The trouble with dogs....

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ronikins, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. ronikins

    ronikins Songster

    Apr 18, 2010
    SW Missouri (Ozarks)
    For about a month or more our black lab / blue heeler (11 months old) was fine around the chickens. Of course, most the time she was outside, I was around or she wasn't out more than 30 minutes TOPS by herself. Well, I had to leave this past weekend to go to my grandmother's 80th party in south TX. Apparently, me saying over and over and over that the dog shouldn't be left outside by herself for more than 30 min or so didn't sink in.

    Friday night, I get a call that the husband found a dead chicken about 20 feet from the coop. It was missing it's head and neck. It looked like whatever did it started into the breast but stopped. At the time, he had gone in for a four hour nap and left the dog outside (middle of the day). Well, we tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. I figured maybe it was a hawk (we have ALOT of them around), or a fox. I told him DO NOT leave her outside! Several times! Why do men not listen??? Monday morning, I get a frantic call. He got up around 6 to let the chickens out. It was nice and cool and the dog was wet from running through the pond, so he decided to leave her oustide while he slept a little more. He got up around 9:30. Went outside and she came running from around the garage with feathers in her mouth. He went to look and found my sweet little rooster, Rusty, laying there. It just breaks my heart. Well, husband said Rusty was pretty tore up and was barely breathing. He comforted him and then killed him.

    I came home Tuesday (yesterday) and noticed something wrong with the feathers around one of the other's neck. Grabbed her and under a top layer of feathers, her neck is raw, I mean down to the meat. It's clean. She eats and runs around like nothing's wrong. I plan on going down to the feed store to see about some antibiotics. But I think she'll be ok.

    I brought home the rooster I gave my friend. He's a RIR. He's just not nearly as friendly as Rusty was. Ugh, there's such a void where my little boy was. My husband was pretty tore up about it too. He still is, really.

    I've talked with my mom, my friend (he's an older man that's raised ALOT of chickens), his mom, and a few other people. I've been told that dogs CANNOT be taught to not attack chickens. It's just in their instinct to do it. But then I've been told that it CAN be done. With alot of monitoring, treats, and time, it can be done. I've heard, for a long time now, that once they taste blood, they'll keep attacking. I just don't know. I love my dog. I definitely don't want to get rid of her. What I figure is she was just playing around and got too rough. But now I'm so afraid to leave her outside more than 5 minutes even. I was out hanging clothes on the line and she was laying there chewing on a stick. The chickens came right up to her and she did nothing. I'm still really not totally convince she attacked Rusty. I wonder if it's possible that something got to him and she was just there after the fact. She was bad about eating feathers before all this anyways.

    I just don't know.

    Sorry for the long post. I guess I needed to vent. Thanks for reading and any advice....
  2. 2bradleys

    2bradleys In the Brooder

    Sep 23, 2009
    Your dog is a breed with a higher prey drive. Yes, you might be able to teach her not to attack the chickens...but at this point, it'd be a lot of work. Why not keep the dog and the chickens separate? You can't fault your dog (ie get rid of her) for doing what's instinctual to her. You're the human with logic and reasoning on your side...if you have a dog that can't cohabitate with animals of prey, then protect your birds AND your dog and keep them separated!!!!

    For the record, I have two American Pit Bull Terriers. Neither one of them pay any attention whatsoever to the chickens. Would they bother the chickens if left unsupervised with them? I couldn't tell you, I've never left the two together alone and unprotected because I don't want to set either animal up for failure.

    Lastly...good luck with that RIR rooster. I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule, but as a general rule, RIR roosters are notoriously vicious. My Dad had to beat one to death with a tobacco stick one time to get it off of him. His name was Evil Rooster.
  3. abercrombie575

    abercrombie575 Songster

    Feb 9, 2010
    The title of this post should have been ... the trouble with husbands... ha ha.
    I think that you are just going to have to keep them apart. Now that the dog "has a taste for it" it will harder than ever to stop him. I see no fault in what the dog did. He was only doing what comes naturally to him. So, I think a fenced in run is the answer. Since your husband got plenty of rest while you were gone (nap and sleeping late) he is the one to build it for you! Best of luck!
  4. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Songster

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    It's not so much about tasting blood; i think it's more about them associating that pile of feathers that's walking around the yard - with food. However, it doesn't sound like your dog was looking for food. He was playing. Deciding on your dog's motivations is really important imo. I'm no professional dog person, by any thin stretch, but i do have three dogs who i can trust not to eat my chickens. In the same breath, i have had dogs in the past, who i would not even try to train to be around chickens. You have to match up your abilities and tolerance level with your dog's strengths and weaknesses. I feed my dogs raw chickens, from my flock (on occasion), but they don't eat them unless i offer them. It's definitely not about whether they've tasted blood.

