Training/Teaching a dog about chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lcahill, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. Zombified

    Zombified Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2013
    Kentucky, USA
    My best advice is to simply manage, and just keep the dog away from chickens.

    That being said, I did do some training with my dog, teaching him that ignoring my ducks was more rewarding for him than staring at them or chasing them. I used a clicker, and just clicked the clicker and fed him a high-value treat each time he turned his head away from the ducks.

    I started out with him only being able to hear and smell my duck(I only had one when we began training). I gradually began allowing more access(such as only keeping my body between them, and then making it so that there wasn't anything between them). I just worked slowly, and at my dog's pace.

    I'm not on my computer, so I can't show you the videos, but I'm pretty sure I did upload the video in another thread, as well as a photo of one of my ducks going in to nibble on my dog's tail, with him lying down calmly.

    My dog is getting up in the years, and has a couple issues that make him less active. In his prime, he used to drag me across the road in order to get cats. Even just the other day, he caught a mouse, so he is still a capable hunter. I couldn't even tell you the amount of birds he's caught, lol. But, my dog also prefers to be inside, and only goes outside to do his business, eat(he's fed raw meat, so we feed him outside), and if someone else goes outside.

    I remembered that BYC saves images!


    Here's a video as well.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
  2. Fabrick

    Fabrick New Egg

    Sep 17, 2013
    Derbyshire (UK)
    Surprisingly, I have found that a "No, leave it, or the dogs name firmly spoken" all work as long as I'm around. I have three dogs (Border Terrier, Whippet and Greyhound), and five chickens which roam the garden. The Border was allowed to visit the hens every morning from being a puppy, whilst the 3 year old Whippet and 10 year old Greyhound were only allowed to observe through a gate at first until their interest subsided. Once they began to realise that they were all part of the same family, they were allowed to mix, by first being taken amongst the chickens on a lead. The chickens also helped by showing no fear and ignoring the dogs. Gradually after several visits, the leads were taken off and the dogs allowed to roam under a watchful eye. On the odd occasion that the birds get spooked and run or flap, the dogs natural instinct to chase or join in kicks in, but a firm " No, Leave" seems to work. I would agree that unsupervised dogs could equal dead chickens, so am always conscious of the situation, trust the dogs yes, but never forget the dogs natural instinct is to hunt, some breeds more than others.
  3. BoereMeisie

    BoereMeisie Cape Town Farm Girl

    Oct 21, 2012
    Atlantis, South Africa
    This thread has inspired me to start training my 3 Jack Russell terriers to accept my chickens as part of their pack... I really like DoubleCreekFarm's idea of the retractable leash, though my rooster might help a bit... He is a Rhode Island Red who's recently started kicking me. He might attack the dogs while I work with them (one at a time) Will this hurt or help the process (ie. Will he give the dog a good kick and this might discourage the dog OR will he give the dog a good kick and this might ENCOURAGE the dog... Could swing either way I suppose?) Though I'm planning to cull him anyway, as I'm afraid of entering the yard when he's out, and as a consequence they're all jailed up in the coop at the moment...
  4. christine9

    christine9 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2013
    South Carolina
    I also have learned a lot from the dog whisperer...and a $100 obedience course at petsmart. It's really about getting the dog to understand that you are alpha over him and over the chickens. This puts them in the same pack. Of course I say this while one of my dogs ignores my three week old chicks and the other gets "the chase" look in his eyes. I will be working with him soon and everyday until he can learn not to chase or play rough with them.
  5. sonjap

    sonjap Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 16, 2012
    Parker, CO
    I have two border collies. One was never interested in them, the other was so hyper and wanted those chicks bad! I heard about this video that teaches you how to train your dog not to go after chickens and it worked great! There were several steps but they were all pretty easy to follow. I could email him any questions I had along the way and he was always prompt with an answer. I found out about it on an older thread here. Here is the link if you are interested.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Stacyc

    Stacyc Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 27, 2013
    Breed of dog has a part to play as well. My neighbor had two middle age Shelties when she got her chickens and they just instinctively began to run circles around them. They are of the herding breed. I myself have American Eskimo dogs, I will. Be picking up my very first flock today so I too will be dealing with how to train my dogs not to eat them.
    They are well trained dogs and listen to my commands. I would suggest some excellent treats for the dogs and a six foot leash, sit stay command, and the leave it is good, when the dog begins to ignore and break eye contact with birds and look at you do high happy voice and be quick with the treats. If the dog wants to move or shows to much interest, give a quick jerk on leash and use your deep angry man voice or the ever unpleasant "ah" loud and scary. You want to break that moment, as soon as they do, high happy voice and treat. This can all happen in just a few seconds. I don't agree with using shock collars. Your goal is to teach your dog that chickens mean rewards and Mommy is happy. Make it a fun training thing. Make them think that going out to do chicken chores means some good treats and some good time with Mom. You may want to have them well walked so they are slightly tired when you start this. Your dogs come from extremely smart breeds, cattle dogs are excellent farm dogs. Consistency and a good positive attitude are your best tools, and super tasty snacks, don't use your regular treats, go get some that you only use for chicken training. I will use my homemade snacks, one can of salmon, two eggs and two cups of whatever te of flour you want. Mix up to consistency of sticky bread dough, flatten out on cookie sheet about 1/4 inch thick bake for 20 minutes on parchment paper, cut into strips while still warm. They go insane for these. Do not drain the salmon, use the whole thing. Sorry, I digress. Lt us know how it goes. Good luck, dogs I know, chickens, not so much...yet.
    1 person likes this.
  7. Wasserbuffel

