To the folks who trained their dogs to live with chickens…

Sivory

Chirping
Apr 17, 2021
41
56
51
Hello,
We have a small backyard flock of bantams of various breeds who free range throughout our gardens.

We have also recently introduced a baby rough collie Pup, he is now 10 weeks old and we brought him home at 8 weeks.

He has always been interested in the chooks, more so trying to herd them, or he will run at them and watch them scatter and then walk away very pleased with himself, but up until recently has not hurt one. He knows the ‘leave it’ command and is well aware the chooks are off limits.

Yesterday, we had an incident where he caught one of the girls and caused her quite a bit of damage. She’s bruised and battered and has puppy teeth marks all over her, but she’s alive. I’m confident that she will make it although I’m keeping her inside until she’s ok. It’s quite rainy and cold here at the moment so she’s sat in front of the clothes dryer and is snug.

I am now terrified to leave the dog anywhere in the yard, up until now they’ve all free ranged together. Risky, yes, I did this as I was told if I raise him around them he will learn to leave them be. I know it’s about the individual dog and training, so with that in mind, clearly my method hasn’t been working,

My question is, for those of you who do have dogs that live harmoniously with chickens, how did you train them?
I’ve been told that if I give him a mission/job, ie, protect the chickens; that he will respond better, does anyone have any advice as to how I should go about this?

At the end of the day, if I am not confident he is the kind of dog that can be trained, I’ll just buy a bigger run for the girls, but they love their free ranging life and if possible I’d like to allow them to keep it.

Thank you all for your help
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,760
19,270
876
Holts Summit, Missouri
My English Shepherds which are similar, are not allowed to run with chickens unsupervised until they are pushing 2 years old. They can be expected to cause damage during that time and require frequent corrections. Harming chickens during that time is not a major concern with me, but over time it needs to stop. I keep my pups penned close to chickens and try to keep chickens from flying into dog pens. When chickens are penned for night, I often allow pup to run grounds and return him / her to pen the following morning, usually after allowing some overlap in outdoor time with the chickens. Management is consistent and I also give pup other things to do to keep mind active.
 

Sivory

Chirping
Apr 17, 2021
41
56
51
Your pup isn't well aware of anything at only 10 weeks old, he's just a baby. Collies are generally very smart and don't have a much of a prey drive. Just keep up with the training and keep them separated at times when you cannot supervise.
Eventually they will most likely get along just fine :)
Thank you. This is great advice. I have everything crossed that they will eventually all get along
 

Windrider

Crowing
12 Years
Aug 25, 2009
351
1,466
301
Los Angeles, CA
I agree with the posters above.

I've had rough collies and worked with our local collie rescue, and am heavily involved with dog sports and training. I can't think of a better breed (in general) to have with chickens or small animals. In my experience even collies that have decent herding drive have a very inhibited bite instinct. Granted, my experience is with actual show-type rough collies, if you have a "farm collie" type your milage may vary.

My old collie, Katie, loved to "groom" our pet rabbit, which he didn't appreciate, but if he tried to make a break for the bushes she'd gently herd him back to the lawn. Sometimes he'd give her a solid thump in the face with those powerful back legs, but she never reciprocated. My little brother's hamster got out one day when we weren't home and she just carried it around in her mouth unhurt until we got home. Didn't have chickens then, but I would have trusted her with them.

But you have a puppy. Be patient. Puppies have to be taught; you can't expect them to instinctively know everything and be perfect right away. Mistakes will be made but the puppy will learn from them. (BTW "Leave it" is a great skill to have - just don't expect a young dog to be solid on that skill in every situation until mature).
 

Wolfie2

Songster
5 Years
Feb 23, 2016
199
851
169
South of Houston
I had an Australian Shepherd that I got as an adolescent. Started him off by taking him into the barn when I fed the animals. I would sit him down and talk to him about the animals and how it was his job to protect them. He was not allowed free access to the animals for a while. During this time I would give him some supervised interaction time with the goats and chickens. Not sure he understood the speeches I was giving him but, to mt, it seemed to help. At least helped keep him calm. For a few months he got more and more "unsupervised" time with them until I was finally able to trust him with the animals. He made a fantastic guard dog.

I used to love watching him work with the animals, him being an instinctive herd dog. He would get frustrated with the chickens as they did not take kindly to being herded but he would put the goats where he wanted them to be.
 

Geena

Free Ranging
7 Years
Aug 17, 2014
972
5,945
521
Maryland
Granted, my experience is with actual show-type rough collies, if you have a "farm collie" type your milage may vary.
Same here, most of the rough Collies I've known have been show bred and they were all pretty mellow as adults. Seems like most rough Collies are either bred for show or pets. People who want to really work Collies usually seem to go with the smooths.
 

HumbleAmerican

Songster
Nov 3, 2021
334
1,259
138
Consistency is key.

My 17 wk old English springer leaves them alone. Last springer I had wouldn’t even growl when the chickens stole her fresh beef bone.

My pups are taught that any interest causes me to be unhappy. They get the point and ignore them totally.

My current springer is unsupervised with them as of last Sunday.
 

Windrider

Crowing
12 Years
Aug 25, 2009
351
1,466
301
Los Angeles, CA
People who want to really work Collies usually seem to go with the smooths.
Actually, smoothies and roughs can be and often are from the same litter. My rough, Katie, had a smooth dad. I think the roughs are often perceived as more mellow because all that coat makes them hotter and they often don't exert themselves as much. Most of the (show-type) smoothies I know are just as gentle as the roughs.

Anyway, to the original poster: your collie pup didn't kill that chicken, when it so easily could have. That is likely the bite-inhibited nature of a collie, though the pup didn't know better than to "play" with the chicken.
 

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