    My best rooster in the world is a RIR. He's wonderful in every way. His brothers were demons, and we ate them.

    I'm sure everyone has different ideas about this sort of thing, but i disagree witih 2bradleys about whether or not it's ok to rehome your dog - should you so choose. Everyone at my house works. The dogs' job is to get along with chickens and keep predators at bay. The chickens' job is to make eggs and chicks. If someone (rooster, neighbor, dog) can't fit into that pattern, they have to go. And that's that. If you decide that's what's best for your home, i hope you won't feel guilty about sending your dog someplace where he will be able to play freely outside without getting in trouble.

    I hope you're able to come to some good solution for all of you.
  5. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    Well, you have a young, high energy dog and she has found some very fun and entertaining "toys" that are fun to run after and catch. At this point I'd say it will be very hard to train her out of this since she has been sucessful in catching one or more. It's just to much to expect a young dog to have access to chickens and yet ignore them. You might be able to do it with a whole lot of time and effort involved but I still would never, ever trust her alone with the chickens again, even for a minute. Keep them separate for the sake of the chickens.

    I've had dogs in the past who were fine with the chickens but those were dogs who never did show any interest in them. My current dogs are extremely high prey drive and can't be trusted at all. I don't bother trying to train it out of them though I do scold verbally for showing to much interest thru the fence. Regardless, the dogs never have access. The chickens stay in their coop/run. When I let them semi-free range in my pasture the dogs are locked up in my yard. It work's for me, keeps everybody separate and the chickens alive.
  6. ronikins

    ronikins Songster

    Apr 18, 2010
    SW Missouri (Ozarks)
    Thank you, everyone, for your advice. It's a tough situation. I will definitely not be getting rid of her. But I will never trust her or even see her the same. I know she was only doing what is in her genes but it's still hard. If it had been another hen the second time, I wouldn't be nearly as hurt by it. The RIR rooster, Freddie, is doing ok. He won't just come up to me like Rusty did. He is ok with me being nearby but that's about it. Rusty liked to jump up in my lap and sit there for 20 or 30 minutes while I drank my tea. He was a sweet fella. But life does go on.....

    Thanks again.

    Edit: Meant to say, I keep them seperate unless I am there in the immediate vacinity to watch the dog. I don't want to confine the chickens to the run when we have tons of yard for them to run in. I'd rather keep the dog inside unless I'm out there with her. I think things will work out ok with that. I'm pretty sure my husband learned his lesson on letting the dog out on her own for too long....
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2010
  7. MMPoultryFarms

    MMPoultryFarms Songster

    Jun 21, 2010
    Okarche Oklahoma
    I got this guy here at 3 years old when he arrived on my yard chickens were like doggie biscuits to him. He was a breeding aussie shepard. Lived his whole life in a pen and probably didnt even know what a Bird was. He made a mistake once and it cost me a few chickens. But I just Kept being persistant with him. Now I dare anyone other then my family to even attempt to reach for a chicken. He wont bite you But I promise he will warn you that these are his and you better back off. Please view this post to see pics of prettyboy.
  8. SunnysideupstateNY

    SunnysideupstateNY Songster

    May 15, 2010
    We trained our boxer with a field dog collar. We use the beeper as a warning then a shock if she keeps chasing or ignores us. You can test the shock yourself. Its not bad at all. It's more like a tickle at level one. Level 2 is a little but stronger but gets uncomfortable. Level three would only ever be for if shes running towards the road and theres a car coming. Just something to stop her in her tracks. I will never go higher than that. The beeper and level one has been sufficient with training her around the chickens. She's been doing great with them. Now when they run near her she just lays down.
  9. mxitman

    mxitman In the Brooder

    I'm glad I found this post, I'm going through similar issues with my dog who is 6 months, she's Lab & Shepard mix and likes to follow the chickens around with her tail wagging. She has lunged a few times but only let her around them with her harness & leash on. I'm hoping I can train her but I think it might be to instinctual for her. She chases any little critter..even spiders... I was thinking of the shocking collar as a friend suggested... just not sure.
  10. pgpoultry

    pgpoultry Songster

    Oct 16, 2009
    I'm very lucky with our Border Collie, he will not attack chickens for whatever reason. A broody hen is currently brooding on his bed....and he has not tried to boot or bite her off.
    I have always shown him that the chickens are 'mine' and he cannot interfere with them. I feed him treats whilst feeding the chickens and praise good behaviour whilst stopping any chasing (he tends to do this when the chickens mate as he reads this as aggression).
    He has been left for long periods on his own with the chickens and chicks and, obviously has a broody hen next to him every night....I have given him another bed next to her!
    It is possible to get the two to co-exist, but may take a lot of work, and probably won't work with all dogs.

    Good Luck anyway,


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