Suggestions needed!! Training a new puppy with the chickens!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Bec, Dec 8, 2007.

  1. Bec

    Bec THE Delaware Blue Hen

    Hi all!! I am in need of some help!! I need some suggestions on how to train my new puppy to not chase my chickens!!! As some of you know I lost my little Jack last week to a hawk. The very next day while I was at work, the hubby and kids were outside with the dogs and the puppy grabbed my poor Pearl, aka Boo Boo, and luckily she is ok, she had just a small cut on her back and it is mostly healed up now. So since that event, I started rotating I have the dogs out early, then let the girls out for a bit, lure them back into the pen, let the dogs back out, then let the girls back out..sheewweee, that is a lot of work. No let me just say, my other 2 dogs are absolutly fine with the chickens and helped me raise them in my living room last spring! It is just this new puppy that is really testing me. Now the simple solution would be to lock up the girls...My opinion..I don't think that is very fair to them because it was their yard first. And If I do that, Ace will never learn what is good and bad. Any suggestion on where to start??? [​IMG]
  2. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Crowing

    This is what I did after my corgi killed one of my birds:
    The chickens are the rulers of the backyard. Period. The dogs can not look at them, smell them, be around them. If the chickens come over to the dogs, the dogs must submit. When I let the girls out, I would watch those dogs (I have three) like a hawk to make sure the dogs followed the rules. It took some time because the dogs were curious, but it has worked out perfectly.
    The dogs are great around the chickens. If a bird walks up to a dog, the dog will get up and walk away!! If I throw bread, etc. outside and the dogs are eating it, they will go away if a bird comes up to eat. I've seen my birds go beak to nose with a dog over food and the dog always backs down.
    But, you have to use this technique with EVERYTHING re. your dog, not just the birds. The dogs must respect you and listen to you before you get your birds involved.
  3. Bec

    Bec THE Delaware Blue Hen

    Did you keep them on a leash at first? My problem is that the puppy is learning how to come when called, which recenlty is almost non-existant. My girls do rule the yard and that what I need him to learn. I see it as it was their yard first, he has to learn how to deal with it.
    How did you correct the dogs when they did sniff or look at them? It seems like this may work, I just need to know how to do it. I also have 3 dogs.
  4. tink

    tink Songster

    May 12, 2007
    upstate SC
    Hey.... I know this might get some bad feed back but....When we moved into our house we inherited 2 goats which our dog was very interested in! We yelled and spanked and finally we bought a shock collar that has a remote hand held controller. It only took maybe 4 or 5 shocks and he learned quick. You shock and voice command him at the same time and quickly it will only take the voice command to control the dog. Now if we have some reason to calm him down quickly we clip on the collar(don't even turn it on) and he calms down quick.

    The other thing we did was we bought new baby chicks and kept them in the house for a few weeks. We told our big dog that they were his babies!! He now is very protective of them and often we find him in the middle of them with the chickens feeding all around him. By the way, he is a Pit/Boxer mix. Best dog around!!
    Good luck
  5. Below is my (now) standard rant on puppy training. I've gotten to do this twice and it has worked for me. Obedience from the dog is key, as well as consistency from you. It takes lots of time to train a puppy, good luck.

    We have four dogs (2 Labs, 1 Retriever mix, 1 Great Pyrenees), all of whom are good with the birds. We got the Pyr as a puppy and it is her training that we are using as a model for the new puppy. The other dogs we got at a much older age. We never had a problem with them, but they are pretty obedient.

    Our training method is similar to how a Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) is trained. The difference is we are training to guard chickens not sheep. So, the demands of this training are a bit easier. All we need the dogs to do is guard a fenced area and to not eat or chase the chickens. Simple right?

    Well, as one might imagine, puppies like to chase feathery objects that make interesting sounds, run, flap wings and fly a mere three feet off the ground; what fun. A key factor in the training is to break the association of chicken with fun. It is a sort of socialization process. Here’s how it goes:

    Level 1
    1. Once house broken, the puppy sleeps in a crate in the chicken coop.
    2. The puppy eats meals near the chickens. We do this by feeding the dog next to the chicken coop with the birds near.
    3. Chicken chores are done with the puppy tethered to you.
    4. No playing is allowed. All other dogs or playmates (children, etc) are not allowed in the area when the puppy is “working” with the chickens.
    5. The puppy is not allowed to chase the chickens. Any attempts are corrected with a snap of the leash and a bark-like “NO”.
    6. Closely watched bird introductions are done. With the puppy on a leash, we hold a bird and allow the puppy to calmly sniff the bird. Excited attempts to “play” with the bird are reprimanded. We are trying to desensitize the dog to the birds, so this is done a several times.

