I could just wing it day by day. Unfortunately we lost a chicken because of this thinking - I definitely learned my lesson!
    I'm pleased to hear of others being cautious with their dogs, even the most trusted dogs, around their chickens. It makes me feel better about my pup and also helps me understand the mistake I made. In other words, its really helpful to know. :)
    Although I have little experience with chickens, I have quite a bit with training dogs. One dog in particular was sharp as a whip. Very well trained and was the most trusted dog I've had the pleasure of working with. Unfortunately, no matter how well trained she was, when a bunny came near she would take off. She was a running dog so once her eyesight caught a bunny in the distance, there was no way to get her to come back or slow down. It was the only thing I could not deter her - so when adopting our new GS puppy I knew I immediately wanted to introduce him to the chickens so he would be used to them and in hopes of not finding them as an exciting critter running around. It was working and he exhibited no signs like my previous dog, I thought I was onto something there. Its too bad but definitely a lesson learned.

    Thanks everyone for your feedback. I truly appreciate it!
     

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