Trouble with our own dog


In the Brooder
10 Years
Apr 13, 2009
Sadly, we lost our beloved one-year-old chicken Peach to our own pet dog on Monday and I'm sick about it because essentially it was my fault. We just moved and didn't realize we had a hole in the side of our run when we set it back up, and our 9-month old German shepherd got her. So, we redid the run with extra thick wire stapled to the frame. An hour ago, my husband looked out and there were the remaining 3 hens, who had been locked in, huddling by our back door. The dog had ripped the side off the new run with her teeth. Two questions: one, has anyone ever heard of a dog being able to be trained to protect, not play with or kill, chickens? We are about to start a 6-week training program but have been told by that training facility that dogs will always chase and kill chickens. Second: anyone have suggestions for building a run that the dog can't rip off? Thanks for your help.
I know how you feel.. 2 of my dogs killed all of my ducks and a roo too.... it was a nightmare.
They didnt do it to be vicious..they were just "playing"...
I have 4 dogs. 3 of them have attacked my flock and it resulted in a few chickens dying. I have put sooooo much time and effort into training them to stay away from my flock. Regardless, I will NEVER leave the dogs alone with the chickens. They are never in the same area at the same time.

I love my dogs, but its my job to keep my chickens safe. That means never letting my gaurd down...EVER. They are dogs and that play drive is primal.

Good luck. Sorry for your loss.
yes you can still teach the dog. have patience, be consistant, don't allow for any opportinities until you are certain. most of the time they will learn. the dog wants to please you. teach him what you want from him.
Electric fence! Two strands one at 4" and the other at 12" to 16". Then its time to "introduce them" Dog.. hot wires...and hot It usually takes only one introduction.
Great learning Tool!! I have lost 3 out of 4 chickens my dog has gotten, it was a game to him, not intending to kill them. Soo even if my chickens are in their run, the dog is in his kennel. At night I lock the chickens away and then let the dog out for the night. This way everyone has their free time but it's not together! I do have have electric fencing up, but it is the only way I'd feel "safe" letting the chickens be in their run with the dog out.
Farmerwnb's got it. Run a couple of strands of electric around the pen and you should be in pretty good shape. As far as training goes, it is possible, to a point. With a lot of work and time you should be able to get her to the point that she won't try to tear down the chicken run, and you may get her to the point that she ignores them completely while you're around. I wouldn't ever trust her with them on her own though no matter how much training you put into her. I'm sorry for your loss.
This is true but it is also necessary to give the dog a job and exercise to make the training easier and the dog happier. If you keep the dog in the pen most of the time without something for him to do he will repeat the offense as the prey drive is strong. I believe electric fencing may help as well but don't skimp on the training because someday that fence may fail...

Edited to add:

Really sorry about your hen
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Another comment would be that certain breeds are more prey driven than others. Breeds that have a high prey drive (most but not all terriers ect) are much harder to train- and in general should not be trusted alone with small prey type creatures, as they were bred to catch and kill small things. Breeds that are retriever types (labs, goldens, ect) are in general more trainable to not hurt chickens- they more or less want to catch and play/retrieve small things, and can differentiate between a chicken and a stick/squeaky toy/ball ect. Livestock protection dogs (anatolians, pyrenees ect) are more likely to protect the flock than chase the flock, but some still need to be taught- as they were more bred to protect hoofstock than featherstock. Herding dogs IMHO can go either way- they are very smart and are highly trainable, but can have a high chase drive. People and place protecting dogs (GSD, rott, dobies) can also go either way- some have high prey drives and some don't. Each dog must be evaluated on some points. High/medium/low prey drive? Smart/medium/low intelligence- how trainable is the dog? I have taken care of some dogs which had such high prey drive, they seemed completely impervious to my attempts to train (a min pin, a fox terrier, and a jack russell). One current dog (dobie) is a people pleaser, smart and has a low prey drive. He is completely trustable with adult chickens/cats/other dog, but stares at chicks like they are dog cookies. He is not left alone with chicks. The other dog has a medium prey drive, is not very smart, and tends to the submissive side. He is trustable with adult chickens due to training.

So for current dogs- evaluate them on a case by case basis- and desensitize, train, and protect the chickens when they are alone. For future dogs, stack things in your and your chickens favor by picking breeds or mixes that are less likely to have a high prey drive, and have the brain power to learn rules and boundaries.

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