Teaching dog to guard chickens and bark at things

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by CanadaEh, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. CanadaEh

    CanadaEh Songster

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    I have got 6 months old Great Pyr/Lab mix pup. She is ok with chickens - does not try to grab or chase them - although we have only tried on leash so far. She likes to lay or sit and watch them. But she does not guard them. I.e. she will not necessarily come to look at them if they make alarming sounds and she ignores any wild birds flying above.

    Does she need to be thought to be more protective and bark at things that don't belong and how, or will it come to her with time?
     
  2. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    Dogs do not see flying birds overhead as a threat because birds are not a predator of dogs. I'm not sure if you can train the dog to view them as a threat :confused: This does not mean your dog will not guard your chickens. My dog totally ignores the birds overhead, but if a neighbor dog wanders over she gets between the strange dog and the chickens with her fur up and tries to chase them away from the chickens (she does the same if my cat is outside and will protect the cat from strange dogs). My dog will also alert me by barking to any strange person or animal on the property... but again, things she does not view as threats she does not alert to. She generally doesn't alert to rabbits and rodents but will alert to coyotes, strange dogs and people, bobcats, etc. I suspect if something like a weasel was here my dog would not alert (not viewed by a large dog as a threat), but she would likely get quite excited and try to catch it.

    The key to training is to catch your dog doing the desired behavior and reward it. You can't make a dog bark, but if a dog barks at someone or something and you want your dog to bark at that thing in future, you can tell them how good they are and give them treats every time they do this behavior naturally and over time they will realize this is what you want and do it intentionally.

    I take my dog with me every time I tend to the chickens/ducks. I pair it with a command, as we head outside I say let's "check the chickens" and we go directly to the coop when I have said this. My dog is curious and hangs out while I do my chores. Over time she learned to associate "check the chickens" with going out to the coop. Now I just open the front door and say go "check the chickens" and she runs straight to the coop, even if I stay inside. Now I can just send her out to check on things after dark, or if there's a suspicious noise, etc.

    Good luck. There are some people with a lot of dog training experience on this site; I'm sure you will get some great advice/tips!
     
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  3. CanadaEh

    CanadaEh Songster

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    well, the problem is she only barks when she hears or think she hears dogs at other properties and which never been a threat. Is there any way I could act upset/distressed about turkey vulture or crow sitting in a tree that would made here feel it is a threat or nuisance? She's still a pup though more concern about own safety than safety of her pack.

    did you manage to make your dog ignore poop and any other potentially tasty junk in the chicken/duck run?
     
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  4. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Crowing

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    I trained my Plott Hounds to bark and jump at birds flying over our yard ...

    I would jump and yell in a threating voice, even "barking", shaking and waving my arms when a bird would fly overhead ... neighbors probably thought I was crazy ... they just might be right! ;)

    When dogs started following my example ... they got treats! Soon the "protecting their property" instinct kicked into full gear ... it was fun! My female always came looking for treats, even after I stopped "showing them by example" ... she was a little piglet! The male was more like "see, I'm big and brave, just doing my JOB!"
     
  5. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    Haha, my dog looooooovvvveeesss to eat chicken and duck poop, food, treats, etc. She even sticks her paws through the fencing to try and pull a tasty morsel closer. She spends lots of time doing this if she has nothing better to do. I have given up. I figure dogs eat (and roll in) gross things and I can't stop it (maybe with more consistent training I could). I have mixed feelings about it... because she likes it, she visits the coops often, which is good for deterring predators, also it automatically rewards the behavior of going to the coops, and since there is food involved she is more inclined to protect it from intruders.

    I'm not sure about training a dog to recognize "threats" as mine does this by instinct. There's probably a good technique for it, but I just don't know what it is :confused: Hopefully someone else can help you there.
     
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  6. MROO

    MROO Free Ranging

    Oooooh! Plott pictures. please! LOVE those dogs!
     
  7. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    I LOVE it! Even if the dogs don't view them as a threat, dogs definitely learn by example (for better or worse) when it comes to excitement. If you make the birds overhead exciting, the dogs will get excited too! Think about when you have a bunch of people at a picnic or kids running around a playground screaming, dogs get excited and act excited and it can be hard to keep them calm. This is something you can build on and trigger as @123RedBeard has shown :gig
     
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  8. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Crowing

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    I don't do pictures ... and certainly no video of me out "demonstrating" desired doggie reactions to birds :lau ... they didn't care, nor I, if it was a dove, or a hawk!
     
  9. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    You know @123RedBeard I may have to try this. When food is scarce the wild birds all come near the coops and hang out along the fence and the roof (bringing their parasites with them and escalating my feed bill). I try and get my dog to run out and chase them off but it never seems to work, I guess I just have not been a good enough example!
     
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  10. llombardo

    llombardo Crowing

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    I do not free range but the dogs do guard the perimeter of the run. My german shepherd would most likely kill a chicken, not on purpose but prey drive and he doesn't have a soft mouth. He even chases bees, along with squirrels(they drive him nuts and talk to him) and low flying birds. . But he does a phenomenal job keeping raccoons and oppossums out of the yard and on the other side of the fence. He also doesn't like when the chickens squabble. He, along with all the otvers seem to know the chickens belong and predators don't.
     
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