    Once Level 1 is working well – this can take a few weeks - we move to Level 2:

    Level 2
    Most of Level 1 still applies, except now we try some limited “off leash” interaction with the puppy and birds. All contact must be closely supervised. It is important that the dog is responding to your commands to not pursue the birds. Commands like “NO” and “Leave It” should be understood by the dog. We believe obedience from the dog is the critical factor.

    If a chase does begin, one technique used to show your disapproval is to bark a “NO”, take the dog by the scruff of the neck and roll the dog on its side, now glare at the dog. This is similar to how an adult dog reprimands a puppy. As you might notice, for this to work you must be close and watchful of the dog.

    Level 2 progresses with more time with the dog with the birds. The goal is for the dog to ignore the birds. No stalking, no excited lunges as birds dart around or fly to a roost, no staring imagining how tasty they might be, nothing. By the end, the dog shouldn’t even look at the birds and it she does she should be reprimanded, LEAVE IT!

    So, that’s it. That’s the plan. I think if one can train their dogs along these lines, the dogs can be expect to behave whether the birds are fenced off or free range with the dogs.

  6. Jim thanks for posting that. I got a Maremma pup recently and she is just 8 weeks old today, so I know I have a road ahead of me, and what you state there was my basic plan so good to know it works for you!
  7. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

    Apr 4, 2007
    Mansfield, MO
    lthanks Jim, I am going to try your method with my half great pyr and half moose..Hagrid!! [​IMG] He is a monster and just wants to play but he killed one half grown chook while "playing". I keep him in a pen now when the chickens are loose so he won't bother them. He was raised in a pen within the, not raised...he lived in the coop in a pen for about 4 weeks until he outgrew everything to keep him in. He is just about too big for me to handle and he is three months old. I need to implement your training immediately.
  8. I really like the LGD breeds. I love the picture of the Maremma and the bison.

    Half Pyr/half moose, cool [​IMG] I would love to see Hagrid. Our Pyr is named Fluffy after Hagrid's three headed dog.

    A believe the Maremmas are similar to the Pyrs in that they mature slower than their bodies grow. Life can be a bit rough until they reach 1.5 years. Fluffy is now 2.5 and she's great. The barking is at a reasonable level (if you don't count barking at horses, deer, crows, snow, flies, satellites, stars, etc) (DW) and she seems to keep the yard very predator proof.

    Couple of other things. I stop using the "alpha roll" (grab them by the scruff and rolling them). I heard that it is not that effective.

    I also have another tip for the LGDs that run too much and like to escape. When Fluffy was younger, we actually used a drag. This is often used to training LGDs. It’s a piece of fire wood chained to Fluffy’s collar. The drag discourages running, makes jumping on the fence and escape difficult. It may sound cruel, but the discomfort is regulated by the dog’s actions. If she is calm, all is good. If she runs and jumps, the drag bounces around making this uncomfortable. It is also better than getting a call that the dog has jumped the fence to follow a horse and rider and is now half a mile away. The drag also helps stop, or at least slow down, chasing of the geese and ducks.

    Sorry for getting off topic.

    BEC: What kick of puppy do you have??

    Last edited: Dec 9, 2007
  9. I have heard of the drag being used, but was told it should be a longish thick stick/log and one end with the rope at the right length to smack them in the back paws if the dog was running full out, but not bother them so much at a trot. Is that what you did, adjust the length like that? It would sure discourage chasing if you could get it right, but it would slow up guarding too left on too long.

    Ya, the Maremma is slow maturing, that's why I say I know I'm in for the long haul here, but if she is one 10th the dog my rescue is she will be totally worth it. Put her on a leash today for the first time, she took it so well and learned fast how to avoid the pull by giving to pressure.
  10. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

    Apr 4, 2007
    Mansfield, MO
    Jim, here is a photo of Hagrid at 3 weeks and again at 5 weeks, I believe. Mother dog was full great pyr but they didn't know what the father dog was? Hound maybe? Mother dog quit taking care of them @3 weeks is why we got him so early.
    I have to get an updated pic. Sorry, did not mean to hyjack this thread.

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