    Wasserbuffel Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 26, 2007
    I trained my greyhound to leave my birds alone by using positive reinforcement. It was two years before I fully trusted her, and in the mean time I made sure that the birds and dog were never in the yard at the same time.

    In the first few weeks I rewarded the dog for ignoring the penned birds. Then I moved up to taking her outside on leash and muzzled while the flock was roaming. Each time she lunged, I would tell her to leave it. When she turned away from watching the birds, I rewarded her.

    The next step was to allow her to investigate a chicken up close. I muzzled her, and held a bird where she could sniff it. If she attempted to bite through the muzzle I gave her a verbal (ah ah) correction.

    Once she was calmly meeting the birds face to face, I walked her (still on leash) in the yard among the chickens, rewarding with treats for calm behavior and lack of interest.

    Finally I let her off leash (still muzzled) while the whole flock was loose. I put her in a stay, and called her to me when the flock was between us. She took a path that led her around all the birds rather than through them to get to me.

    Then she decided to do some running:

    It was a long, slow process, but worth it in the end. Last week she goosed two of my hens while out in the yard, because they were there for the sniffing, but didn't react at all when the birds squawked and flapped off.

    A dog that initially has strong prey drive and chase instincts, and in my greyhound's case years of training specifically to chase, can be taught. This result is using only positive training, no shock collars, the only corrections she ever received were verbal.
  8. Anna-MN

    Anna-MN Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 19, 2012
    My black lab, Maizy, is actually an amazing flock guardian dog. Before chickens, she loved to chase up pheasants, grouse, rabbits, geese, you name it she was chasing it and catching it if she could. I knew from the start that I would have to integrate the chickens to her very carefully. When I got my first flock of 4 adult birds I took her out there every day for about 20minutes or so and would hold each one of them down at eye level with her. I would use my sweet calm voice I use with Maizy while I was talking to the birds. Any time she got too rough or excited I would let out a stern "NO!" in a low toned voice. After about a month or so doing that I let the chickens free range and I took her out there on a lead and let her sniff them and get acquainted. Every time she was gentle she got a treat. Every time she got rough she got a stern "NO!" and back in the house we went. Eventually she learned what she could and couldn't do to them. Then in the spring I got a batch of chicks and we did the same process. Everyday, 20minutes, rewards for good behavior, and "NO!" for bad. She learned to be very gentle and loving with them and now treats all the chickens like her babies.

    But then we got ducks.

    We did the same process with her with the ducklings when they came home. I could see more and more of her natural bird dog behavior coming out with these girls as they got older. I started to get really worried and her punishment for being rough with the ducklings was much worse than with the chickens. She got a stern "NO!" and was put in her kennel in the spare bedroom away from the family for a half hour. We would try again after her time out. She slowly started to improve but was just getting more excitable around them. Once they were big enough to go outside with the chickens we tried taking her out on the lead like before and she did great with this technique. I think it helped that her chickens were out their with the ducks so she knew she had to gentle. But anytime, to this day, that we turn our backs or don't pay attention while the birds are free ranging she goes right for the ducks. Harassing them by nipping at their tails (they are irresistible to her for some reason), herding them around the yard, and eventually chasing them into the coop. She hasn't hurt any of them yet and she knows she is in big trouble when I catch her. She just can't keep her natural instincts under control when she is with the ducks because of her hunting background. I understand that she can't help it and I should have known better than to get ducks. I just hope that if we keep persistently training her that these are our friends then she will have an easier time learning. Hope this helps!
  9. chickenlover478

    chickenlover478 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 5, 2013
    I have two dogs,One is a poodle and one is a jack russel mix. I have to tie them up all day and let them go when I put the chickens In there coop.There is pretty much not a way to train dogs to not to eat chickens.Its there instinct.Great pyrenees are great chicken dogs.They are a live stock guardian dog and protect chickens and goats.
  10. Zombified

    Zombified Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2013
    Kentucky, USA
    You have to know your dog, really. My dog, Lobo, would be greatly encouraged by the attack. He likes a bit of fiestiness, lol! Personally, through my dog behavior research(I'm currently learning about dog training, and have been studying for several years), I have found that it's easier to let your dog know what you expect. For example, if you want your dog to ignore the chickens, reward him/her for ignoring the chickens. :) It's up to you how you wish to punish or correct. I simply removed him from the room/run if he was no longer able to ignore my ducks.

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