When to introduce to pets

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by RebelChief, Nov 19, 2019.

  1. RebelChief

    RebelChief Songster

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    Good morning,

    For those who have pets (in my case three small dogs) what age is it best to allow an introduction between dogs and birds. I have two senior chihuahua's that are 9 and 2.5 lbs and a very rambunctious Yorkie that is 8 months old and a big, clumsy moose. We have a relatively big front yard that is fenced and I would like to bring the chickens in to eat bugs since there are way too many of them around here...but I want to make sure I don't have any dog/chicken issues.

    Thank you

    Rebecca
     
  2. NatJ

    NatJ Songster

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    Age of chickens? Any age, just be careful. Age of the dog? Whatever age they currently are.

    One idea would be to let the chickens in the yard while the dogs are in the house or on the other side of a fence: chickens can eat bugs, dogs can watch and get used to them, no-one gets chased or scared (or licked, sat on, grabbed, bitten, pecked--not sure whether the dog or the chicken is more likely to get hurt!)

    Another idea is to have one person hold a dog, while another holds a chicken, so the dog can sniff and the chicken can look but neither can run/chase/bite/peck.

    Yet another idea is to make each dog practice the command "stay" near the chicken pen--this helps them learn self control around the chickens, while the chickens get used to seeing the dogs, and again no-one gets hurt.

    I remember doing things like this a decade or so ago, with a black lab and some chickens. We got day-old chicks, so at first I held the chick while my husband held the dog. Eventually (months later) the dog could lay down and "stay" while the chickens ranged in the yard and I kept an eye on them all. I put the dog in the chicken pen a few times, and she was more interested in eating the chickens' food than in the birds themselves.

    Of course your dogs (and chickens) will be a bit different than the ones I had back then, so you'll have to try things and see what works. Hopefully some others will chime in with their advice, too.
     
  3. RebelChief

    RebelChief Songster

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    Thank you. I'm most worried about the puppy. He's a spazz and I don't think I will ever be able to let him around the babies...once they are bigger maybe. I like the idea of bringing them in the yard with the dogs inside. We have a lot of windows on the front of the house so they will be able to see them with no issues.


    lly
     
  4. NHMountainMan

    NHMountainMan Crowing

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    I let my guys see the chicks when they were 1 day old, in the brooder. You need to watch the dogs' reaction. Letting them get used to them as they grow, always watching the dogs' behavior. Are they excited, are they barking etc. I've never ad small dogs, but I think prey drive is an instinct you can watch for. As the chicks grow, always supervise until you are sure you can trust. I think you'll know pretty quickly if your dogs' prey drive is too strong, and you'll never be able to trust them. Good luck -- when are the chicks arriving?
     
  5. RebelChief

    RebelChief Songster

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    The chicks are due in tomorrow. :). I really don't think my chihuahua's will be a problem. The Yorkie is just very very rambunctious and I am worried he would hurt one so he will never be alone.
     
    NHMountainMan likes this.
  6. NatJ

    NatJ Songster

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    Puppies do grow older, and they can be trained (although supervision is always a great idea!)

    My lab was full of energy, but she did learn to stay, and it really helped in lots of cases--if I sat there and made her stay while something exciting happened, she could see/smell without getting crazy, and it helped her be calmer later. For example, after 5-10 minutes of staying while company arrived, she was ready to walk instead of run while greeting them. (The novelty had worn off, so she handle the situation calmly.) I usually had her practice staying while I did dishes, so she wouldn't forget what the command meant.

    For a food-motivated lab, "off" was also a great command. It meant "don't eat that," and was handy if someone dropped food on the floor. It was also useful for toenail trims: my dog had to work so hard to not-eat a piece of food, she didn't much care what happened to her feet during that time. So she'd stare at a treat and drool while I trimmed. We had her practice briefly at each meal time, so she stayed in practice with it too.

    I was not good at remembering to work on dog training, but daily practice really does help--so I finally made sure the most useful few command were worked into daily activities, and gave up on the rest.
     
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  7. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Free Ranging

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    It's less about the chicks and more about how well trained the dogs are, and how much (if any) prey drive they have. Some dogs will never be fully trustworthy with chickens. Rather than risk the "what ifs" (especially since I have a combined 200 lbs of dog) I just don't let them interact - if chickens come out, dogs have to be in the house - if dogs come out, chickens must be in the run.

    I'm currently working on basic training with my 3rd dog, a female Anatolian. She likes to run towards the fence to make them fly. So we've been working on the "leave it" command the last couple of weeks, starting off by rewarding her for turning away from staring at the chickens when told to "leave it", and now she's being rewarded for walking away from them at "leave it."

    My male dog on the other hand is terrible with "leave it" but he's always been pretty good with other animals. He likes to visit the chickens (still with the run fence between them) but never gives them a hard time, so the chickens will follow him around as long as he's close to the fence.
     
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  8. Rockporters

    Rockporters Songster

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    The cat was easy. The dog took a bit of work.

    I held the chicks for the dog to sniff while she was under complete control. Usually when she was in a down position within grabbing distance, or on the couch. Inevitably as they grew, the chicks would fly from their brooder pool when the dog was around. We’d go for the dog first, not the bird, just in case. She tried to chase a few times, we’d tell her to leave it. If necessary, we’d put her in a down stay. As the chicks got bigger we’d sit with the dog and let the chicks roam around her. Eventually the chicks got bigger than the dog lol. We brought her into their run and watched her carefully the first few times. If she acted interested, we tell her to leave it. If that fails, it is a down stay. Every once in a while she might chase along the outside of the fence if they’re being crazy in the run, but never when she’s in the run. They don’t peck her, she’s quit licking them lol.

    7D31951A-D75D-4D4D-A080-5C6EA1A22B5C.jpeg F293457B-C7D2-4430-9614-B8C3C4001576.jpeg
     
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  9. RebelChief

    RebelChief Songster

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    The look on your dogs face is priceless. My older two are well behaved and well trained so they will be fine. I've been letting my Yorkie go in and peer at them in their booder and have let him sniff them and he's been very calm about them so far. I have lots of bird feeders so he's around birds a lot and never chases them so maybe he thinks it's just another one of mommies birds. I will def work on them and how they deal with them but will NEVER leave them alone.


     
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