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BC attacked Chicken out of the blue - Can we ever trust her?


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Our 13 month old BC spay "Seska" decided today to taste chicken. One of the hens was attacked right on the front lawn. We looked out to see the bird on the deck with the dog about 3 feet away. The good news is that the bird appears okay, and is just missing a bunch of feathers (found in the yard). The bad news is that the dog managed to pull off some skin with the feathers and apparently carried the hen up the steps to the deck. We've had the BC since last August and she's shown any interest in attacking the birds.


The rest of the story....


We have a flock of free-ranging guinea hens to eat bugs on our property (3.5 acres). Last August, we adopted a shy 9 month old female BC who had been raised with lots of kids and critters. Our best hope with this adoption was that Seska would learn to herd the birds and keep them on our property. But we decided that we'd be perfectly satisfied if she just wouldn't attack the birds.


We kept Seska on a leash or confined for the first couple of weeks. Then we started putting her out on a chain at ground level with the birds, but away from their pen. The 40+ guineas and 3 chickens would come over to inspect this new critter and the BC would roll on her back and act submissive. She NEVER, EVER! jumped or acted aggressive to them.


By the third week, Seska was turned loose with the birds. When we needed to herd birds to the coop at night, we'd put her on a lead and tried to teach her to herd. She was slowly getting the hang of things.


Most of the winter, it's been too cold and snowy for the birds, so they've been in the coop. We have wild grouse that come to our place when it snows to eat olives off the Russian Olive trees. Seska would chase them whenever she was out. Once we turned our guineas and chickens loose, we kept careful watch of the dog for a couple of days, but Seska seemed to understand that they belonged and left them alone.


We have housecats and Seska has always been very good and non-aggressive towards them.


We know BCs need a lot of exercise and activity and she's been getting that. But the birds provide a vital bug-eating function and she's got to be able to get along with them. I suspect that Seska won't be happy to be confined when the birds are loose (for the long-term).


We've been doing lots of obedience and trick training and Seska's learning quickly.


I grew up with BC mixes on the farm and we never had a chicken problem with them.


Bottom-line....what can we do to train Seska and be fairly certain that she really is trained and not going to eat the birds?


Any ideas (short of eliminating the birds!) will be gratefully appreciated.

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You shouldn't need to eliminate the birds. By the way, I appreciate that your first instinct was down THAT road - I've had several dogs in rescue for "chasing poultry."


However, you may have to accept the idea of keeping Seska and the birds apart. Whether that means Seska spends more time confined when you cannot watch her, or whether that means making a safe place for the birds, it's the fact that stock and Border Collies are best kept pretty much seperate.


I got into ducks this spring. I adore them and I love how they kept the yard weeded and free of bugs. However, after multiple tragedies that involved different dogs of mine I thought were "safe", we've now divided the yard and this summer will run the dogs on one side and the ducks on the other, and rotate them regularly to offer fresh forage to the ducks. They don't need rotating now that it's winter and I love not having to worry about Duck Massacres or having to walk the dogs on leashes in my one acre fenced yard.

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My old BC Mickey killed many of the neighbors chickens. I was still a kid at home and my dad beat the hell out of her, but it didn't do any good.


She was 4y/o when I got my own place and brought her with me. We devoloped a close relationship where she learned to respect me and obey me. One of her few weaknesses was chickens throughout her life though. I had chickens and as long as I could keep my eye on her, she was ok, even if they were right next to her, but I could never fully trust her around them.

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Thanks for the comments so far. Once our initial shock wore off, we realized that Seska didn't complete the attack...she just brought her toy up on the deck.


So we'll be keeping birds and dog apart unless they're closely supervised....and looking for more ideas.

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Most people who use border collies to work stock, chickens included, keep the dog confined in their kennels or the house until it is time to work them. I suggest you build a nice kennel for Seska away from the birds ( as much as possible-considering they are free range)or less desirable choice, put the guineas in a chicken tractor or bottomless moveable pen and move it around the areas as needed.

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I think it depends upon the dog. We had several ducks killed by pups without a "repeat performance." My dogs are confined when we're not around but, to be quite honest, when we are around we don't keep track of their every moves and there are opportunities when they could harrass the other animals on our farm. They were trained that ducks are off limits - same with the horses, chickens, cats, etc. - and they obey. I don't know scads of people, but we live in a rural community and this seems to be pretty normal amoung our circle of friends/acquaintances.


Funny thing is we allow them to kill groundhogs and rodents, and they do . . . So I guess what I'm saying is that some dogs can be taught not to kill certain animals.



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