training a dog to leave chickens alone

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Amastacia, May 9, 2013.

  1. Amastacia

    Amastacia Songster

    May 9, 2013
    SW Michigan
    I have 8 hens and a 11 month old Australian Shepherd puppy. this morning she got out and injured one of my hens. before this, whenever she got out with them she would chase them (i think she was trying to herd them but didn't know what she was doing) but didn't touch them, just stared at them if they stopped or didn't run. does anyone have advice on how to train her not to catch them? i do want to get her trained for herding, but i haven't yet found any one that can teach her in this area.

    additionally, probably this weekend my husband will be building a run for the chickens so we can let both them and the dog out at the same time without issues, but i do like letting the hens have the whole yard too.
  2. Habibs Hens

    Habibs Hens Cream Legbar Keeper

    Mar 31, 2012
    London, UK
    My Coop
    sorry to have to say this but a dog is a dog and there will always be that fear of the Dog attacking and killing them

    although he is a puppy so could be trained

    treat him when he is nice around the chicken and scold him when he plays rough with them
  3. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    The way to train a dog, especially a pup, is by repeated, daily exposure while under your direct control. Pups, or adult dogs new to chickens, should never be allowed access to the birds when not on a leash. You have an advantage in that your dog is young. Ideally training would have been taking place from the day the pup came home. I raise dependable ranch dogs by simply taking them along with me every day when I do barn chores in addition to teaching the usual obedience commands of come, sit, stay etc.. Pup is attached to my by it's leash and goes right along with me into pens and coops etc. That way I can immediately stop and discourage inappropriate behavior. This is accomplished by a sharp tug on the leash and a firm NO. This goes on every day. Eventually all this becomes old news to the pup, chickens become a boring, every day thing. When I see the dogs interest in birds waning it eventually gets to trot along with me off it's leash. But only when I know it has a rock solid recall, even in the face of great temptation.

    This all may sound like a lot of work, and guess what? It is! And it can go on for a long time, just depends on the dog and it's temperment. Dogs are pups until they are a year and a half or two years old, even longer for really large breeds. Training has to consistently going on every single day. But the effort put into raising a pup this way pays off many times over in the years to come in the form of a truely good ranch dog who does NOT slaughter your flock the moment you turn your back.

    There is a caveat to all this: Not every single dog can be trained to be trustworthy around chickens. Some just do not have the right temperment no matter how much you train them. If you never reach that spot in training, even months down the line, where you see the dog start loosing the intense interest in the birds, if he just continues to fixate on them intensely and completely tunes you out in those moments, that dog is probably not ever going to be trustworthy.
    5 people like this.
  4. Amastacia

    Amastacia Songster

    May 9, 2013
    SW Michigan
    i am looking into getting my puppy into herding classes, hoping i might be able to transfer that training to apply to chickens too. and i am working on reinforcing the "leave the chickens alone" idea. hopefully it will work.
  5. chickiegal

    chickiegal Chirping

    Apr 10, 2013
    Austin, TX
    My 2 dogs are absolutely NOT to be trusted w my 6 hens. They have killed my 2 favorite hens and were even up for adoption with no response. Because there are so many dogs needing to be adopted my hopes are low. Therefore I must try to reprogram them so we can all live in harmony. I keep the dog door down during the day and my girls have their own separate yard but accidents happen. I am in the process of researching training/bark collars w remotes. Any suggestions would be helpful. I realize that some dogs just can't be re-trained in this area but I have to try. You are lucky in that your dog is a pup still. Mine are 5 and 8. Time will tell.
  6. sn0wwhite

    sn0wwhite Songster

    May 11, 2013
    I've got a 6 year old Chihuahua. Does anyone have any experience with this breed and chickens? He has been gentle and protective of the hamsters we have and I'm planning to introduce him to the hens slowly and strongly supervised. Eventually the hens will be as big if not bigger than he is. Will they hurt him?
  7. Sparrow

    Sparrow Songster

    Apr 11, 2008
    Dogs may be our pets but look at this for what it is.

    Dogs are PREDATORS. Chickens are PREY. Chasing behavior, herding behavior, it is all born from the instinct to hunt/kill, but we try to teach them to stop short of the killing. With some excellent dogs, it is effective enough to allow them to be around chickens. The VAST majority of dogs, however, should never be allowed to jeopardize your birds' safety. Ever. It sounds like a nice, peaceful scenario, but it almost inevitably ends up in a bloodbath. Just read through the forums a little, you will see it, unfortunately. :/
  8. Quailsong

    Quailsong Songster

    Apr 20, 2013
    Bolded for emphasis. Well said, Sparrow. People are lucky if they got a good dog, but don't count on it. Even with special classes a dog's instinct is to kill or 'play with' small critters. Chickens are bite-sized for some large breeds.

    I've considered getting a LGD if I ever get goats/sheep, but not for just chickens or quail (settled on the latter). That's like tying a steak to its neck and telling it NOT to salivate.
    Last edited: May 11, 2013
  9. Dylon

    Dylon Songster

    Jan 5, 2013
    Brewton, AL
    From my experience, once they get a taste for blood, its hard to stop them. If you can, get a mean rooster to attack the dog. Mine learned early on to be scared of the rooster
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I have had many chicken friendly dogs during my life. Most killed at least a bird or two before training put a stop to it. None of the dogs were what you would consider exceptional with respect to poultry or other livestock and most were used for hunting raccoons, rabbits, squirrels or even foxes. Those dogs were invaluable for enabling chickens to be free-ranged. My assertions are based on experience, not simply reading a bunch morbid post or simply a couple of bad experiences with an untrained dog. There are many parties here that know their way around dogs and poultry; concentrate your queries with them to get sound advice on how to get dogs into a poultry friendly mode.
    6 people like this.

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